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The Role of Sex Guilt in the Relationship Between Culture and Women’s Sexual Desire

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A large body of literature demonstrates that East Asian women report lower sexual desire than Caucasian women. Although most studies have explained these differences by referring to general culture-linked differences in sexual conservatism, none have examined the potential role of specific constructs such as sex guilt. The goals of the current study were to examine the supposition that sexual conservatism mediates the relationship between culture and sexual desire, and to explore the potential mediating role of sex guilt in the link between culture and sexual desire. Caucasian (n = 105) and East Asian (n = 137) female university students completed questionnaires online. Caucasian women reported significantly higher levels of sexual desire, significantly lower levels of sexual conservatism, and significantly less sex guilt. In the entire sample, sexual conservatism and sex guilt separately mediated the relationship between ethnicity and sexual desire such that women with more sex guilt and those who were more sexually conservative reported lower sexual desire. Among the East Asian women, sex guilt, but not sexual conservatism, mediated the relationship between mainstream acculturation (degree of westernization) and sexual desire such that women with more sex guilt reported lower sexual desire. These findings suggest that sex guilt may be one mechanism by which ethnic groups differ in sexual desire.
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ORIGINAL PAPER
The Role of Sex Guilt in the Relationship Between Culture
and Women’s Sexual Desire
Jane S. T. Woo Lori A. Brotto Boris B. Gorzalka
Received: 11 March 2009 / Revised: 1 February 2010 / Accepted: 6 February 2010
ÓSpringer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010
Abstract A large body of literature demonstrates that East
Asian women report lower sexual desire than Caucasian women.
Although most studies have explained these differences by refer-
ring to general culture-linked differences in sexual conservatism,
none have examined the potential role of specific constructs such
as sex guilt. The goals of the current study were to examine the
supposition that sexual conservatism mediates the relationship
between culture and sexual desire, and to explore the potential
mediating role of sex guilt in the link between culture and sex-
ual desire. Caucasian (n=105) and East Asian (n=137) female
university students completed questionnaires online. Caucasian
women reported significantly higher levels of sexual desire, sig-
nificantly lower levels of sexual conservatism, and significantly
less sex guilt. In the entire sample, sexual conservatism and sex
guilt separately mediated the relationship between ethnicity and
sexual desire such that women with more sex guilt and those
who were more sexually conservative reported lower sexual
desire. Among the East Asian women, sex guilt, but not sexual
conservatism, mediated the relationship between mainstream
acculturation (degree of westernization) and sexual desire such
that women with more sex guilt reported lower sexual desire.
These findings suggest that sex guilt may be one mechanism by
which ethnic groups differ in sexual desire.
Keywords Acculturation Sexual desire Sex guilt
Chinese
Introduction
Ethnic differences in female sexual function are well-docu-
mented in the literature, with East Asian women, defined in this
study as women of Chinese, Japanese or Korean descent, con-
sistently reporting poorer sexual function (e.g., sexual response
or excitement) than women of European descent. In a study of
university students, Brotto, Chik, Ryder, Gorzalka, and Seal
(2005) found that Caucasian women reported significantly
higher sexual desire, arousal, and pleasure with orgasm com-
pared to East Asian women. Population-based studies of women
have yielded similar results. For example, Cain et al. (2003)
examined the sexual functioning of premenopausal midlife
women and found that Caucasian women reported sexual desire
and arousal more often than Chinese and Japanese women, and
pain during intercourse less frequently than Chinese and Japa-
nese women. Similarly, the Global Study of Sexual Attitudes
and Behaviors (GSSAB), which included almost 14,000 women
spanning 29 countries, found that the incidence of lack of sexual
interest, inability to reach orgasm, reaching orgasm too quickly,
pain during sex, finding sex not pleasurable, and lubrication
difficulties was higher in East Asia than in Europe and North
America (Laumann et al., 2005). Although ethnic differences in
sexual functioning have been thoroughly delineated, the spe-
cific mechanisms by which ethnicity influences female sexual
function have rarely been studied and remain poorly under-
stood. The purpose of the current study was to address the pau-
city of research in this domain by examining the possible under-
lying role of sex guilt in cultural differences in sexual desire
among Caucasian and East Asian women living in North
America. In addition, the supposition that sexual conservatism
mediates the relationship between culture and sexual desire was
investigated.
Research has demonstrated that East Asian sexuality differs
significantly from Western norms on dimensions ranging from
J. S. T. Woo B. B. Gorzalka
Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia,
Vancouver, BC, Canada
L. A. Brotto (&)
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of British
Columbia, 2775 Laurel St., 6th Floor, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9,
Canada
e-mail: Lori.Brotto@vch.ca
123
Arch Sex Behav
DOI 10.1007/s10508-010-9609-0
accuracy of sexual knowledge (e.g., Brotto et al., 2005;Chan,
1990; Meston, Trapnell, & Gorzalka, 1998) to sexual experi-
ence (e.g., Durex, 2005) and sexual attitudes (Ahrold & Meston,
2010; Higgins & Sun, 2007; Higgins, Zheng, Liu, & Sun, 2002;
Kennedy & Gorzalka, 2002; Meston & Ahrold, 2010). The
rapidly growing East Asian population in North America and
the clear differences between East Asian and Western approa-
ches to sexuality underscore the importance of improving the
understanding of how ethnicity affects sexual functioning.
To date, studies comparing Caucasian and East Asian sex-
uality have referred to general culture-linked differences in sex-
ual conservatism in efforts to explain disparities in sexual func-
tioning. Sexual conservatism has been conceptualized as self-
imposed constraints on various aspects of sexuality, including
the appropriateness of sexual partners, sexual activities, and con-
ditions under which sexual activity should occur (Burt, 1980).
Indeed, research has consistently found that East Asian individ-
uals are sexually conservative compared to Caucasian individuals
in every domain of sexuality that has been studied. For example,
Caucasian youth report initiating sexual activity at an earlier age
(Baldwin, Whiteley, & Baldwin, 1992; Huang & Uba, 1992;
Upchurch, Levy-Storms, Sucoff, & Aneshensel, 1998), having
more sexual partners (Grunbaum, Lowy, Kann, & Pateman, 2000;
Schuster, Bell, Nakajima, & Kanouse, 1998), and possessing a
wider repertoire of sexual activities (Brotto et al., 2005; Meston,
Trapnell, & Gorzalka, 1996; Tang, Lai, & Chung, 1997)com-
pared to Asian individuals. Despite the frequency with which
sexual conservatism has been cited as the reason for ethnic dif-
ferences in various aspects of sexuality, this proposition has not
been directly empirically tested nor have the mechanisms under-
lying such differences been thoroughly examined.
Differences in sex guilt may be one mechanism by which cul-
tures differ on measures of sexuality. Sex guilt has been defined
as ‘‘a generalized expectancy for self-mediated punishment for
violating or for anticipating violating standards of proper sexual
conduct. Such a disposition might be manifested by resistance to
sexual temptation, by inhibited sexual behavior, or by the disrup-
tion of cognitive processes in sex-related situations’(Mosher &
Cross, 1971, p. 27). Thus, although sex guilt and sexual conser-
vatism may be correlated, the construct of sex guilt encompasses
an affective component that may be absent or, at best, tangential
to the concept of sexual conservatism.
