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The Dual Control Model: Understanding the Variability in Women’s Sexuality

The Dual Control Model: Understanding the Variability in Women’s Sexuality

The Dual Control Model (DCM), developed by researchers at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction (Bancroft & Janssen, 2000), proposes that sexual response involves an interaction between Sexual Excitatory (SE) and Sexual Inhibitory (SI) processes. A key tenet of the model is that individuals vary in their propensity for both SE and SI and that such variation helps us to understand much of the variability in human sexual behavior. Initial research assessing the DCM, mainly focused on men or on gender differences in SE and SI. 

Research on SE and SI proneness in women, and how these tendencies relate to sexual problems and high-risk sexual behavior, has increased in recent years. Studies have now been carried out on samples of both heterosexual and lesbian/bisexual women. The validated measure to assess SE and SI, the Sexual Excitation/Sexual Inhibition Inventory for Women, (Graham, Sanders, & Milhausen, 2006) has been translated into a number of languages and has shown good construct validity, internal consistency, and test-retest reliability. Overall, research findings provide support for the DCM: scores on SE and SI significantly predict levels of sexual function, sexual problems, and sexual risk-taking. Clinical and research implications of these findings will be discussed and future avenues for research, and further development of the model, will be highlighted.

References:  
Bancroft, J., Janssen, E., The Dual Control Model of male sexual response: A theoretical approach to centrally mediated erectile dysfunction. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 2000; 24: 571–579.
Graham, C.A., Sanders, S.A., Milhausen, R.R., The Sexual Excitation and Sexual Inhibition Inventory for Women: Psychometric properties. Archives of Sexual Behavior 2006; 35: 397–410.

Areas of Interest / Categories: Sexual Behaviour, Women