Do Psychological Features Distinguish Those Who Sexually Offend Against Different Age Groups From Those Who Are Stable in Victim Age?


  • Isaac M. Cormier
  • Skye Stephens
  • Sonja Svensson
  • Angela Connors


Aim/Background: Victim age polymorphism occurs when someone offends against victims that span multiple age groups (e.g., child and adult victims). There is a need to better understand the correlates of age polymorphism, as clinicians are often asked about risk of offending against victims who may differ from the index offence victim as part of their risk formulation. The present study examines several potential correlates of age polymorphism: psychopathy, sexual preoccupation, multiple paraphilias, psychosis, and substance use disorders. Materials/Method: Analyses were conducted using secondary clinical assessment data from a provincial forensic sexual behaviour program. The sample included 387 men with two or more contact sexual offence victims. The assessment data in the archival database included comprehensive information about victim age, as well as standardized assessment measures and diagnostic/clinical impressions. Results: There were no significant associations between age polymorphism and psychopathy, multiple paraphilias, sexual preoccupation, psychosis, and substance use disorders. The only significant difference that emerged was that men who offended against victims 16 or older had a higher mean score on a measure of drug misuse than those who offended against victims 6 to 11. Most of the analyses produced small effects. Conclusion: Our findings did not identify significant correlates of age polymorphism when restricting analyses to those men who offended against two or more victims. We consider key methodological differences that may have impacted our findings, as well as the need for rigorously designed research to develop a comprehensive model of age polymorphism.