Various studies have found a negative relationship between
sex guilt and sexual functioning, such that higher sex guilt
was associated with diminished sexual functioning (Cado &
Leitenberg, 1990; Darling, Davidson, & Passarello, 1992;
Galbraith, 1969). Nobre and Pinto-Gouveia (2006)compared
emotional reactions to automatic thoughts that occur during
sexual activity between sexually functional and dysfunctional
men and women and found that sex guilt was one of the best
discriminants between women with and without sexual dys-
function, with the former reporting more sex guilt, although
levels of sex guilt did not differentiate between sexually func-
tional and dysfunctional men.
To the best of our knowledge, among the research that has
examined sex guilt, the only study that has compared sex guilt
in individuals of East Asian and European descent was pub-
lished almost 30 years ago. Abramson and Imai-Marquez (1982)
administered the Mosher Forced-Choice Guilt Inventory
(Mosher, 1966) to three generations of Japanese-American men
and women and age-matched Caucasian Americans, and found
that though sex guilt decreased with successive generations
within each ethnic group, Japanese-Americans who belonged
to the youngest generation continued to report greater sex guilt
than their Caucasian counterparts. Abramson and Imai-Marquez
(1982) did not, however, examine sexual function or attitudes.
Thus, research has documented significant ethnic differences
in a number of domains of sexuality in both men and women. To
focus on the literature on ethnic differences in sex guilt and sex-
ual functioning in women, research on sex guilt has found that
East Asian women report more sex guilt than Caucasian women,
and that greater sex guilt is significantly linked to poorer levels
of sexual functioning. Furthermore, it is apparent that East Asian
women experience poorer sexual functioning, in general, com-
pared to Caucasian women. Although ethnic differences in sex-
uality have been documented repeatedly in the recent literature, a
closer exploration of the mechanisms underlying those group dif-
ferences has received only limited attention (except Ahrold &
Meston, 2010, who explored the influence of religiosity). With
studies comparing East Asian and Caucasian female sexuality
invariably finding better sexual functioning in the Caucasian
women and often attributing such differences to cultural varia-
tions in sexual attitudes, examining the role of sex guilt in such
differences may refine the understanding of the mechanisms by
which ethnicity influences sexual function.
In addition to ethnic group differences as a measure of cul-
tural effects on sexuality, recent research has increasingly high-
lighted the importance of attending to acculturation (e.g.,
Ahrold & Meston, 2010; Brotto et al., 2005;Brotto,Woo,&
Ryder, 2007; Meston & Ahrold, 2010; Woo & Brotto, 2008).
Acculturation is the process by which an individual who moves
from one culture to another assimilates aspects of the new cul-
ture’s values, attitudes, and behaviors into their self-identity.
Research supports a bidimensional approach to acculturation
(e.g., Berry, 1980; Ryder, Alden, & Paulhus, 2000)wherebythe
degree to which an individual assimilates parts of the new cul-
ture (mainstream culture) is independent of the extent to which
the individual continues to embrace the values of their culture of
origin (heritage culture). In the context of the current study,
mainstream culture refers to the predominant culture in main-
stream Canadian society (or Western culture) and heritage cul-
ture refers to East Asian culture. Here, we examined both ethnic
group differences and two indices of cultural effects—the role
of mainstream and heritage acculturation in East Asians.
Arch Sex Behav
123
The current study examined sexual desire, as opposed to
other domains of female sexual function, in part because studies
have consistently shown ethnic group differences in sexual
desire but not necessarily orgasm, genital pain, psychophysio-
logical sexual arousal, or other aspects of sexual function (Woo,
Brotto, & Gorzalka, 2009a; Yule, Brotto, & Woo, 2009). In a
large international survey, the prevalence of low desire was
nearly twice as high among women from East Asian versus
European countries, and attitudes about the future success of
the relationship were found to differentially affect sexual desire
among European and East Asian women, whereas this was
not the case for other aspects of sexual response measured
(Laumann et al., 2005).
The goals of the current study were (1) to examine the sup-
position that sexual conservatism mediates the relationship
between culture and sexual desire, and (2) to explore the potential
mediating role of sex guilt in the link between culture and sexual
desire. It has been suggested that negative emotional states may
precede depressed sexual response (Barlow, 1986) and support
has been found for this hypothesis. For example, participants
revealed significantly less objective sexual arousal in a negative
mood induction condition compared to a neutral control condi-
tion (Mitchell, DiBartolo, Brown, & Barlow, 1998) and latency to
maximum subjective sexual arousal was significantly greater in a
depression mood induction condition compared to an elation
condition (Meisler & Carey, 1991). We therefore hypothesized
that sex guilt would mediate the relationship between culture and
sexual desire. Among the East Asian women, we hypothesized
that the relationship between acculturation and sexual desire
would also be mediated by sex guilt. In addition, because sexual
conservatism has been widely cited as the reason for differences
between East Asian and Caucasian individuals across a number
of sexual domains, sexual conservatism was also examined as a
potential mediator of the relationship between culture and sexual
desire.
Method
Participants
East Asian (Chinese, Japanese or Korean) and Caucasian women
who were fluent in English and 18 years of age and older were
eligible to participate in this study. There were no exclusion cri-
teria based on place of birth. A total of 242 women participated.
Of these, 105 self-identified as Caucasian and 137 as East Asian.
The East Asian group was comprised of 83.9% Chinese, 3.6%
Japanese, and 12.4% Korean women. All participants were
recruited through the human subject pool at a large Canadian
university. There were no significant differences in age or in years
of education between the two groups. Demographic data are
shown in Table 1.
Measures
Vancouver Index of Acculturation (VIA)
The VIA (Ryder et al., 2000) is a self-report questionnaire that
measures Heritage and Mainstream acculturation on two sep-
arate dimensions. ‘Heritage culture’ refers to the culture of
birth, while ‘‘mainstream culture’’ refers to the predominant
culture in the new environment. The VIA consists of 20 items,
with two items keyed to each of 10 domains, including social
relationships and cultural traditions. Higher scores on the main-
stream dimension reflect greater Westernization, and higher
scores on the heritage dimension reflect maintenance of the cul-
ture and traditions of one’s origin. Both dimensions were found
to have good internal consistency in the East Asian validation
sample (Cronbach’s a=.92 for heritage acculturation and .85
for mainstream acculturation).
Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI)
The FSFI (Rosen et al., 2000) is a 19-item measure assessing six
domains of sexual function including sexual desire over the
previous 4 weeks. Higher scores on each subscale indicate better
levels of sexual functioning. In this study, we examined only
theDesiredomain.Thetwoquestions that comprise the Desire
subscale are: ‘Over the past 4 weeks, how often did you feel
sexual desire or interest?’ and ‘Over the past 4 weeks, how
Table 1 Demographic characteristics of Caucasian (n=105) and East
Asian (n=137) participants
Variable Caucasian East Asian
Mean age in years (SD) 20.9 (3.61) 20.3 (1.90)
Place of birth (%)***
Canada or US 87.6 30.1
China/Hong Kong/Taiwan 0 51.5
Japan/Korea 0 14.7
Southeast Asia 0 3.7
Europe 10.5 0
Other 1.9 0
Years of residency in Canada (SD)*** 17.1 (7.8) 11.7 (6.4)
Marital status
a
(%)
Unmarried 90.4 95.7
Married 1.9 1.4
Divorced 1.9 0
Mean acculturation score
b
(SD)
Mainstream n/a 65.7 (13.7)
Heritage n/a 70.1 (12.7)
Significant group differences at *** p\.001
a
Figures reported are for the 121 participants who indicated that they
were currently in a relationship
b
Scale range, 20–180
Arch Sex Behav
123
would you rate your level (degree) of sexual desire or interest?’
