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Development of a Dualistic Model of Sexual Passion: Investigating Determinants and Consequences


In empirical research, sexual passion has frequently been conceptualized as the interdependent dynamics experienced with a partner and as following a unidimensional continuum of intensity. A recent theoretical model conceptualized sexual passion as an intrapersonal motivation, which can energize both partnered and non-partnered sexual behaviors (Philippe, Vallerand, Bernard-Desrosiers, Guilbault, & Rajotte, 2017). This model also departs from the typical unidimensional continuum by positing the existence of two types of sexual passion: harmonious sexual passion (HSP) and obsessive sexual passion (OSP). The purpose of the present research was to extend the development of such a dualistic model by examining key theoretical determinants and consequences of each type of sexual passion. Study 1 provided empirical evidence of discriminant validity for such a model with respect to key-related constructs in the sex literature (e.g., sexual desire, hypersexuality, self-determined motives). The results of Study 2 showed that both types of sexual passion were associated with a high engagement in various sexual activities, but that only HSP combined it with couple adjustment. Finally, Study 3 indicated that both HSP and OSP were associated with common as well as distinct determinants, while being conducive to different personal and interpersonal consequences. Overall, there were very few moderations by biological sex. The results of these three studies provide empirical support for the sexual passion model and pave the way for new research directions.

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Fig. 1


  1. HSP was correlated .39,* .21,* .24,* and .08 with dyadic sexual desire, solitary sexual desire, self-determined motives for sex, and sexual compulsivity, respectively, whereas OSP was correlated .51,* .52,* −.26,* and .76* with those variables, respectively. *p < .05.

  2. We also examined whether this dichotomous variable assessing low-to-moderate and high level of engagement would moderate HSP and OSP associations with the measured outcomes (sexual desire, sexual behaviors, number of sex partners, and couple adjustment). All results were non-significant, thereby implying that HSP and OSP lead to the same consequences at all levels of sexual engagement.


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Correspondence to Frederick L. Philippe.

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Philippe, F.L., Vallerand, R.J., Beaulieu-Pelletier, G. et al. Development of a Dualistic Model of Sexual Passion: Investigating Determinants and Consequences. Arch Sex Behav 48, 2537–2552 (2019).

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  • Sexual passion
  • Dualistic model
  • Sexual desire
  • Sexuality
  • Relationship