Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 32, Issue 6, pp 555–572 | Cite as

Sexual Risk-Taking in Gay Men: The Relevance of Sexual Arousability, Mood, and Sensation Seeking

  • John BancroftEmail author
  • Erick Janssen
  • David Strong
  • Lori Carnes
  • Zoran Vukadinovic
  • J. Scott Long


This paper examined the relationship of three aspects of personality to sexual risk-taking in gay men: (1) sexual arousability, as propensity for sexual excitation, and propensity for inhibition of sexual arousal in the face of threat (measured by the Sexual Excitation, SES, and Sexual Inhibition, SIS1, SIS2, scales); (2) the relation between negative mood and sexuality; and (3) sensation seeking. Risk-taking was assessed for the past 6 months in relation to unprotected anal intercourse (UAI), oral sex, number of casual partners, and patterns of cruising behavior. A combination of number of partners and use of condoms was used to derive a “longer-term risk” grouping. Two patterns of association were identified. UAI and high risk oral sex were more likely in those with low inhibition of sexual response due to “threat of performance consequences" (i.e., low SIS2) and low trait anxiety (low STAI). High numbers of casual partners and frequent cruising were associated with increased sexual interest in states of depression and high propensity for sexual excitation (SES). Higher “long-term risk” was also associated with low SIS2. Unexpectedly, high SIS1, which is strongly related to vulnerability to erectile failure, was also predictive of higher long-term risk. Possible reasons for this are discussed. Disinhibition from the Sensation Seeking Scales was a positive predictor of all types of sexual risk assessed. All three aspects of personality are of potential relevance to designing better interventions to reduce high risk sexual behavior and in evaluating their effectiveness.

high risk sexual behavior homosexual men sexual arousability mood sensation seeking 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Bancroft
    • 1
    Email author
  • Erick Janssen
    • 1
  • David Strong
    • 1
  • Lori Carnes
    • 1
  • Zoran Vukadinovic
    • 1
  • J. Scott Long
    • 2
  1. 1.The Kinsey InstituteIndiana UniversityBloomington
  2. 2.Department of SociologyBloomingtonIndiana University

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