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Sex Differences in Attributions to Positive and Negative Sexual Scenarios in Men and Women With and Without Sexual Problems: Reconsidering Stereotypes

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Sex Differences in Attributions to Positive and Negative Sexual Scenarios in Men and Women With and Without Sexual Problems: Reconsidering Stereotypes

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Abstract

People with sexual problems are more likely to attribute negative sexual experiences to themselves, in contrast to sexually functional individuals who attribute negative sexual experiences to external factors such as the circumstance or partner. We investigated attribution patterns in 820 men and 753 women, some of whom reported an orgasmic problem, to assess differences between the sexes and those with and without an orgasmic difficulty. Specifically, using an Internet-based approach, we compared attribution responses to four sexual scenarios, one representing a positive sexual experience and three representing negative sexual experiences. Women were more likely to attribute positive outcomes to their partner than men. Women were also more likely to attribute negative outcomes to themselves than men, but they more readily blamed their partner and circumstances for negative outcomes than men as well. Those with orgasmic problems were less willing to take credit for positive outcomes and more willing to accept blame for negative outcomes. Interaction effects between sex and orgasmic problems further highlighted differences between men's and women's attribution patterns. These results are interpreted in the context of traditional notions that men's attributions tend to be more self-serving and women's attributions more self-derogatory.
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Archives of Sexual Behavior (2019) 48:855–866
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-018-1270-z
ORIGINAL PAPER
Sex Dierences inAttributions toPositive andNegative Sexual
Scenarios inMen andWomen With andWithout Sexual Problems:
Reconsidering Stereotypes
DavidL.Rowland1· ChristopherR.Dabbs1· MiaC.Medina1
Received: 19 January 2018 / Revised: 5 March 2018 / Accepted: 28 June 2018 / Published online: 6 July 2018
© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018
Abstract
People with sexual problems are more likely to attribute negative sexual experiences to themselves, in contrast to sexually
functional individuals who attribute negative sexual experiences to external factors such as the circumstance or partner. We
investigated attribution patterns in 820 men and 753 women, some of whom reported an orgasmic problem, to assess differ-
ences between the sexes and those with and without an orgasmic difficulty. Specifically, using an Internet-based approach, we
compared attribution responses to four sexual scenarios, one representing a positive sexual experience and three representing
negative sexual experiences. Women were more likely to attribute positive outcomes to their partner than men. Women were
also more likely to attribute negative outcomes to themselves than men, but they more readily blamed their partner and cir-
cumstances for negative outcomes than men as well. Those with orgasmic problems were less willing to take credit for positive
outcomes and more willing to accept blame for negative outcomes. Interaction effects between sex and orgasmic problems
further highlighted differences between men’s and women’s attribution patterns. These results are interpreted in the context
of traditional notions that men’s attributions tend to be more self-serving and women’s attributions more self-derogatory.
Keywords Attribution· Sex differences· Orgasm· Female orgasmic disorder· Premature ejaculation· Relationship
satisfaction
Introduction
The way in which individuals attribute cause or explanation
for their feelings, thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors undoubt-
edly affects their perception of control over them (Heider,
1958; Kelley, 1973). Such attribution processes are important
because they affect one’s overall sense of “self-efficacy,” a
construct developed by Bandura (1989) that refers to the per-
ceived ability to be effective at a given task based on previous
experiences. Self-efficacy plays an important role in what
people choose to do or not to do—they select activities and
goals at which they think they can succeed and avoid ones
that might result in failure. Even when not avoiding such
situations altogether, they often set themselves up both cogni-
tively and emotionally for a cycle of self-perpetuating failure.
Attribution Processes
The understanding of attribution processes and locus of con-
trol has significant implications for individuals experiencing
sexual problems—specifically, after experiencing a negative
outcome as occurs with a sexually dysfunctional response,
individuals typically attach meaning to the incident and make
inferences about its cause (Kelley, 1973). According to attri-
bution theory and locus of control, people generally make
self-serving inferences that reduce negative feelings sur-
rounding a bad event, such as blaming another person or the
circumstances (Mezulis, Abramson, Hyde, & Hankin, 2004;
Snyder & Higgins, 1988). Specifically, an important dimen-
sion of attribution and locus of control is that of the internal
versus external continuum, the internal typically referring
to stable factors lying within the self, whereas the external
referring to changing, unstable, and modifiable factors lying
outside oneself, often related to the particular situation.
For most negative situations or outcomes, the locus and
stability of causal attributions tend to favor strategies that
minimize negative emotional impacts (Abramson, Metalsky,
* David L. Rowland
david.rowland@valpo.edu
1 Department ofPsychology, Valparaiso University, 1001
Campus Drive, Valparaiso, IN46383, USA
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
... Previous research has shown that women are more likely to attribute negative outcomes to themselves and positive outcomes to their partner but also more likely to blame their partner and circumstances for negative outcomes than men. 28 This is consistent with the findings of the present study: women were more likely to attribute not engaging in sexual activity to themselves. Perhaps our finding that men were more likely to endorse partner-based reasons is related to this and is functioning as a response to women's attributions. ...
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