ABSTRACT

Sociologists have increasingly been using theories and models borrowed from cognitive science and psychology to address questions of personal motivation. One influential model is the sociological dual process model (SDPM), a cognitive model which holds that individuals think and act either unconsciously and automatically, or consciously and deliberately. Through an analysis of conversations between individuals who are sexually attracted to minors, however, I find that these individuals’ sexual desires cannot be reduced to strictly automatic or deliberate means. Due to the taboo nature of this sexual preference in these individuals’ locales, their unconscious sexual desires are frequently called into question and made conscious as a result. Examining how these individuals struggle to make sense of desires that they cannot entirely control, and in doing so alternate in terms of how they understand the origins and qualities of these desires, I argue that these individuals should be seen as possessing reflectively managed desires. I support this argument using competing cognitive models, theories of intuition, and sociological theories of culture.