Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 48, Issue 3, pp 867–880 | Cite as

Approach and Avoidance Biases Toward Sexual Stimuli and Their Association with the Dual Control Model of Sexual Response in Heterosexual Men

  • Daniel TurnerEmail author
  • Charlotte E. Wittekind
  • Peer Briken
  • Peter Fromberger
  • Steffen Moritz
  • Martin Rettenberger
Original Paper


Many models of human behavior work in an interaction of a dual system. While one system usually represents controlled and reflective behavioral responses, the other system reflects automatic and impulsive actions. In the impulsive system, positive stimuli initiate approach reactions and negative cues avoidance reactions. Besides stimulus valence, the behavioral response triggered by the impulsive system is influenced by personality (e.g., the propensity to react with approach or avoidance biases in a specific situation). The present study applied a computerized Approach–Avoidance Task (AAT; Rinck & Becker, 2007) to assess automatic behavioral approach and avoidance biases toward sexual and neutral stimuli in heterosexual men (N = 40). Individual AAT-performance was furthermore related to sexual excitation (SES) and the two sexual inhibition factors (SIS1 and SIS2) as proposed by the Dual Control Model of sexual response (Bancroft & Janssen, 2000). Against our hypotheses, participants did not show a stronger approach bias toward sexually preferred (i.e., images of women) than sexually not preferred stimuli (i.e., images of men or children). However, stronger approach biases toward images of women were positively associated with sexual excitation and negatively correlated with sexual inhibition due to a threat of performance failure (SIS1) even after controlling for potential confounds (i.e., general behavioral activation and inhibition). The results support the importance of the influence of dispositional traits measured with the Dual Control Model of sexual response on approach and avoidance biases toward sexually preferred stimuli in heterosexual men.


Sexual behavior Sexual excitation Sexual inhibition Approach–Avoidance Task Dual Control Model 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyUniversity Medical Center MainzMainzGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Sex Research and Forensic PsychiatryUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany
  3. 3.Division of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Department of PsychologyLMUMunichGermany
  4. 4.Clinical Neuropsychology Unit, Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany
  5. 5.Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Forensic PsychiatryHuman Medical Center Georg-August University GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  6. 6.Centre for Criminology (Kriminologische Zentralstelle – KrimZ)WiesbadenGermany
  7. 7.Department of PsychologyJohannes Gutenberg-University MainzMainzGermany

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