Scores on the Desire subscale range from 1 to 5. Test–retest
reliability is high (r=.83) and internal consistency is high
(Cronbach’s a=.92). The FSFI has been shown to be a valid
measure for differentiating women with and without hyp-
oactive sexual desire disorder (Wiegel, Meston, & Rosen, 2005)
and may be used for women who are sexually active as well as
those who are not (Meyer-Bahlburg & Dolezal, 2007).
Revised Mosher Guilt Inventory (RMGI)
The RMGI (Mosher, 1988) is a self-report questionnaire that
measures three aspects of guilt: sex guilt, hostility guilt, and
guilty conscience. It consists of 114 items in a limited compar-
ison format. In this format, items were arranged in pairs and
participants were asked to rate their responses on a 7-point
Likert scale that ranged from 0 (‘Not at all true for me’’) to 6
(‘Extremely true for me’’) while comparing the intensity of
trueness within each pair of items. For the purposes of the cur-
rent study, only the 50 items that pertained to sex guilt were
administered in order to reduce the length of the questionnaire.
Examples of items that comprise the Sex Guilt subscale are:
‘When I have sexual desires, I enjoy it like all healthy human
beings’’and‘When I have sexual desires, I fight them because I
must have complete control of my body.’ The total score for
the Sex Guilt subscale was computed by summing the scores
obtained on all items, with some items reverse-scored, and pos-
sible total subscale scores range from 0 to 300. Higher scores
denoted greater sex guilt. Internal consistency for the Sex Guilt
subscale in the current sample was high (Cronbach’s a=.96).
The construct, convergent, and discriminant validity of earlier
versions of the Mosher Guilt Inventory have been established b y
a number of studies (e.g., Abramson & Mosher, 1979;Ruma&
Mosher, 1967).
Derogatis Sexual Functioning Inventory (DSFI)
The DSFI (Derogatis & Melisaratos, 1979) is a self-report mea-
sure of sexual functioning consisting of 10 domains. In this
study, we included only the Attitude subscale to provide a mea-
sure of sexual liberalism-conservatism. This subscale consists
of 30 items, with 15 items assessing sexual liberalism and 15
items assessing sexual conservatism, and participants were
asked to rate their responses on a 5-point Likert scale that ranged
fr o m -2 (‘‘ st r o n g l y d i sa gr e e ’’) t o 2 (‘‘ s t r o n gl y a g r e e ’’) . E x a mp l e s
of items that comprise the Attitude subscale are: ‘‘Premarital
intercourse is beneficial to later marital adjustment’ and ‘‘It is
unnatural for the female to be the initiator in sexual relations.’
The score on this subscale was a difference score (liberalism -
conservatism) that ranged from -60 to 60, with lower scores
reflecting greater sexual conservatism and higher scores indi-
cating greater sexual liberalism. Internal consistency was high
for both the liberalism dimension (Cronbach’s a=.81) and the
conservatism dimension (Cronbach’s a=.86). The DSFI has
been found to have good construct, predictive, and discrimi-
nant validity (e.g., Derogatis & Melisaratos, 1979; Derogatis,
Melisaratos, & Clark, 1976a; Derogatis, Meyer, & Dupkin,
1976b).
Demographics Questionnaire
In addition, a questionnaire assessing demographic variables,
sexual intercourse history and experience with a variety of dif-
ferent types of sexual activity was developed by the authors for
the current study.
Procedure
An advertisement for the current study was posted on the online
experiment management system for the university’s human
subject pool. Students who were interested in participating
clicked on a link from the advertisement that redirected them to
the secure website where the web-based questionnaires were
posted. The first page that was visible to participants consisted of
the consent form which described the purpose of the study as
being to ‘‘examine the relationship between acculturation and
various sexuality-related variables,’ and explained study pro-
cedures. Participants indicated their consent to participate by
clicking the‘‘Continue to Next Page’’ button at the bottom of the
page. Participants who declined to click on the button were not
granted access to the questionnaires. IP addresses, but not cook-
ies, were collected to enable duplicate entries to be filtered out.
Participants received extra course credits for their participation
in this study. All procedures were approved by the university’s
Behavioural Research Ethics Board.
Statistical Analyses
SPSS version 13 was used for all statistical analyses. T-tests
were used in analyses comparing the two ethnic groups on self-
reported sexual conservatism, sex guilt, and sexual desire. In
analyses of the association between ethnicity and sexual vari-
ables, the point-biserial statistic was used whereas for accul-
turation and the sexual variables among the East Asian women
Pearson correlations were conducted.
The bootstrap procedure for mediation analysis recom-
mended by Shrout and Bolger (2002) was used for all mediation
analyses. Although the approach to mediation articulated by
Baron and Kenny (1986) has been influential and widely cited,
Shrout and Bolger (2002) suggest that bootstrap methods are
more appropriate when the process to be mediated is temporally
distal, such as the causal process between ethnicity and sexual
desire. The bootstrap method (Shrout & Bolger, 2002) was used
in the current study because unlike the traditional Baron and
Kenny (1986) approach, the bootstrap method relaxes the
requirement that the statistical test of the association between X
Arch Sex Behav
123
(culture) and Y (sexual desire) be statistically significant before
proceeding with mediation analysis. Shrout and Bolger (2002)
recommendthatmediationanalysisproceedonthebasisofthe
theoretical reasoning rather than the strength of the relationship
between X and Y, especially in studying long-term processes
such as the long-term effects of culture on sexual desire. In
addition, the bootstrap method does not require the distribution
of the indirect effect to meet the assumption of normality. Three
thousand samples, with replacement, were used in each medi-
ation analysis. This was done using an SPSS macro developed
by Preacher and Hayes (2004) which sampled randomly with
replacement from the dataset.
Results
Ethnic Group Comparisons on the Sexuality Measures
The two ethnic groups were comparable on sexual experiences
except for touching with clothing removed, touching of part-
ner’s genitals, and engaging in sexual intercourse (all ps\.05),
with the Caucasian women more likely to have engaged in each
of these activities. There was, however, no significant ethnic
difference in the proportion of women currently in a relation-
ship, with approximately half of the women in each group report-
ing that they were in relationships, v
2
(1) =.02.
In comparing the two ethnic groups on the major sexuality
variables, we adjusted for large family-wise error rate, applying
a Bonferroni correction by dividing the conventional alpha level
of .05 by three (the number of comparisons being made). Thus,
ethnic differences were considered statistically significant only
if p\.017 (.05/3 comparisons). Compared to the East Asian
women, the Caucasian women scored significantly higher on the
Desire subscale of the FSFI, indicating that the Caucasian women
reported significantly greater sexual desire than the East Asian
women in the previous four weeks, t(238) =6.80, p\.001. The
East Asian women scored significantly higher on the RMGI com-
paredwiththeCaucasian women, t(192) =-11.03, p\.001,
demonstrating that the East Asian women reported significantly
higher levels of sex guilt. The East Asian women also scored
significantly lower on the Attitude subscale of the DSFI than the
Caucasian women, t(201) =9.18, p\.001, indicating that the
East Asian women were significantly more sexually conservative
compared to their Caucasian counterparts (Table2).
