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The Effects of Mindfulness on Sexual Outcomes: The Role of Emotion Regulation

Abstract

Individuals higher in dispositional mindfulness, a quality of non-judgmental attention to the present moment, fare better than their less mindful counterparts on a wide range of psychological and interpersonal outcomes. However, remarkably little is known about the potential influence of dispositional mindfulness on sexual outcomes. Here we investigated whether dispositional mindfulness was associated with a range of sexual outcomes, including sexual satisfaction, sexual hyperactivation (heightened sexual desire and worry), sexual deactivation (suppression of sexual desire and behavior), and problematic pornography use. We also tested whether capacity for emotion regulation was the mechanism underlying the mindfulness–sexual outcome association. These hypotheses were tested in two samples: a sample of adults in a committed romantic relationship (N = 407) and a group of adults who were long-term single (N = 400). Across both samples, dispositional mindfulness predicted more adaptive sexual outcomes, and emotion regulation generally mediated these associations. Of particular importance, the positive effects of dispositional mindfulness on sexual outcomes appear to generalize across relationship statuses, with both partnered and long-term single individuals displaying a similar pattern of results. These findings highlight that high dispositional mindfulness may predict a range of positive sexual outcomes in both partnered and single individuals.

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Pepping, C.A., Cronin, T.J., Lyons, A. et al. The Effects of Mindfulness on Sexual Outcomes: The Role of Emotion Regulation. Arch Sex Behav 47, 1601–1612 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-017-1127-x

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Keywords

  • Mindfulness
  • Sex
  • Sexual system functioning
  • Pornography
  • Sexual satisfaction
  • Emotion regulation