Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 321–344

The conditioning of human sexual arousal

  • William O'Donohue
  • Joseph J. Plaud

DOI: 10.1007/BF01541567

Cite this article as:
O'Donohue, W. & Plaud, J.J. Arch Sex Behav (1994) 23: 321. doi:10.1007/BF01541567


Although most theories of human sexual behavior claim that much normal sexual behavior is learned, and theories of the etiology and modification of paraphilic and dysfunctional sexual behavior also claim that abnormal sexual behavior is learned and can be counterconditioned, there is no systematic review examining the relationship between conditioning and human sexual behavior. We review research addressing whether habituation, sensitization, classical conditioning, and operant conditioning processes are involved in human sexual behavior. We conclude that, due to the methodological problems of extant studies, the basis for asserting the existence of relationships between habituation, sensitization, classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and sexual behavior is tenuous.

Key words

conditioninghabituationsensitizationclassical conditioningoperant conditioningsexual arousal

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • William O'Donohue
    • 1
  • Joseph J. Plaud
    • 2
  1. 1.Northern Illinois UniversityDeKalbUSA
  2. 2.University of North DakotaGrand ForksUSA