Factor Analysis With Unusual Sexual Interests: A Replication Study in a Representative Population Sample

Sex Abuse. 2023 Sep 20:10790632231200841. doi: 10.1177/10790632231200841. Online ahead of print.


A previous study found a variety of unusual sexual interests to cluster in a five-factor structure, namely submission/masochism, forbidden sexual activities, dominance/sadism, mysophilia, and fetishism (Schippers et al., 2021). The current study was an empirical replication to examine whether these findings generalized to a representative population sample. An online, anonymous sample (N = 256) representative of the Dutch adult male population rated 32 unusual sexual interests on a scale from 1 (very unappealing) to 7 (very appealing). An exploratory factor analysis assessed whether similar factors would emerge as in the original study. A subsequent confirmatory factor analysis served to confirm the factor structure. Four slightly different factors of sexual interest were found: extreme, illegal and mysophilic sexual activities; light BDSM without real pain or suffering; heavy BDSM that may include pain or suffering; and illegal but lower-sentenced and fetishistic sexual activities. The model fit was acceptable. The representative replication sample was more sexually conservative and showed less sexual engagement than the original convenience sample. On a fundamental level, sexual interest in light BDSM activities and extreme, forbidden, and mysophilic activities seem to be relatively separate constructs.

Keywords: confirmatory factor analysis; masochism; replication; sexual interests; sexual outlet; submission.