Ethnicity was significantly correlated with scores on the
RMGI, the FSFI Desire subscale, and the DSFI Attitude sub-
scale (all ps\.001). The correlations are shown in Table3.
The Mediating Role of Sex Guilt in the Relationship
Between Ethnicity and Sexual Desire
The effect of ethnicity on sex guilt was demonstrated, b=57.57,
p\.001, indicating that East Asian ethnicity was associated
with significantly greater sex guilt. The effect of sex guilt on sex-
ual desire, holding ethnicity constant, was also significant, b=
-.01, p\.001, showing that increased sex guilt was linked to
less sexual desire. The indirect effect of ethnicity on sexual
desire, computed by multiplying the effect of ethnicity on sex
guilt with the effect of sex guilt on sexual desire while control-
ling for ethnicity, was also significant, ab =-.59, SE =.12,
CI
99
=-.94, -.28. Hence, sex guilt mediated the ethnic group
difference in sexual desire (Fig. 1).
The Mediating Role of Sexual Conservatism in the
Relationship Between Ethnicity and Sexual Desire
The effect of ethnicity on sexual conservatism was demon-
strated, b=-16.85, p\.001, indicating that East Asian ethnic-
ity was associated with significantly greater sexual conserva-
tism. The effect of sexual conservatism on sexual desire, hold-
ing ethnicity constant, was also significant, b=.02, p\.001,
showing that increasing sexual conservatism was linked to less
sexual desire. The indirect effect of ethnicity on sexual desire
was also significant, ab =-.37, SE =.13, CI
99
=-.72, -.06.
Hence, sexual conservatism mediated the ethnic group differ-
ence in sexual desire (Fig. 2).
Table 2 Ethnic group differences on scores from the Desire subscale of the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI), the Attitude subscale of the
Derogatis Sexual Functioning Inventory (DSFI), and the Revised Mosher Guilt Inventory (RMGI)
Variable Caucasian East Asian t(df)pEffect
size
d
MSDM SD
FSFI desire
a
4.08 1.02 3.14 1.09 6.80 (238) \.001 .89
RMGI
b
64.52 28.15 121.71 45.30 -11.03 (192) \.001 1.48
DSFI attitude
c
26.77 13.75 9.94 12.37 9.18 (201) \.001 1.30
Note: Higher scores denote greater sexual desire (FSFI), higher sex guilt (RMGI) and greater sexual liberalism (DSFI Attitude)
a
Based on n=103 Caucasians and n=137 East-Asians
b
Based on n=89 Caucasians and n=114 East-Asians
c
Based on n=94 Caucasians and n=109 East-Asians
d
Effect size (Cohen’s d) was calculated as d=(M
1
-M
2
)/s, where s=H[(n
1
-1)s
1
2
?(n
2
-1)s
2
2
]/(n
1
?n
2
)
Arch Sex Behav
123
Effects of Acculturation (East Asian Women Only)
on Measures of Sexuality
The correlation between mainstream acculturation and FSFI
Desire was marginally significant, r(134) =.16, p=.069, such
that more westernized East Asian women reported greater sex-
ual desire. Mainstream acculturation was significantly and neg-
atively correlated with RMGI scores, r(113) =-.20, p\.05,
indicating that more westernized East Asian women reported
significantly less sex guilt. Mainstream acculturation was not
correlated with DSFI Attitude (p[.05). Heritage acculturation
was also not correlated with FSFI Desire, DSFI Attitude or
RMGI scores (all ps[.05). Because neither mainstream nor
heritage acculturation were correlated with DSFI Attitude, med-
itational analyses on sexual desire were not conducted for these
independent variables.
Sexual desire and sex guilt were significantly and negatively
correlated, r(114) =-.43, p\.001, indicating that more sex
guilt was associated with lower sexual desire.
The Mediating Role of Sex Guilt in the Relationship
Between Mainstream Acculturation and Sexual Desire
The effect of mainstream acculturation on sex guilt was dem-
onstrated, b=-.70, p\.05, indicating that higher mainstream
acculturation was associated with significantly less sex guilt.
The effect of sex guilt on sexual desire, holding mainstream
acculturation constant, was also significant, b=-.01, p\.001,
showingthatincreasingsexguiltwaslinkedtolesssexual
desire. The indirect effect of mainstream acculturationonsexual
desire via sex guilt was significant, ab =.01, SE =.004, CI
95
=
.001, .02. Hence, sex guilt mediated the relationship between
mainstream acculturation and sexual desire (Fig. 3).
Discussion
Ethnicity and Sexuality
The results of the analyses of ethnic differences in sexual desire
supported our hypothesis that the Caucasian women would report
greater sexual desire—a finding that is congruent with an exten-
sive literature on ethnic differences in sexual response (Brotto
et al., 2005;Cainetal.,2003; Laumann et al., 2005;Wooetal.,
2009a).
Analyses of ethnic group differences in sex guilt supported
our hypothesis that the East Asian women would report greater
sex guilt than the Caucasian women. This result fits with the
results of Abramson and Imai-Marquez (1982), who studied
ethnic differences in sex guilt between Japanese-American and
Caucasian-American individuals. In addition, the results of our
study revealed that the East Asian women were more sexually
Table 3 Correlations among ethnicity and scores from the Desire sub-
scale of the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI), the Attitude subscale
of the Derogatis Sexual Functioning Inventory (DSFI), and the Revised
Mosher Guilt Inventory (RMGI)
Ethnicity
a,b
RMGI DSFI attitude
Ethnicity
RMGI .59***
DSFI attitude -.54*** -.78***
FSFI desire -.40*** -.54*** .44***
a
The Caucasian group was coded as 1 and the East Asian group as 2.
Correlations significant at *** p\.001
b
Correlations involving Ethnicity were point-biserial. All other cor-
relations were Pearson correlations
Ethnicity Sex Guilt Sexual Desire
a= 57.57*** b= -.01***
c= -1.03***
c' = -.44*
Fig. 1 The mediating role of sex guilt in the relationship between
ethnicity and sexual desire in Caucasian and East Asian women. Note:a
represents the effect of ethnicity on sex guilt. brepresents the effect of
sex guilt after controlling for the effect of ethnicity. crepresents the
direct effect of ethnicity on sexual desire; c0represents the effect of
ethnicity on sexual desire after controlling for sex guilt. * p\.05.
*** p\.001
Ethnicity Sexual
Conservatism Sexual Desire
c= -.94***
c' = -.57***
a= -16.85*** b= .02***
Fig. 2 The mediating role of sexual conservatism in the relationship
between ethnicity and sexual desire in Caucasian and East Asian women.
Note:arepresents the effect of ethnicity on sexual conservatism. brep-
resents the effect of sexual conservatism after controlling for the effect of
ethnicity. crepresents the direct effect of ethnicity on sexual desire; c0
represents the effect of ethnicity on sexual desire after controlling for sexual
conservatism. *** p\.001
Mainstream
Acculturation Sex Guilt Sexual Desire
c' = .01
a= -.70* b= -.01***
c= .01
Fig. 3 The mediating role of sex guilt in the relationship between mainstream
acculturation and sexual desire in East Asian women. Note:arepresents the
effect of mainstream acculturation on sex guilt. brepresents the effect of sex
guilt after controlling for the effect of mainstream acculturation. crepre-
sents the direct effect of mainstream acculturation on sexual desire; c0
represents the effect of mainstream acculturation on sexual desire after
controlling for sex guilt. * p\.05. *** p\.001
Arch Sex Behav
123
conservative than their Caucasian counterparts, a finding that is
consistent with both the literature on ethnic differences in sexual
attitudes and our finding that the East Asian women reported
greater sex guilt than the Caucasian women.
