Non-Erotic Thoughts and Sexual Functioning
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- Purdon, C. & Watson, C. Arch Sex Behav (2011) 40: 891. doi:10.1007/s10508-011-9755-z
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This study sought to replicate and extend investigations of current models of sexual dysfunction (Barlow, 2002; Janssen, Everaerd, Spiering, & Janssen, 2000) which implicate factors such as spectatoring, failure to use ameliorative strategies, and information processing biases in the development and persistence of sexual difficulties. A sample of 165 (n = 71 men) undergraduates completed measures of sexual dysfunction and relationship satisfaction, and reported on the content and frequency of non-erotic thoughts during sex with a partner (i.e., spectatoring), the emotional impact of non-erotic thoughts, and the strategies used to manage them. They also reported on their main sexual functioning difficulties and the strategies they used to manage those difficulties. Finally, participants were presented with a series of hypothetical sexual scenarios and were asked to report their immediate interpretation of events in the scenario. The content of non-erotic thoughts was similar to previous work (Purdon & Holdaway, 2006), although gender differences in thought content were less pronounced. As in previous research, greater frequency of, and anxiety evoked by, non-erotic thoughts was associated with poorer sexual functioning, but we found that this was over and above relationship satisfaction. Participants both high and low in sexual functioning reported using a variety of strategies to manage their non-erotic thoughts, thought suppression being the least effective, and also used a variety of strategies to manage sexual difficulties. Poorer sexual functioning was associated with more negative interpretations of ambiguous sexual scenarios, but this was mediated by relationship satisfaction. However, positive interpretations were predicted by sexual functioning. Results were discussed in terms of their theoretical and clinical implications.