Psychological Factors leading to Sextortion: The Role of Personality, Emotional Factors and Sexual Needs in Victimisation

Calli Tzani, Maria Ioannou, Rachel Fletcher, Thomas Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sextortion often begins with a perpetrator contacting a victim through social media platforms, dating websites, or messaging applications. Victims share their explicit content, allowing the perpetrator to gain control by threatening to expose this material unless demands are met. The limited extant literature on this topic highlights a vast demographic of victims and serious consequences following victimisation. Given its interactional nature, the current, exploratory study examines psychological factors leading to sextortion. Specifically, personality traits, emotional factors, and sexual needs are investigated as predictors of victimisation. These psychological factors have been much neglected in the literature, despite having strong associations with sextortion-related online behaviours. Utilising data from 89 victims (73 males, 16 females; Mage = 24.73) and 212 non-victims (42 males, 170 females; Mage = 28.55) collected via an online survey, a series of t-tests and regressions were conducted to examine the objectives. Results showed that conscientiousness and emotionality were negatively predictive, and attachment-related anxiety and need for sex were positively predictive of victimisation. A comprehensive model containing these predictors correctly classified 76.1% of cases, indicating potential to measure psychological vulnerability to financial sextortion. With the majority of respondent victims being adult men experiencing financial demands, the discussion details the implications of this research on this group in particular, as well as study limitations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 31 May 2024

Cite this