Although researchers have long presumed that ethnic dis-
parities in sexual desire reflect ethnic differences in sexual con-
servatism, the results of this study provide empirical evidence
that sexual conservatism mediates the relationship between
ethnic group and sexual desire. This finding was consistent with
a large number of studies that have found that Asian individuals
are more sexually conservative than their Caucasian counter-
parts. For instance, studies have found that individuals of Asian
descent report initiating intercourse at a later age, lower fre-
quency of masturbation, fewer one-night stands, fewer lifetime
partners, and a narrower repertoire of sexual activities (e.g.,
Brotto et al., 2005; Meston & Ahrold, 2010). These findings
suggest that cognitive constructs relating to self-imposed sexual
constraints not only play a role in the level of desire generally,
but, among East Asian women, this construct plays a partic-
ularly detrimental role in limiting women’s desire. Because
research has shown the important impact of sexual cognitions,
which may be the manifestation of sexual conservatism, on
views about sexual behavior and abstinence (Ott & Pfeiffer,
2009), these data suggest that sexual conservatism may play a
role in the understanding of sexual difficulties. Future research
might also explore this construct in other ethnic minority groups
to test whether this is a causal mechanism among women uni-
versally or only among women of East Asian descent.
In support of our hypothesis, mediation analyses also revealed
that sex guilt mediated the relationship between Caucasian or
East Asian ethnicity and sexual desire; that is, the significantly
greater sex guilt experienced by East Asian women accounted for
their diminished sexual desire in comparison with the Caucasian
women. This is a novel finding because the specific mechanisms
that underlie this well-documented association between ethnicity
and sexual desire have not been empirically studied. As described
earlier, Mosher and Cross (1971) conceived of sex guilt as a
negatively-valenced emotion arising from the violation or antic-
ipated violation of‘standards of proper sexual conduct’’ that may
manifest itself by‘‘inhibited sexual behavior, or by the disruption
of cognitive processes in sex-related situations.’
Why does sex guilt mediate the relationship between eth-
nicity and sexual desire? One possibility lies in East Asian cul-
tural conservatism. Of the three major Chinese philosophical
traditions, Confucianism has had the most profound impact on
Chinese culture—its influence eventually also spreading to
Japan and Korea. The Neo-Confucians of the Song Dynasty
(960 to 1276 A.D.) gave the Confucian classics repressive inter-
pretations, thus setting the stage for the current East Asian view
of sexuality as being reserved for marriage and procreation (Ng
&Lau,1990).
The question of how Neo-Confucian views of sexuality were
transmitted to the current sample of East Asian participants,
over 30% of whom were born outside of East Asia, may be
addressed by examining sexual communication in East Asian
families. Parents in traditional Chinese families often experi-
ence great discomfort in talking about sexuality and thus prefer
to avoid the topic with their children (Chang, 1997). Despite the
ostensible absence of discussions about sexuality in Chinese
families, recent research suggests that Asian American parents,
in fact, use other, more indirect ways to convey messages about
their sexual values and expectations of their children’s sexual
conduct (Kim & Ward, 2007). Asian cultures are described as
‘high-context’’cultures in that speakers convey messages using
indirect and implicit means, and listeners use contextual cues to
discern the meaning that underlies the verbal portion of the mes-
sage. Consequently, when parents tell their children that‘‘romance
is for marriage,’ parental expectations of children’s sexual
conduct are abundantly clear even without specifically and
verbally referring to sexual intercourse (Gudykunst, 2001;Kim
&Ward,2007). Consistent and strong parental condemnation of
pre-marital intercourse may induce feelings of guilt around the
expression of sexuality, including feelings of sexual desire.
With restrictive sexual messages being transmitted from gen-
eration to generation in this manner, heightened sex guilt in
unmarried East Asian women may dampen sexual desire.
As a result of the similarities among Japanese, Korean, and
Chinese cultures in regard to sexuality, the current study com-
bined women from these cultures into a single group. However,
given that the East Asian group was primarily comprised of
Chinese women (84% of the East Asian sample), the results of
the current study are most reflective of the effects of sex guilt and
conservatism on desire in Chinese women.
Acculturation in East Asian Women and Sexuality
Because recent research has demonstrated the importance of
studying bidimensional acculturation in sexuality research (e.g.,
Ahrold & Meston, 2010; Brotto et al., 2005,2007;Meston&
Ahrold, 2010; Woo & Brotto, 2008; Woo, Brotto, & Yule, 2009b),
we examined the effect of both mainstream and heritage accul-
turation on sexual desire, sexual conservatism, and sex guilt.
The findings that greater mainstream acculturation was signifi-
cantly associated with less sex guilt and that the positive cor-
relation between mainstream acculturation and sexual desire was
marginally significant were consistent with recent research on
how acculturation, measured bidimensionally, affects East Asian
sexuality. The data also suggest that it was degree of westerni-
zation, but not retention of culture of origin, that was associated
with sexual desire and mediated by sex guilt.
In contrast to the mediation analyses conducted with ethnicity
as the predictor variable in which both sexual conservatism and
sex guilt mediated the relationship between ethnic group and sex-
ual desire, sex guilt but not sexual conservatism was found to
mediate the relationship between mainstream acculturation and
sexual desire. Among the East Asian women, greater mainstream
Arch Sex Behav
123
acculturation (or westernization) was associated with less sex
guilt, which was associated with greater sexual desire. This find-
ing suggests that the specific construct of sex guilt has more utility
than the general notion of sexual conservatism in furthering the
understanding of how culture influences sexual desire. In exam-
ining the role of sex guilt in the relationship between bidimen-
sional acculturation and sexual desire in East Asian women, the
current study unites the literature on the effects of acculturation on
East Asian sex guilt with the literature on the association between
sex guilt and sexual function, of which sexual desire is one com-
ponent. The results of this mediation analysis were congruent
with the findings by Abramson and Imai-Marquez (1982)that
increasing westernization is associated with less sex guilt, as well
as with several studies that found an inverse relationship between
sex guilt and sexual function (Cado & Leitenberg, 1990; Darling
et al., 1992; Galbraith, 1969; Nobre & Pinto-Gouveia, 2006).
On the other hand, the finding that heritage acculturation was
not correlated with sex guilt, sexual conservatism or sexual desire
stood in contrast to our hypothesis which was that sex guilt would
mediate the relationship between heritage acculturation and
sexual desire in the East Asian women. Taken together, these
findings suggest that sex guilt may be salient in the process of
westernization and becoming more sexually open whereas sex
guilt is likely unrelated to the extent to which individuals continue
to embrace the values of their heritage culture. Moreover, these
findings suggest that among acculturating East Asian women,
sexual conservatism alone is inadequate in accounting for changes
in sexual desire that come about with westernization. Sex guilt
offers a better explanation. Other researchers have also noted
that the effects of acculturation on sexuality appear to be distinct
from the effects of conservatism on sexuality. For example,
Ahrold and Meston (2010) found that acculturation did not
mediate the relationship between religious conservatism and
sexual attitudes.
