Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 397–409 | Cite as

The Sexual Excitation/Sexual Inhibition Inventory for Women: Psychometric Properties

  • Cynthia A. GrahamEmail author
  • Stephanie A. Sanders
  • Robin R. Milhausen
Original Paper


This article reports on the development of a new questionnaire designed to assess the propensity for sexual excitation and sexual inhibition in women: The Sexual Excitation/Sexual Inhibition Inventory for Women (SESII-W). The theoretical model underlying this research, the Dual Control Model, postulates that sexual response depends on a balance between excitatory and inhibitory mechanisms and that individuals vary in their propensity for excitation and inhibition. This study describes the development and initial validation of the SESII-W in a sample of 655 women (M age, 33.9 years). Factor analysis identified eight factors and two higher-order factors: one related to sexual excitation and one to sexual inhibition. The measure demonstrated good test-retest reliability and discriminant and convergent validity. Our data underscore that a number of factors affect women's sexual arousal and these appear to be related to opposing processes of sexual excitation and sexual inhibition. Theoretical issues, possible gender differences, and the value of using qualitative data to inform questionnaire development are discussed.


Sexual arousal Women Inhibition Test validation 



This study was funded, in part, by a grant from the Lilly Centre for Women's Health. We would like to thank Kimberly McBride for help with questionnaire item development and recruitment, Alison Larkin for research assistance, Scott Long for statistical advice, and John Bancroft and Erick Janssen for helpful discussions and comments on a draft of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cynthia A. Graham
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Stephanie A. Sanders
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Robin R. Milhausen
    • 5
  1. 1.Oxford Doctoral Course in Clinical PsychologyIsis Education Centre, Warneford Hospital, HeadingtonOxfordEngland
  2. 2.The Kinsey Institute for Research in SexGender, and Reproduction, Indiana UniversityBloomingtonIndiana
  3. 3.Rural Center for AIDS/STD PreventionIndiana UniversityBloomingtonIndiana
  4. 4.Department of Gender StudiesIndiana UniversityBloomingtonIndiana
  5. 5.Emory Center for AIDS ResearchEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA

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