Covariation of sexual desire and sexual arousal: The effects of anger and anxiety


To test Kaplan's model of hypoactive sexual desire, this investigation examined the effects of anger and anxiety presented during sexual stimuli. Subjects included 24 male undergraduates, free from psychological and medical problems that interfere with sexual function. Each subject was presented with three audiotapes, containing sexual content and statements by the participants that were designed to evoke anger or anxiety or that were situationally appropriate (control condition). Penile tumescence and sexual desire were monitored continuously. Results indicated significant differences in sexual desire in each of the three conditions, with desire highest during the control condition, followed by the anxiety condition, and last, the anger condition. Tumescence was decreased during the anger condition, relative to the control and anxiety conditions, which were not significantly different from one another. These findings partially support Kaplan's model of maintaining factors in hypoactive sexual desire, by demonstrating that anger may be the primary mechanism through which sexual desire and arousal are inhibited. In this study, anxiety impaired desire but did not affect tumescence. Implications for the study of emotional influences on sexual responding are discussed, including the need for investigation of other parameters of sexual motivation. © 1991 Plenum Publishing Corporation.

Publication Title

Archives of Sexual Behavior