Limitations
This study had some limitations that may affect the conclusions
drawn. Firstly, our university sample was significantly younger
than women in the general population, leading to concerns about
the generalizability of our findings. This is of particular signif-
icance in this study because the vast majority of the women in
our sample were unmarried and it is not possible to draw conclu-
sions about the relationships among ethnicity or acculturation,
sex guilt, and sexual desire in married women based on the
current findings. Because of the traditional East Asian view that
sexual intercourse is acceptable in the context of marriage, it is
conceivable that sex guilt may not play a similar role in low
sexual desire among married East Asian women. Secondly, the
East Asian women in this sample were likely to be more main-
stream acculturated and less heritage acculturated than those in
the general population and thus we were unable to ascertain
whether the relationships observed in this study would hold for
East Asian women in the general population. Thirdly, whereas
the DSFI, the VIA, and the FSFI have been validated in Chinese
samples (Chang, Chang, Chen, & Lin, 2009; Ryder et al., 2000;
Tang et al., 1997), the RMGI has not been validated in East
Asian populations. This may, therefore, impact any conclusions
about the construct of sexual guilt that is drawn. Fourthly, and
perhaps most importantly, we used a measure of sexual desire that
was developed and validated on samples of Caucasian women. It
is unclear whether the construct of sexual desire is equivalent in
EastAsianandWesterncultures. It was not possible to examine
this within the current study, but future research using qualitative
methods may be able to shed light on how individuals within
the different cultures understand and experience sexual desire.
Finally, although the current study found that sex guilt played a
role in cultural differences in sexual desire, it is possible that other
factors that were not examined in this study may have led to these
results. For example, there may be cultural differences in the
social desirability of reporting high levels of sexual desire which
may account for the current results.
Clinical Implications and Conclusion
The finding that elevated sex guilt among East Asian women
was one factor that accounted for the ethnic disparity in prev-
alence of low sexual desire may have implications for our under-
standing of sexual difficulties in East Asian women. Although
numerous studies have documented cross-cultural differences
in rates of sexual difficulties (e.g. Brotto et al., 2005;Cainetal.,
2003; Laumann et al., 2005), to the best of our knowledge, no
study has aimed to explain these differences. Data on psycho-
logical treatment efficacy for women with hypoactive sexual
desire disorder are sparse (Hawton, Catalan, & Fagg, 1991;
Hurlbert, 1993; McCabe, 2001; Schover & LoPiccolo, 1982;
Trudel et al., 2001), and the extent to which they generalize
to East Asian women is unknown. Our findings indicate that,
because sex guilt may be an important variable mediating East
Asian women’s sexual desire, sex guilt might be targeted in
psychological treatment of low desire. To date, psychological
treatment interventions for desire disorder have included vari-
ous combinations of sensate focus, relationship enhancement
exercises, sexual skills training, cognitive challenging, mind-
fulness, provision of sexual information, sexual fantasy train-
ing, and homework exercises (Brotto, Basson, & Luria, 2008;
Hawton et al., 1991; Hurlbert, 1993; McCabe, 2001; Schover &
LoPiccolo, 1982;Trudeletal.,2001). Although these treatments
have generally been found to be effective, East Asian women
presenting with low desire may benefit especially if sex guilt
were a treatment target. For example, automatic thoughts rela-
ted to sex guilt (e.g.,‘‘I am an immoral person for wanting sex’’or
‘It is wrong for a woman to initiate sexual activity’) may be
directly challenged and replaced with thoughts that are less
reflective of guilt. The subsequent impact on sexual desire might
then be measured as it would be expected to improve.
Arch Sex Behav
123
To conclude, this study replicated several prior findings of
ethnic differences in sexuality between East Asian and Caucasian
women. More importantly, this study also enhances our under-
standing of the mechanisms by which ethnicity and acculturation
affect sexual desire and has implications for understanding the
etiology and the treatment of low desire in East Asian women.
Acknowledgement Funding for this study came from a Hampton
Research Fund from the University of British Columbia awarded to L. A.
Brotto. J.S.T. Woo was awarded the 2010 Society for Sex Therapy and
Research Student Award for this research.
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... Por otro lado, algunos de los estudios que relacionan el proceso de aculturación con las actitudes sexuales han encontrado el efecto de variables moderadoras (p.e., Ahrold y Meston, 2010; Blanc y Rojas, 2020) o mediadoras (p.e., Woo et al., 2011). Por ejemplo, Blanc y Rojas (2020) encuentran que el sexo modera la relación entre el proceso de aculturación y las actitudes sexuales. ...
... Esto es, las relaciones entre el proceso de aculturación y las actitudes sexuales no son igual en todos los grupos etnoculturales. En cuanto a los efectos de mediación, se ha encontrado que las actitudes sexuales median la relación entre el proceso de aculturación y la salud sexual (Woo et al., 2011). ...
... Los estudios que han relacionado el proceso de aculturación y las actitudes sexuales no han sido muy abundantes en la literatura científica y se han desarrollado en Estados Unidos (p.e., Guo, 2019) y Canadá (p.e., Dang et al., 2019). Estos estudios se han centrado principalmente en asiáticos (p.e., Woo et al., 2011) y latinos (p.e., Castañeda, 2017), aunque algún estudio también ha incluido a africanos (Blanc y Rojas, 2020) o iraníes (p.e., Abdolsalehi-Najafi y Beckman, 2013). En España, hasta la fecha no existen estudios que hayan relacionado el proceso de aculturación con las actitudes sexuales. ...
... Men, in other words, are praised for experiences enhancing sexual activity (Byers, 1996;Simon & Gagnon, 1986;Vannier & O'Sullivan, 2012;Wiederman, 2005), whereas women are often chastised and sometimes even condemned when found to be engaging in the same behaviors (Emmers-Sommer, 2002). In fact, it has been exhibited that women's sexual functioning is to a great extent based on their levels of sex guilt (Woo et al., 2011), with greater levels of sex guilt significantly linked to poorer levels of sexual functioning, less sexual experience, less engagement in sexual activities (e.g. oral sex, petting, intercourse) (Love et al., 1976;Mosher & Cross, 1971), and less sexual desire (Woo et al., 2011). ...
... In fact, it has been exhibited that women's sexual functioning is to a great extent based on their levels of sex guilt (Woo et al., 2011), with greater levels of sex guilt significantly linked to poorer levels of sexual functioning, less sexual experience, less engagement in sexual activities (e.g. oral sex, petting, intercourse) (Love et al., 1976;Mosher & Cross, 1971), and less sexual desire (Woo et al., 2011). Consequently, because men are perceived to have a more assertive and significant role when it comes to initiating the sexual relationship, their levels of guilt also have an impact on the sexual behaviors that will occur in the relationship (Darling & Davidson, 1987;Emmers-Sommer et al., 2018;Wiederman, 2005). ...
... Being a salient factor in determining sexual satisfaction in individuals, the role of sex guilt as a mediating variable of the relation between relationship and sexual satisfaction remains unexplored. Available studies on sex guilt in religious cultures and its associations with sexual satisfaction and religiosity have been done through an intercultural etic approach (Emmers-Sommer et al., 2018;Woo et al., 2011Woo et al., , 2012. Moreover, investigations on sex guilt have been done on different cultures, such as Iranian, Chinese, Japanese, and Latino, populations among others, but none on a strongly Catholic culture, such as the Filipino population (Emmers-Sommer et al., 2018;Tang et al., 2013). ...
