The effects of attentional focus and partner arousal on sexual responding in functional and dysfunctional men


The effects of attentional-focus instructions (self vs partner focus) and level of partner arousal (high, low and ambiguous) on sexual responding, both objectively and subjectively measured, were examined with sexually-functional (N = 8) and sexually-dysfunctional (N = 8) men. These instructional sets were delivered just before the subjects viewed an erotic film depicting a heterosexual couple in which they identified with the male. When both groups were focusing on themselves rather than their partner, higher tumescence was observed when their partner was displaying low arousal. When the partner's level of arousal was ambiguous, highest tumescence was achieved during partner attentional focus. When the partner was displaying high sexual arousal, functional subjects reached highest levels of tumescence during partner focus, while dysfunctional subjects reached highest levels of tumescence during self focus. In fact, high partner arousal seemed to inhibit dysfunctional subjects' tumescence under partner focus. Examination of self-report of arousal data as measured by a subjective lever revealed interesting group differences. Results are discussed in light of possible maintaining factors in sexual dysfunction and their treatment implications. © 1983.

Publication Title

Behaviour Research and Therapy