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Testing psychological models of sexual dysfunction in the laboratory: new research findings and clinical implications

Testing psychological models of sexual dysfunction in the laboratory: new research findings and clinical implications

Several studies have investigated the role of psychological processes on the etiology and maintenance of sexual dysfunction. Studies on dispositional factors have supported Barlow’s theory (2002) suggesting as well as infertility treatment are now finding themselves more heavily involved in the decision-making process concerning patients; Neuroticism and low Positive trait-affect are more prevalent in individuals with sexual dysfunction compared to controls (Oliveira & Nobre, in press; Quinta Gomes & Nobre, 2012).

Regarding sexual beliefs, Baker and de Silva (1988) found that men with sexual dysfunction present significantly higher beliefs on Zil-bergeld’s myths compared to controls. Additionally, Nobre and Pinto-Gouveia (2006a) have found that men with sexual dysfunction present stronger beliefs in the “macho” myth, and women presented more age-related and conservative beliefs as compared to controls.

Concerning the role of cognitive schemas, Nobre and Pinto-Gouveia (2009) found that individuals with sexual dysfunction activate more negative cognitive schemas (mostly incompetence) when exposed to unsuccessful sexual events. Regarding attentional processes, studies have shown the negative impact of cognitive distraction on sexual response (Beck et al., 1987; Elliot and O’Donohue,1997).  Additionally, Nobre and Pinto-Gouveia (2008a) found that individuals with sexual dysfunction presented significantly more failure and performance related thoughts, as well as lack of erotic thoughts, compared to controls.

Finally, studies about the role of emotions have suggested that depressive affect is negatively related to sexual arousal (Koukounas & McCabe, 2001; Mitchell et al., 1998; Nobre et al., 2004; Nobre & Pinto-Gouveia, 2006b). Based on these findings Nobre et al (2010a, 2010b, 2013) have developed explaining models for sexual dysfunction in men and women which are being tested using experimental and longitudinal approaches. The author will present preliminary findings of a psychophysiology study on the impact of trait variables (e.g., personality, trait-affect, sexual beliefs) and state variables (thoughts and emotions during exposure to erotica) on sexual response after a false negative feedback manipulation on genital response. Moreover the author will present an overview of ongoing studies aimed at assessing the efficacy of cognitive behaviour therapy for sexual dysfunction.

Areas of Interest / Categories: WAS 2013

WAS 2013

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