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This study aimed to determine the role of sex guilt as a mediating variable in the association between relationship and sexual satisfaction in the Filipino culture. Sex guilt is the generalized expectancy for self-mediated punishment for violating, or for the anticipation of violating, proper sexual conduct. Using intersectionality as a lens, this study imposed a mediation model on four categories: (1) Unmarried Filipino Women; (2) Married Filipino Women; (3) Unmarried Filipino Men; (4) Married Filipino Men. Secondary analysis of data from 630 Filipino participants completing an online questionnaire of sexual behaviors was done. Results showed that sex guilt has no significant associations with relationship and sexual satisfaction in both Married Filipino Women and Unmarried Filipino Men. However, sex guilt exhibited a significant indirect effect in the link between relationship and sexual satisfaction in both Unmarried Filipino Women and Married Filipino Men. Results of this study could aid in finding a culturally grounded definition of sexual satisfaction, implementation of sexual health programs, education, and addressing needs of married couples in marital and relationship therapy in the country.
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... In fact, a so-called 'fading affect bias' has been demonstrated in several studies, indicating that the intensity of an emotion being associated with a negative autobiographical memory fades faster than the emotion being associated with a positive one (e.g., [38,39]). This psychological effect, though important, for example, for promoting a positive selfconcept may additionally explain the lower frequency of feelings of guilt related to rather negative behaviors such as "Telling lies/withholding truth/information" and "Misbehavior towards/bad thinking of someone" and the generally identified lower average numbers of stated reasons for feeling guilty in participants of the older (45-59, 60+) compared to participants of the younger age groups (18)(19)(20)(21)(22)(23)(24)(25)(26)(27)(28)(29)(30)(31)(32)(33)(34)(35)(36)(37)(38)(39)(40)(41)(42)(43)(44). ...
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Background Experiencing some sort of guilt is a common phenomenon in adulthood. As feeling guilty is usually unpleasant and may even lead to further negative psychological consequences like depression, the aim of this study was to provide comprehensive information on the reasons for such feelings in adults. Methods A cross-sectional web-based survey was conducted between May 2019 and April 2020, collecting qualitative information on reasons for feeling guilty in n = 604 adults (mean/SD age = 45.3/16.4 years; n = 346/57.3% women, n = 255/42.2% men and n = 3/0.5% adults without identification with a particular gender). Stated reasons were inductively classified into (super-)/categories, and information on frequency and percentage (total, gender- and age-specific) for each of these (super-)/categories was provided. Results Participants altogether stated 1515 reasons for feeling guilty that were classified into 12 supercategories and 49 categories. “Telling lies/withholding truth/information” followed by “Not spending (enough) time with family (members)/Not taking (enough) care of family (members)/not being there for family (members)” were the most frequent categories of reasons for feeling guilty in the sample. Guilt feelings explicitly referring to “religious beliefs” or a “subjectively perceived more general responsibility’” (e.g., for society, humankind, problems of the world), by contrast, were of minor importance. Male and female participants as well as participants of different ages showed similarities but also several differences in stated reasons for feeling guilty. Female participants, for example, more often experienced feelings of guilt related to family members, children and to some kind of general responsibility for the wellbeing of others, whereas male participants felt guilty more often because of some kind of misconduct/mistakes being made or because of difficulties in marriage/relationship. Conclusions Adults can feel guilty for a wide variety of different reasons. Most reasons seem to be rather concrete (e.g., related to concrete negative self-attributions/flaws or to concrete social situations with concrete individuals). There also seem to be some age- and gender-related differences in reasons for feeling guilty.
... Acculturation was positively related to permissive sexual attitudes. More acculturated people Woo et al., 2011Woo et al., , 2012. In general, mainstream acculturation was positively related to liberal sexual attitudes and negatively related to sex guilt and dysfunctional sexual beliefs. ...
... Regarding the mediating effect, especially sex guilt mediated the relationship between mainstream acculturation and sexual desire Woo et al., 2011Woo et al., , 2012. This is in line with what was provided in the introduction. ...
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Introduction The culture plays an important role in sexuality. Although each ethnocultural group has its own sexual attitudes, in multicultural contexts, the acculturation process could modify the sexual attitudes of these groups. The aim of the study was to perform a systematic literature review of the studies that have examined the relationship between acculturation and sexual attitudes. Method The review was carried out in the ProQuest and Scopus databases. There was no time restriction in literature search. Results A total of 25 studies met the inclusion criteria. The year of publication of the studies ranged from 1982 to 2020. The studies were conducted in the USA and/or in Canada and included mainly Asians and Latinos/Hispanics. Proxy indicators, unidimensional, and bidimensional measures were used to measure acculturation. In general, results show that mainstream acculturation is positively related to liberal or positive sexual attitudes. Relevant interaction and mediation effects were also found: (1) mainstream dimension moderates the relationship between heritage dimension and sexual attitudes, (2) heritage dimension moderates the relationship between mainstream dimension and sexual attitudes, (3) acculturation moderates the relation between gender and sexual attitudes, (4) gender moderates the relation between acculturation and sexual attitudes, (5) the ethnocultural origin moderates the relationship between acculturation and sexual attitudes, and (6) sex guilt mediated the relationship between mainstream acculturation and sexual desire. Conclusion The acculturation process is related to sexual attitudes. Policy Implications Knowing the acculturation process could be important to achieve greater equity in sexual health among different groups.
... They Dialogue on sexuality could be anxiety-provoking. Despite a profound social revolution over the last two decades, many Chinese maintain a relatively conservative attitude towards sexuality (Woo et al., 2011), and therefore not much has changed over this time-frame (Higgins et al., 2002). Although Hong Kong is considered the 'Asiatic World City' and the most westernised Chinese society due to its heritage as a former ...
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... Sexual attitudes and behaviors differ across cultures and ethnicities, which have been interpreted using various theoretical frameworks, such as cognitive social learning theory and social structural theory (see Petersen & Hyde, 2010). In fact, East Asians, including the Japanese, are considerably more conservative in sexual behavior and attitudes, compared to Westerners (Brotto et al., 2012;Dang et al., 2019;Woo et al., 2011). In one study (Busch, 2020), Asian Americans reported higher levels of unacceptability of fantasizing about others both romantically and sexually than Black, White, and Hispanic or Latino Americans. ...
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... Should this be the case, it is likely that such reactions would increase the sexual distress in the higher-desire partner, since the negative psychological impact of sexual rejection is well known (Dobson et al., 2020;Ford & Collins, 2013), particularly when this rejection is perceived as hostile (Kim et al., in press). This may also result in greater guilt and sexual distress for the lower-desire partner, given that low sexual desire has been associated with higher sexual guilt (Woo et al., 2011). Similarly, other scenarios, such as the low-desire partner engaging in sexual activity to avoid disappointing their partner, have also been associated with lower individual and relational well-being in both partners (Muise et al., 2012) and may result in both partners experiencing increased sexual distress. ...
