The Prevalence of Paraphilic Interests and Behaviors in the General Population: A Provincial Survey

J Sex Res. 2017 Feb;54(2):161-171. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2016.1139034. Epub 2016 Mar 3.


Paraphilic sexual interests are defined as unusual or anomalous, but their actual occurrence in nonclinical samples is still unknown. This study looked at desire for and experience of paraphilic behaviors in a sample of adult men and women in the general population. A secondary goal was to compare the results of two survey modes-traditional landline telephone versus online. A total of 1,040 persons classified according to age, gender, education, ethnic background, religious beliefs, area of residency, and corresponding to the norm for the province of Quebec were interviewed. Nearly half of this sample expressed interest in at least one paraphilic category, and approximately one-third had had experience with such a practice at least once. Voyeurism, fetishism, frotteurism, and masochism interested both male and female respondents at levels above what is usually considered to be statistically unusual (15.9%). Interestingly, levels of interest in fetishism and masochism were not significantly different for men and women. Masochism was significantly linked with higher satisfaction with one's own sexual life. As expected, the online mode generated more acknowledgment of paraphilic interest than the telephone mode. These results call into question the current definition of normal (normophilic) versus anomalous (paraphilic) sexual behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Paraphilic Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Quebec / epidemiology
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult