ArticlePDF Available

Exploring the frequency, diversity, and content of university students' positive and negative sexual cognitions

Authors:

Abstract

Despite the fact that some individuals appraise their sexual cognitions negatively and/or experience negative affect in association with their sexual fantasies, sexuality researchers have not differentiated between positively and negatively experienced sexual cognitions. As part of a larger study, we investigated the frequency, diversity, and content of positive and negative sexual cognitions. Two-hundred and ninety-two (148 women and 144 men) heterosexual undergraduate students completed a sexual cognition checklist requiring them to report the frequency with which they experienced each of 56 sexual cognitions as positive and as negative. Results revealed that overall, respondents reported more frequent and more diverse positive sexual cognitions than negative sexual cognitions. However, men reported both more frequent and more diverse positive and negative sexual cognitions than did women. Although there was a significant relationship between the contents of positive and negative sexual cognitions, the most commonly reported positive sexual cognitions differed from the most commonly reported negative sexual cognitions. Men and women also differed in the frequencies with which they reported specific positive and negative sexual cognitions. These results are discussed within the context of the utility of differentiating between positive and negative sexual cognitions.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Exploring the frequency, diversity, and content of university students' posit...
Cheryl A Renaud; E Sandra Byers
The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality; Spring 1999; 8, 1; ProQuest Nursing Journals
pg. 17
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
... Specifically, in the HISF scale, each of its items refers to the abstract term "sexual fantasies" (e.g., "I think sexual fantasies are healthy" ["Considero saludables las fantasías sexuales"]). These sexual thoughts can be experienced with a positive or negative affect [39,91]. The experience that a person has had with respect to an attitudinal object, such as sexual fantasies in this case, determines the attitudinal affective component linked to that object [92]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Despite the growing interest in the study of sexual attitudes across sexual orientation, few studies have tested whether the instruments used to measure them are invariant. This study examined measurement invariance (configural, weak, strong, and strict) across sexual orientation in three different sexual attitude scales: the Sexual Opinion Survey (SOS) to assess erotophilia, the Hurlbert Index of Sexual Fantasy (HISF) to assess attitudes toward sexual fantasies, and the Negative Attitudes Toward Masturbation Inventory (NATMI) to assess negative attitudes toward masturbation. A total of 2293 Spanish adult men and women with different sexual orientations (i.e., heterosexual, bisexual, and gay) participated in the study. The results indicated strict invariance for HISF across sexual orientation and only weak invariance for SOS and NATMI. Differential item functioning was also found in two items of the NATMI scale. Evidence of validity was provided for the three scales that were studied.
... This benefits the client by depathologizing their experience, and can also help the clinician in arriving at a correct diagnosis by noting whether thoughts and impulses fall outside of the normal range of experience. For example, clinicians can directly address the fact that everyone experiences intrusive thoughts at times and it is a normal part of the human experience (Rachman and de Silva, 1978;Radomsky et al., 2013;Renaud and Byers, 1999). A lot of thoughts appear to 'pop' into our head throughout the day and it may be useful to point out the phenomenological nature of thoughts as being more or less out of our control. ...
Article
Full-text available
Although general cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help alleviate distress associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), strategies tailored to targeting specific cognitions, feelings, and behaviours associated with OCD such as exposure and ritual prevention (Ex/RP) and cognitive therapy (CT) have been shown to be a significantly more effective form of treatment. Treatment of individuals with unacceptable/taboo obsessions requires its own specific guidelines due to the stigmatizing and often misunderstood nature of accompanying thoughts and behaviours. In this article, OCD expert practitioners describe best practices surrounding two of the longest standing evidence-based treatment paradigms for OCD, CT and Ex/RP, tailored specifically to unacceptable and taboo obsessions, so that clients may experience the best possible outcomes that are sustained once treatment ends. In addition, CT specifically targets obsessions while Ex/RP addresses compulsions, allowing the two to be highly effective when combined together. A wide range of clinical recommendations on clinical competencies is offered, including essential knowledge, psychoeducation, designing fear hierarchies and exposures, instructing the client through behavioural experiments, and relapse prevention skills. Key learning aims (1) To learn about the theoretical underpinnings of specialized approaches to treating taboo/unacceptable thoughts subtype of OCD with gold-standard CBT treatments, cognitive therapy (CT) and exposure and ritual prevention (Ex/RP). (2) To learn about recognizing and identifying commonly missed covert cognitive symptoms in OCD such as rumination and mental compulsions. (3) To learn how to assess commonly unrecognized behavioural symptoms in OCD such as concealment, reassurance seeking, searching on online forums, etc. (4) To gain a nuanced understanding of the phenomenology of the taboo/unacceptable thoughts OCD subtype and the cycles that maintain symptoms and impairment. (5) To learn about in-session techniques such as thought experiments, worksheets, fear hierarchies, and different types of exposures.
... One reason to believe that it can, however, is that research shows that other aspects of gender/sex sexuality, including sexual identity and sexual status, can branch across these contexts. For example, some straight people with in-person sexuality directed toward other-gender/sex partners fantasize about being with similar gender/sex partners (Joyal et al., 2015;Renaud & Byers, 1999) and/or watch gay/lesbian porn (Downing et al., 2017;Joyal et al., 2015;PornHub, 2014;Schauer, 2005). In addition, some women differ in how strongly linked their degrees of attractions to women and men are across (in-lab) erotic auditory stories and daily (in-person) lives; for some, gendered attractions across these contexts are substantially branched (Diamond et al., 2020). ...
Article
Full-text available
Sexual orientation describes sexual interests, approaches, arousals, and attractions. People experience these interests and attractions in a number of contexts, including in-person sexuality, fantasy, and porn use, among others. The extent to which sexual orientation is divergent (branched) and/or overlapping (coincident) across these, however, is unclear. In the present study, a gender/sex and sexually diverse sample (N = 30; 15 gender/sex/ual minorities and 15 majorities) manipulated digital circles representing porn use, in-person sexuality, and fantasy on a tablet during in-person interviews. Participants used circle overlap to represent the degree of shared sexual interests across contexts and circle size to indicate the strength and/or number of sexual interests within contexts. Across multiple dimensions of sexual orientation (gender/sex, partner number, and action/behavior), we found evidence that sexual interests were both branched and coincident. These findings contribute to new understandings about the multifaceted nature of sexual orientations across contexts and provide a novel way to measure, conceptualize, and understand sexual orientation in context.
... In a study of the Belgian general population, Holvoet et al. (2017) found that 47% of their sample (N = 1,027) had taken part in at least one BDSM-related activity and that 22% had had fantasies without putting them into practice. A Canadian study demonstrated that among university students, 72% of men and 59% of women had had fantasies about being tied up (Renaud & Byers, 1999). Men's and women's prevalence rates of BDSM practice/interest differ in almost all studies, depending on the activity (Brown et al., 2019); men tend to prefer a more dominant role and women a submissive role (De Neef et al., 2019). ...
Article
According to previous research, interest in BDSM (Bondage-Discipline, Dominance-Submission and Sadomasochism) activities is high in several European countries and various BDSM practices are not uncommon. There is a limited amount of research on the personalities of BDSM practitioners, but in previous research practitioners have been found to have better overall well-being and to be more educated than the general population. The current study explored the prevalence of BDSM interest and practice in a Finnish sample (n = 8,137, age range 18–60, M = 30.14, SD = 8.08) and investigated the association between BDSM interest and personality measured with the six-factor personality measure HEXACO. A total of 38% of the sample was interested in BDSM sex and non-heterosexual individuals displayed almost twice as much interest and at most 83% more participation in BDSM than heterosexual individuals. Younger participants (18–28 years old) displayed almost three times as much interest than older participants. There were some associations between BDSM interest and personality factors, but the effect sizes of these associations were modest. The study shows that BDSM interest is quite common among the Finnish population.
... A consistent gender difference has been observed in the prevalence of paraphilic interests in samples from different countries, such that men generally report a greater variety and strength of paraphilic interests, higher desire to pursue these interests, and more instances of actual participation in paraphilic behaviors, compared with women (Bártová et al., 2021;Baur et al., 2016;Bouchard et al., 2017;Chan, 2021;Dawson et al., 2016;Joyal & Carpentier, 2017;Seto et al., 2020). Some gender differences have diminished when comparing older and more recent studies (e.g., Renaud & Byers, 1999, vs. Joyal et al., 2015 for fetishistic interest; Arndt et al., 1985, vs. Chivers et al., 2014or Person et al., 1989, vs. Dawson et al., 2016, and some gender differences are absent of even inverted in some studies (e.g., masochism, transvestic fetishism; Baur et al., 2016;Dawson et al., 2016;Joyal & Carpentier, 2017;Person et al., 1989;Seto et al., 2020). ...
