Exploring the Relationship between Sexual Compulsivity and Attentional Bias to Sex-Related Words in a Cohort of Sexually Active Individuals

AUTHOR(S)

Albery, Ian P.; Lowry, Jessica; Frings, Dan; Johnson, Henry Lee; Hogan, Cassandra; and Moss, Antony C.

PUBLISHED

2017 in European Addiction Research, Vol. 23(1), pp. 1-6

KEY FINDINGS
  • Among those with higher levels of sexual compulsivity, greater attentional bias was linked with lower levels of sexual experience.
ABSTRACT
BACKGROUND/AIMS: If sexual compulsivity and other addictive behaviours share common aetiology, contemporary proposals about the role of attentional processes in understanding addictive behaviours are relevant.

METHODS: To examine attentional biases for sex-related words among sexually active individuals and the relationship between sexual compulsivity and sexual behavioural engagement with attentional bias, 55 sexually active individuals completed a modified Stroop task and the sexual compulsivity scale.... READ FULL ABSTRACT
EXCERPTS
  • "One possible explanation for these results is that as a sexually compulsive individual engages in more compulsive behaviour, an associated arousal template develops [36–38] and that over time, more extreme behaviour is required for the same level of arousal to be realised. It is further argued that as an individual engages in more compulsive behaviour, neuropathways become desensitized to more ‘normalised’ sexual stimuli or images and individuals turn to more ‘extreme’ stimuli to realise the arousal desired. This is in accordance with work showing that ‘healthy’ males become habituated to explicit stimuli over time and that this habituation is characterised by decreased arousal and appetitive responses [39]. This suggests that more compulsive, sexually active participants have become ‘numb’ or more indifferent to the ‘normalised’ sex-related words used in the present study and as such display decreased attentional bias, while those with increased compulsivity and less experience still showed interference because the stimuli reflect more sensitised cognition."
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