, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 498-513
Date: 23 Apr 2008

Indirect Effects of Acute Alcohol Intoxication on Sexual Risk-taking: The Roles of Subjective and Physiological Sexual Arousal

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Three experiments supported the idea that alcohol fosters sexual risk-taking in men and women, in part, through its effects on sexual arousal. In Experiment 1, increasing alcohol dosage (target blood alcohol levels of .00, .04, .08%) heightened men’s and women’s risk-taking intentions. Alcohol’s effect was indirect via increased subjective sexual arousal; also, men exhibited greater risk-taking than women. In Experiment 2, an extended dosage range (target blood alcohol levels of .00, .06, .08, .10%) heightened men’s risk-taking intentions. Alcohol’s effect again was indirect via subjective arousal. Physiological sexual arousal, which was unaffected by alcohol, increased risk-taking via increased subjective arousal. In Experiment 3, alcohol increased women’s risk-taking indirectly via subjective arousal, but alcohol-attenuated physiological arousal had no effect on risk-taking. Implications for alcohol myopia theory and prevention interventions are discussed.