Article
Full-text available
There is a general gender difference in paraphilic interests, such that men report more interest (and greater engagement) in a variety of paraphilic behaviors. Using a nonclinical sample, Dawson et al. (Sexual Abuse, 28(1):20–45, 2016, https://doi.org/10.1177/1079063214525645) found that the gender difference in paraphilic interests was eliminated when scores on measures of sex drive were used as mediators. However, their measures of sex drive were about more than just sex drive and included a measure of hypersexuality (i.e., distress, perceived lack of control, and problematic consequences of one’s sexuality). This study had two aims: to replicate Dawson et al.’s mediation results (using the same measures and scoring methods), and to discern the effect of sex drive itself (by replacing their measure of hypersexuality with a measure of sex drive). A nonclinical sample of 517 men and 615 women completed an online questionnaire. As expected, men reported less repulsion than women for most paraphilic themes. The gender difference in paraphilic interests was reduced (but not eliminated) both when reproducing Dawson et al.’s analysis and when examining a mediation model focused on sex drive specifically. The same results were obtained when examining the paraphilic interest with the largest gender difference (i.e., voyeurism). A full mediation effect was obtained in an unplanned supplementary analysis using a factor score (derived from eight measures) putatively assessing sex drive. While the main findings are consistent with Dawson et al.’s conclusions that sex drive is a possible mediator, they also suggest that other factors need to be considered to help explain the gender difference in the prevalence of paraphilic interests.
Article
The main purpose of this chapter is to review the recent literature on male sexual fantasies. Topics that are analysed include sexual fantasies’ definitions and functions; methodological issues related to the disparate measures used across studies; the distinction between fantasies, interests/desires, and experiences; how general and unusual fantasies are developed; prevalence rates and the multidimensional content of fantasies, with highlights on gender, sexual orientation, and personality differences; and, finally, fantasies’ role in sexual offending. Overall, sexual fantasies are pervasive across the general population and, for the most part, they reflect evolutionary perspectives on psychology. As sexual fantasies can be used to increase sexual arousal in people that suffer from dysfunctions and to foster more positive romantic feelings towards a partner, they are important in clinical treatment and marital therapy settings. Moreover, they constitute a central component in the treatment of people convicted of sexual offenses that are at a high risk of recidivism. Therefore, it is essential to understand fantasies’ role in human sexuality and behaviour.
Article
Understanding sexual fantasies is central to understanding human sexuality. The current review synthesizes recent trends and findings in sexual fantasy research and points to several important conclusions. First, few sexual fantasies appear to be statistically unusual or rare. Second, while the bulk of sexual fantasy research to date has focused on young, cisgender, heterosexual adults in North America, studies that have accounted for diversity (e.g., LGBTQ+ inclusion, cross-cultural work) reveal multiple similarities in sexual fantasy content, but also several notable differences. Third, what people fantasize about is not necessarily synonymous with what they are interested in or do in-person. Limitations and directions for future research on sexual fantasy are discussed.
Article
Recent research has shown that a tendency to harm others goes hand in hand with a tendency to harm oneself. The present two studies further supported the notion that the joy of harming others and oneself has a common core by showing positive relationships between dark personality traits (particularly psychopathy) and sexual masochistic preferences and between general masochistic tendencies and sexual sadistic preferences. Despite the overlap between dark personality traits and general masochistic tendencies, they independently predicted the engagement in sexual sadomasochism. These relationships statistically held when controlling for the impact of basic personality (Study 1). Study 2 found that self-enhancement, openness to change, and low conservation values serve as motivators for a person's attraction to sexual sadomasochism and shed some light on the differences between sexual sadomasochism and the Dark Tetrad. Overall, people who score relatively high on dark personalities and masochism are particularly predisposed to engage in sexual sadomasochism, in both the dominant and the submissive roles.
Article
Full-text available
Bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism (BDSM) proclivity among college students is poorly characterized, in part because existing measures of BDSM proclivity highlight the consensual nature of BDSM and are appropriate for use with non-community members (e.g., those who may not understand BDSM jargon). The current study introduces such a measure, the BDSM Proclivity Scale, which characterizes BDSM proclivity among college students and evaluates relations of BDSM proclivity with other sexual attitudes and behaviors. College students (n = 552) completed measures of BDSM proclivity, sociosexual attitudes and behaviors, rape-supportive attitudes, lifetime sexual partners, and consent-seeking behavior. Two factors mapping onto attitudes and experiences related to BDSM were identified and cross-validated. Average endorsements of BDSM attitudes and experiences on a 7-point Likert scale (1 = strong disagreement, 7 = strong agreement) were 5.61 and 4.44, respectively. Structural models revealed that lifetime sexual contact and gender significantly positively correlated with BDSM attitudes and experiences, sociosexual attitudes positively correlated with BDSM attitudes, and rape-supportive attitudes positively correlated with BDSM experiences. Consent-seeking was unrelated to BDSM experiences or attitudes. College student BDSM proclivity was evident for both attitudes and experiences, highlighting the need to characterize the development of BDSM proclivity and its correlates, the sources of students’ knowledge, and the nature of students’ experiences. The observed associations between BDSM proclivity and relevant sexual attitudes and behaviors support its construct validity and suggest that BDSM proclivity may prove to be an important addition to the broader constructs assessed in sexual attitudinal and behavioral domains.
