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The impact of anxiety on subjective and physiological sexual arousal


The impact of anxiety on subjective and physiological sexual arousal

Sharifzadeh, Bita (2009) The impact of anxiety on subjective and physiological sexual arousal. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Current findings on the impact of anxiety on sexual arousal are controversial and do not provide a clear picture of how anxiety is related to sexual arousal. Some studies report that anxiety inhibits sexual arousal and others report that anxiety actually facilitates sexual arousal. However, there is mounting evidence that suggest that these controversies might be due to the existing methodological limitations such as incomplete use of the concept anxiety. Two studies were conducted to examine the impact of anxiety on sexual arousal in healthy men and women. In both studies, participants completed questionnaires to measure anxiety and/or sexual arousal before and after watching anxiety provoking and/or sexually explicit film clips. In both studies, objective physiological measures were taken as the participants were watching the films using, a heart rate monitor. The first study examined the validity of a 10-minute anxiety/fear-provoking film clip in inducing anxiety and arousal in a non-clinical sample of 15 men and 15 women. In this study, anxiety was assessed as a multidimensional construct and as such subjective and objective anxiety were measured. Participants watched a neutral and an anxiety-provoking film in a counterbalanced order. Results of this study showed that a 10-minute anxiety film is long enough to adequately induce anxiety in a sample of non-clinical undergraduate students. A main effect of gender was found, with women exhibiting greater anxiety then men; as well, women demonstrated greater anxiety than physiological arousal during the anxiety film. This study was an important step in validating the fear/anxiety-provoking film clip and its success in inducing anxiety and physiological arousal, permitting future studies using the film clip to examine the effect of anxiety on a variety of human experiences and functioning such as decision making and sexual functioning. The second study examined the impact of various components of anxiety on sexual arousal in healthy women ( n =44) and men ( n =47). In this study, participants watched either a neutral film followed by an erotic film clip or the anxiety provoking film followed by an erotic film clip. The results of this study showed that physiological and cognitive components of state anxiety have an enhancing effect on objective and subjective sexual arousal in both men and women, regardless of individual's sensitivity to anxiety. Furthermore, anxiety seems to favorably impact objective sexual arousal via increases in sympathetic nervous system, while it did not interfere with the subjective sexual arousal. In addition, sexual arousal seems to positively influence anxiety and successfully diminish it, at least for a short period. Implications of our understanding of the impact of anxiety on sexual arousal are discussed in relation to the importance of considering the different dimensions of anxiety.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Sharifzadeh, Bita
Pagination:viii, 117 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Thesis Supervisor(s):Pfaus, J
Identification Number:LE 3 C66P79P 2009 S33
ID Code:976567
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:22 Jan 2013 16:28
Last Modified:13 Jul 2020 20:10
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