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Self-Appraisals of Arousal-Oriented Online Sexual Activities in University and Community Samples

Abstract

Arousal-oriented online sexual activities (OSAs) are any activities on the Internet that involve sexually explicit and/or sexually arousing stimuli. These can be solitary-arousal activities, requiring only one person be involved. They can also be partnered-arousal activities that involve at least two people interacting (Shaughnessy, Byers, & Walsh, 2011). Most researchers have focused on the negative outcomes of arousal-oriented OSAs on users’ sexual life and life in general. Yet, these activities can also have positive outcomes. In two separate studies, we examined men’s and women’s perceptions of the positive and negative outcomes of their solitary- and partnered-arousal OSA experience. Study 1 included heterosexual university students (N = 191); Study 2 consisted of heterosexual and sexual minority individuals from the community (N = 316). Participants completed a background questionnaire and measures of their solitary- and partnered-arousal OSA experience and outcomes of these experiences. Overall, solitary- and partnered-arousal OSA was common among study participants. In both studies, participants reported significantly greater positive than negative outcomes of their solitary- and partnered-arousal OSAs, albeit the overall impact was small. We did not find significant gender differences or differences by sexual orientation in positive or negative outcomes of arousal-oriented OSAs. Our results suggest that, for most people, participating in solitary- and partnered-arousal OSAs has little impact on them.

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Correspondence to E. Sandra Byers.

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Shaughnessy, K., Byers, E.S., Clowater, S.L. et al. Self-Appraisals of Arousal-Oriented Online Sexual Activities in University and Community Samples. Arch Sex Behav 43, 1187–1197 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-013-0115-z

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Keywords

  • Online sexual activity
  • Gender
  • Sexually explicit material
  • Internet sex