Article
Full-text available
Objectives The purpose of the present linguistic validation is to provide a culturally and semantically appropriate Italian version of the Sex Fantasy Questionnaire (SFQ), as well as some preliminary results about its construct validity and internal consistency. Material and methods A linguistic validation based on a standardized procedure was performed. Then, a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was conducted to assess the fit of the proposed model and the internal consistency of each factor was provided. Overall, 498 cisgender heterosexual participants took part in the preliminary psychometric testing of the SFQ: 322 men (M age = 32.67; S.D. = 8.93) and 166 women. (M age = 26.85; S.D. age = 8.87). Results Results from the CFA on the updated version of the SFQ revealed an acceptable but not ideal goodness of fit. Conclusion The Italian version of the SFQ should be used carefully. Indeed, given the short time needed for its administration, is its utilization could be helpful to develop and assess new and more valid questionnaires.
Article
Full-text available
Sexual daydreams were measured using the Imaginal Processes Inventory, while retrospective data on number of coital partners, frequency of intercourse in early marriage, and quantity of sexual activity experienced between 20 and 40 years of age were obtained by interview. The 277 men studied ranged from 24 to 91 years. The frequency and intensity of sexual daydreams declined with increasing age, and after age 65 virtually disappeared. The occurrence of sexual daydreams varied directly with each of the three behavioral indicators of sexual vigor for all age groups through age 64. The results are seen as supportive of the "current concerns" explanation of daydreaming production.
Article
Men sexually aroused by the portrayal of force in stories or pictures also self-report a high likelihood to rape if they could get away with it and have hostile and aggressive feelings toward women. The present study assessed males' and females' written sexual fantasies and the fantasies' relationship to past sexually coercive experiences and coercive attitudes. One hundred students answered questions about their fantasies and sex life, and their fantasies were scored for explicitness, theme, emotionality, and forcefulness. Significant main effects were found for coercive experience and force versus no force in the sexual fantasies. Those with coercive experience had more sexually explicit and less emotional fantasies and males had more actual sexual experience and more themes of much younger or older partners. More force in the fantasies was associated with greater explicitness, less happy feeling, and, for males, greater feelings of excitement after the fantasy and less satisfaction with their sex life.
Article
Since little is known about the erotic fantasies during coitus of younger women and men, data were collected from a sample of college students to determine the frequency and type of fantasy in this population. Fantasizing during sexual intercourse was reported by the majority of the respondents of both sexes. Males reported fantasizing early in their coital experience and reported more fantasies involving an imaginary lover than did the females. Women reported more fantasies of being forced into sexual relationships and themes involving a member of the same sex than did men. Both sexes reported the primary purpose of the fantasies was to enhance sexual arousal. The results are interpreted as indicating that fantasizing during coitus is a normal component of sexual behavior.
Article
This study examines the sexual fantasy experiences and cognitive‐affective evaluations in a sample of conservative Christians. The study also operationalizes and documents fantasy guilt as an entity distinct from the more broadly defined category of sex guilt. Respondents reported normative fantasy categories and frequencies of fantasy occurrences. Concomitantly, fantasy episodes were experienced along with substantial to high levels of guilt over fantasizing. Findings show a complex interrelationship between a subject's cognitions, emotions, and fantasy guilt. These point to the import this sample gives to learned cognitions in furthering guilt, over and above the content or frequency of the fantasy experience itself.
Article
Social scientists have proposed that traditional gender role socialization contributes to sexual coercion. Data from 398 students at an eastern state university were used to examine (1) the incidence of women enacting nontraditional gender roles in dating and sexual interactions, (2) the relationship between women's enactment of nontraditional roles and their experiences with physical and nonphysical sexual coercion and (3) the incidence of men reporting nonphysical coercive strategies used by women to engage in sexual intercourse. Results showed that a majority of women had asked a man out for a date and shared or paid the entire expenses for a date and over one third had initialed a first sexual involvement with a man. No support was found for the view that women's enactment of nontraditional roles puts them at lower risk of sexual coercion. Women who reported more sex partners experienced significantly more incidents of both physical and nonphysical coercion than women with fewer sex partners. Subslantial proportions of men also reported that women tried to have sex with them by nonphysical coercive strategies. Findings are discussed in terms of implications for high school and college sex education courses.
