Current research: Understanding the puzzle of incest

Lesleigh Pullman

The causes of sexual abuse by fathers toward their children are not well understood. Factors related to family dynamics, such as parenting style, could be a useful explanation. More research is needed to understand how family dynamics may play a role in father-child incest.

The purpose of our research is to test explanations of why some men abuse their children. We are trying to find out if fathers who commit sex offences against their own children are different from fathers who do not commit such offences. Finding out more about these possible explanations for incest can help us to better understand the motivation behind these offences and, ultimately, how to reduce them through assessment and treatment.

We have designed an anonymous online study (there is no way to tie a participant’s identity to their responses on the survey) to assess these proposed explanations of incest. As compared to typical research done with correctional populations (i.e., those who already have an arrest, charge, or conviction for a sexual offence), this survey has the advantages of more honest responding (because of anonymity), less selection bias (via reporting, prosecution, and conviction), and a comparison group of non-offending fathers.

Participants in this study must be male, at least 18 years old, proficient in English, and are fathers with at least one daughter (biological daughter, step-daughter, common-law daughter, or adoptive daughter). As a thank you, participants will get a 1 in 25 chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.  Fathers who have committed a sexual offence against their daughter(s) will be compared to fathers who have not committed such offences.

If you would like more information or are interested in participating, please click on the following link: Please share this to help grow our participant pool!

Lesleigh Pullman completed her undergraduate degree (BA Honours, Psychology) from Carleton University where she studied the effect of mood on attitudes toward sexual aggression. She is currently a fifth year student in the combined MA-PhD program in experimental psychology at the University of Ottawa, supervised by Dr. Michael Seto. She is also an “adopted” member of the Sex, Crime and Evolution Research Lab at the University of Ottawa.  Her graduate school career has been funded by the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (MA and PhD levels), as well as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Fellowship. She is currently the Research Coordinator for a large scale study investigating incestuous sexual offending, funded by a SSHRC Insight Grant (Investigators: Dr. Michael Seto and Dr. Kelly Babchishin)

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