Effects of repeated exposure to sexually violent or nonviolent stimuli on sexual arousal to rape and nonrape depictions (1984)

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Joseph Ceniti

Neil M. Malamuth

Abstract

The major purpose of this investigation was to examine the effects of repeated exposure to sexually violent stimuli (SVS) in relatively ‘naturalistic settings’ on sexual arousal to rape and nonrape stimuli. Repeated exposure effects using nonviolent erotica were also examined. Sixty-nine male Ss participated in the study. A preexposure session was conducted in which Ss were exposed to written and pictorial depictions of rape and mutually-consenting intercourse. Based on Ss' penile tumescence to these depictions, they were classified as either Force-oriented, Nonforce-oriented or Unclassifiable. Subsequently, Ss were randomly assigned to sexually violent (SVS), sexually nonviolent (SNVS) or control conditions within each force-orientation group. Those assigned to the SVS condition were then exposed to 10 SVS including feature-length films and written and pictorial depictions over a period of 4 weeks. Ss in the SNVS condition were exposed to 10 similar media presentations depicting sexually nonviolent activities only. Ss in the control condition were not exposed to any stimuli during this 4-week period.

Soon after completion of the exposure phase, Ss returned for a postexposure laboratory session in which they were presented with four depictions that were similar in theme to those in the preexposure session. Penile tumescence scores and self-reports of sexual arousal were obtained. Results revealed that, for Force-oriented Ss, those exposed to either SVS or SNVS were less aroused to the rape depictions in the postexposure session than those in the control condition. A similar pattern occurred with the nonrape depictions for these Ss, though it was considerably less pronounced. No evidence of a similar ‘satiation’ pattern was obtained for either Nonforce-oriented or Unclassifiable Ss, with these Ss showing no significant differences among the three exposure conditions.

The findings are discussed in the context of cognitions, personality differences, conditioning processes, stimulus parameters and response habituation theories. Social and clinical implications are also discussed.