Article
95 male college students who had never taken a psychology course were first either angered or not angered by a confederate of the experimenter and were then ostensibly given an opportunity to aggress against the confederate by means of electric shock. Prior to aggressing, Ss were shown 1 of 4 sets of stimuli chosen to effect a factorial variation in the intensity of positive sexual arousal (high, low) and negative affect (high, low) elicited by exposure to such material. In addition, 1 group of angered Ss (no-exposure control) was included who did not view any of the 4 sets of stimuli prior to being given an opportunity to aggress. Results indicate that exposure to affectively positive erotic stimuli significantly reduced retaliatory behavior by angered males to a level below that exhibited by Ss exposed to neutral stimuli and by those in the no-exposure control group. In contrast, relative to baseline controls, Ss' exposure to erotic stimuli that were reported to be disgusting and unpleasant slightly enhanced subsequent aggressive behavior. Several possible mechanisms (e.g., attentional shifts, incompatible responses, cognitive labeling) are discussed in relation to the results. (24 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Explored whether women with sexual fantasies involving force are interested in a more diverse range of sexual stimuli than women without force fantasies. In Exp 1, 16 of 94 female undergraduates had 1 fantasy with forced sexual activity. Ss with force fantasies had more themes of group sex and sex with strangers; rated themselves as more frightened, guilty, and disgusted after the fantasy; rated the fantasy as one they could not act on; and read sex-oriented magazines and watched sex-oriented movies more than the no-force group. Exp 2, with 87 female undergraduates, replicated most findings of Exp 1 and found that Ss with force fantasies were also significantly more erotophilic and sexually experienced. The hypothesis that females with force fantasies would be interested in a range of sexual stimuli and sexual activities was strongly supported. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
A questionnaire about thoughts and ideas during sexual activity was returned by 51 females and 50 males in a random sample of college undergraduates. A high response rate (91%) and the similar sexual experience of male and female respondents make possible a strong conclusion about the college population sampled: Males are thinking more about past experiences and current behavior, while females are thinking more of imaginary experiences. This difference occurs for thoughts during masturbation as well as for thoughts during heterosexual activity. It appears that females prefer a different kind of sexual fantasy than males, rather than being generally less interested in sexual fantasy as claimed by Kinsey, Pomeroy, Martin, and Gebhart (Sexual behavior in the human female, Philadelphia: Saunders, 1953).
Article
We have been interested in devising some methodology short of psychoanalytic therapy to study the relationship of conscious fantasy to personality trends and behavior. Presented here is a pilot study, utilizing the questionnaire technique, the sample consisting of 193 students enrolled at one prestigious urban university, that reports on the prevalence and content of conscious sexual fantasies in a normal (nonpatient) population and their relationship to sexual behaviors. Factor analysis suggested four experience and four fantasy clusters. Those individuals who score high on one experience factor are apt to score high on all other experience factors as well. The same is true of the fantasy factors. Our findings indicate that low sexual activity and low levels of sexual fantasy go together, whereas more sexual experience is connected to a greater range of sexual fantasy. Consequently, erotic fantasies cannot be viewed as compensation for lack of sexual outlet. Instead, there is a positive correlation between the two domains of sexual fantasies and sexual behaviors. Our overall results lead us to conclude that by and large, people are sexual generalists not specialists.
Article
Sixty-six men provided ratings of the extent to which they regarded fantasies depicting nominated sexual activities as sexually arousing. A Male Sexual Fantasy Questionnaire (MSFQ) with five subscales was constructed following factor analysis of these ratings. The subscales yield separate scores for fantasies representing sensual, genital, public sex, sexual dominance-submission, and sexual aggression themes. Levels of penile tumescence recorded while men engaged in fantasies depicting content represented in the MSFQ correlated with the extent to which these men earlier had rated these same fantasies as sexually arousing. Since ratings on the MSFQ did not correlate substantially or consistently with scores on the Betts Questionnaire Upon Mental Imagery, the Imaginal Processes Inventory, and the Gordon Test of Visual Imagery Control, sexual fantasy may be mediated by processes different from those involved in non-sexual imagery and daydreaming. The need to validate use of the MSFQ in several clinical contexts is noted.