Preference for aggressive and sexual stimuli in children with disruptive behavior disorder and normal controls

Stephanie H.M. Van Goozen, Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis, Walter Matthys, Herman Van Engeland

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Children with disruptive behavior disorders (DBD) have poor social skills and show aggressive interaction patterns. There is evidence from prospective studies of an association between early physical abuse, later social information-processing patterns, and aggressive behavior. A pattern of hypervigilance to hostile cues has been found in DBD children, but very few studies have investigated encoding or perceptual preference for specific classes of stimuli. Some DBD children have a suspected history of sexual abuse and a few have themselves been sexually offensive. Our belief that the sexuality of DBD children should be investigated raised the issue of how to go about doing this. A procedure was developed in which we measured the relative preference for sexual and aggressive stimuli in comparison to other stimulus categories, and the data of DBD children were compared with those of normal controls. It was found that DBD children preferred viewing sexual slides and had a lower preference for nonaggressive slides. Furthermore, boys in general preferred viewing aggressive slides, did so for longer, and chose them earlier, whereas the more aggressive DBD children distinguished themselves in selecting aggressive stimuli earlier. The implications of these findings were discussed and it was concluded that sexuality is clearly an important topic to address in aggressive children in general and not only in the abused ones.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-253
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of sexual behavior
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2002


  • Aggression
  • Oppositional defiant disorder
  • Sexual abuse
  • Sexuality

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