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We examined potential differences in sexual knowledge and attitudes between 702 Canadian undergraduates of Asian (n = 356) and European (n = 346) ancestry. We also examined potential influences of length of residency in Canada on these variables among Asians, and the role of gender both across and within ethnic groups. The primary purpose was to examine whether length of exposure to North American sexual values influences sexual knowledge or attitudes among Asians living in Canada. Results revealed that compared to Europeans, Asians held more conservative sexual attitudes and demonstrated significantly less sexual knowledge. Recent Asian immigrants were significantly more likely than Canadian‐born or long‐term Canadian residents to hold conservative sexual attitudes on a number of sexuality items. Among Asians and Non‐Asians, males reported more negative attitudes toward homosexuals than did females; females held more conservative sexual attitudes toward uncommitted sexual relations than did males. The findings provide partial support for a cultural explanation of the frequently reported finding that, compared with North Americans, Asians are more restricted in their expression of sexuality.
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The present paper describes the first extensive controlled study designed to assess and treat Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSD) following an innovative, short-term, cognitive-behavioral group treatment program. HSD is well known to be among the most complex and difficult sexual disorders to treat. While the clinical literature reports positive treatment outcomes and descriptions of successful sex therapy techniques for sexual desire disorders, most of these are based primarily on single or multiple case studies following various therapeutic approaches. To date, there are no comprehensive controlled treatment outcome studies on the effect cognitive-behavioral treatment has on HSD. Results of this study are presented, as well as some descriptive information on women presenting with HSD. In general, results indicate that the treatment protocol is effective. It not only decreases the symptoms of this sexual disorder, but also improves overall cognitive, behavioral and marital functioning associated with HSD.
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Although parents greatly influence children’s early understandings of sexuality, little is known about how sexual communication transpires in Asian American families. Accordingly, the authors examined the amount and type of parental sexual communication recalled by 165 Asian American college students. Parents were perceived as providing very little information about a range of sexual topics. Communication was most minimal from fathers, among sons, and in homes marked with language barriers. At the same time, however, most participants could recall receiving restrictive sexual messages, in particular, daughters and participants having less acculturated parents. Qualitative results shed light on the specific types of sexual messages that parents provided. Together, results suggest that Asian American parents use implicit and nonverbal ways to communicate their sexual values.
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There is a paucity of empirical data available on how ethnicity affects various sexual behaviors on college campuses. A questionnaire was mailed to a random sample of college students, and 1,173 students completed the questions requesting information about their sexual, contraceptive and STD‐related behavior. Minority students—Asians, Blacks, and Latinos—were oversampled in order to test numerous effects of ethnic group on selected sexual, contraceptive, and STD‐related behaviors. In general, ethnicity had little effect on the behaviors studied, especially after controlling for background variables such as socioeconomic status. However, Asians and Latinos appeared to be slightly more conservative sexually than the other groups. There is room for improvement in the sexual practices related to contraception and STDs. Anal intercourse, while not common, was far from negligible, with 14.6 percent of students having engaged in it. Condom use was low for vaginal intercourse, and even lower for anal intercourse.
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Forced-choice and true-false guilt scales which controlled for social desirability were developed from a sentence-completion measure of guilt for 3 subcategories of guilt: Sex Guilt, Hostile Guilt, and Morality-Conscience Guilt. The 3 methods of measuring the 3 aspects of guilt were examined in a multitrait-multimethod matrix based on 95 male Ss. The matrix provided promising evidence of convergent and discriminant validity of the 3 guilt subcategories as measured by the forced-choice and true-false methods. Further evidence of discriminant validity was provided by including anxiety and social desirability scores as measured by 2 methods in the matrix. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Introduction: Health professionals should pay more attention to the sexual concerns of pregnant women. An assessment instrument for female sexual function is needed for pregnant women in the Taiwanese population. Aim: To translate the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) from English to traditional Chinese, and to evaluate the reliability and validity of this new version for pregnant women. Methods: Test-retest reliability of the newly developed Taiwan version of the FSFI for pregnant women was assessed in 55 pregnant women who completed this version of the questionnaire at two time points within 4 weeks. The internal consistency reliability and construct validity of the Taiwan version of the FSFI in a medical center in Taiwan were evaluated using a random sample of 121 pregnant women. Main outcome measures: Reliability was tested using Cronbach's alpha coefficient, Kappa statistics, McNemar's test, and Pearson's correlation coefficient. Construct validity was verified by factor analysis using the principal component option. Results: The Taiwan version of the FSFI showed adequate test-retest reliability for pregnant women. The Pearson correlation coefficient of the total score was 0.69, Kappa statistics showed good reproducibility for most items, and McNemar's test confirmed that there were no significant differences in the test-retest pair for the 19 items of the scale. The internal consistency reliability of the scale was excellent (Cronbach's [alpha] = 0.96). Three factors were identified with eigenvalues > or =1.03, explaining 87.10% of the total variance. The first, second, and third factors were "coitus,"satisfaction," and "desire", accounting for 72.32%, 9.37%, and 5.42% of the variance, respectively. Conclusion: The results provided evidence of the validity and reliability of the Taiwan version of the FSFI for pregnant women. The questionnaire is a suitable instrument for measuring the sexual function of pregnant women and will be useful in research, teaching, and clinical practice.
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Introduction: Although age of first intercourse and the emotional aspects of that experience are often a target in assessment because they are thought to contribute to later sexual functioning, research to date on how sexual debut relates to adult sexual functioning has been limited and contradictory. Aim: The goal of this study was to explore the association between age of first intercourse and adult sexual function in a sample of Euro-Canadian and Asian Canadian university students. In addition, culture-based comparisons of sexual complaints were made to clarify the role of culture in sexual response. Methods: Euro-Canadian (N = 299) and Asian Canadian (N = 329) university students completed the Golombok-Rust Inventory of Sexual Satisfaction and the Vancouver Index of Acculturation. Main outcome measures: Self-reported sexual problems and bidimensional acculturation. Results: Ethnic group comparisons revealed that Asians reported more sexual complaints including sexual avoidance, dissatisfaction and non-sensuality. Among the women, Asians reported higher scores on the Vaginismus and Anorgasmia subscales whereas the ethnic groups did not differ on the male-specific measures of sexual complaints. In the overall sample, older age of first intercourse was associated with more sexual problems as an adult, including more sexual infrequency, sexual avoidance, and non-sensuality. Among the Asian Canadians, less identification with Western culture was predictive of more sexual complaints overall, more sexual noncommunication, more sexual avoidance, and more non-sensuality. For Asian women, acculturation interacted with age of first intercourse to predict Vaginismus scores. Conclusions: Overall, these data replicate prior research that found that a university sample of individuals of Asian descent have higher rates of sexual problems and that this effect can be explained by acculturation. Earlier sexual debut was associated with fewer sexual complaints in adulthood.
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We investigated the effects of elated and depressed affect on sexual arousal in 15 sexually functional males. Subjects received elation and depression mood inductions in a repeated-measures design. Immediately following each induction, subjects viewed a brief erotic film during which penile tumescence and subjective sexual arousal were recorded continuously. Following depression induction there was a trend toward diminished subjective sexual arousal in the early portion of erotic exposure, and achievement of maximum subjective arousal was delayed; however, penile tumescence was unaffected. Multiple regression analysis indicated that tumescence during erotica was predictive of posterotica affect, independent of pre-erotica affect. The findings of delayed subjective arousal with no diminution in tumescence, although contrary to predictions, are consistent with previous research with sexually dysfunctional men. The study provides partial support for the role of depressed affect in the etiology of erectile dysfunction.