An Exploration of Sexual Fantasies among an Irish Sample: Implications for Forensic Populations

(Pages: 71-86)

Ellen Roche and Ciara Staunton*

Discipline of Criminology, School of Sociology, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.


Research on sexual offending acknowledges that deviant sexual fantasies play, at least some part, in the aetiology and maintenance of deviant sexual interests yet little addresses their prevalence in non-offending populations. To understand how deviant sexual fantasies relate to sexual offending, it is important to consider how prevalent these fantasies are in general population samples; and why most of us who entertain these types of fantasies will never put them into practice. Sexual fantasies of non-clinical populations are still understudied and no Irish data are available to date. Using an online methodology, the present study examined the prevalence of sexual fantasies among an Irish sample (N = 150, 83F; 66M) with the Wilson Sex Fantasy Questionnaire (WSFQ; Wilson 2010). Results found that males reported having more fantasies overall than females (67.5% vs 32.5%), the most common being of an Intimate nature (45%). However, over one-quarter (27.3%) of the sample reported that they engaged in at least one sadistic fantasy often-regularly and 5.3% of participants reported incestuous fantasies often-regularly. Women reported slightly more (6.39%) intimate fantasies, as well as marginally more sadomasochistic fantasies (0.49%). The implications of these findings for understanding the relationship between sexual fantasies, sexual interest and sexual crimes are discussed. Due to the lack of data on sexual fantasies among general population samples, the main purpose of the present study was to examine the nature and prevalence of sexual fantasies among an Irish sample and to investigate for the presence of any deviant sexual fantasies.


Sexual fantasies; deviant sexual interest; sex offending, Wilson Sex Fantasy Questionnaire; Irish sample.