Kink & BDSM

Why Are Some People Sexually Attracted To Animals?

July 25, 2018 by Justin Lehmiller


People who are sexually attracted to animals are often referred to as “zoophiles” in the psychological literature. Zoophilia is something that has long been considered a paraphilia, meaning an uncommon sexual interest. Although zoophilia is something that most people have heard of before, very little research exists on the subject. So what do we know about the psychology behind zoophilia anyway?

The largest study to date of self-identified zoophiles was just published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy and it’s the subject of my latest column over at TONIC. Nearly 1,000 zoophiles were surveyed regarding their beliefs about zoophilia and their sexual practices. So what did they say was so appealing about having an animal partner?

For many it was about the odor and appearance of the genitals, which they find to be novel and different compared to human genitalia. For others, it was about the taboo nature of the activity. Taboos in general are a popular sexual interest because when we’re told we can’t or shouldn’t do something, that ultimately makes some people want to do it. Learn more about this idea in the full article here.

For additional insight into zoophilia, check out the infographic below, which is based on the results of a smaller study of male zoophilies published in 2003 (which was really the definitive source of information on the subject until now). The findings of this smaller study mirror those of the latest research, especially with respect to which types of animals zoophiles said they were attracted to; however, the findings from the smaller study suggest that another part of what draws some people to zoophilia may be that they have difficulties with human relationships.

Curious to learn more about the psychology behind zoophilia and other uncommon sexual interests? There’s a bonus chapter available for my book Tell Me What You Want that takes a deep dive into the subject. It explores not just zoophilia but also why some people are into being furries (i.e., dressing up like animals to have sex), dressing up and/or acting like an infant, and more. It’s a truly fascinating read and it’s available here.

For other infographics about sex, click here.

Want to learn more about Sex and Psychology? Click here for more from the blog or here to listen to the podcast. Follow Sex and Psychology on Facebook, Twitter (@JustinLehmiller), or Reddit to receive updates. You can also follow Dr. Lehmiller on YouTube and Instagram.

Image Source: 123RF/everst

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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