Date of Conferral







Brian Zamboni, PhD


Atypical sexual behavior is often viewed from a perspective of pathology and non-clinical samples are not typically used in research. The current exploratory research is a qualitative study that examined the etiological perspectives of Adult Baby/ Diaper Lover (ABDL) behavior from members of an online ABDL community. Archival survey data from an online sample (N = 1,795) of ABDL participants were used. The theories informing this research included attachment theory and the sexual health model. Research questions included an examination of: (a) what we can be learn from the way an ABDL individual perceives the origin of ABDL behavior, (b) differences in the way participants find their ABDL interests, and (c) the origin beliefs of participants from a community sample compare to the results from historical data. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the archival survey data, and grounded theory was used to forward a theory about the etiology of ABDL. Participants suggested that ABDL may not be the result of a mental health condition or a trauma history. The majority of participants believe their ABDL behaviors are connected to childhood experiences, which partially dovetails with current theories on the etiology of paraphilias. Although some participants believe ABDL behaviors are related to toilet training, most do not. Most participants endorse a wide range of explanations for their ABDL interests and behaviors. The environmental shaping theory of ABDL is based on data from this study and both supports and conflicts with historical research on paraphilia. This study contributes to positive social change by allowing clinicians and scholars the opportunity to hear the voices of a stigmatized group and understand them better. An increased awareness of sexual diversity can allow for greater acceptance and less stigmatization in the mental health and medical fields.