An Online Assessment of Personality, Psychological, and Sexuality Trait Variables Associated with Self-Reported Hypersexual Behavior (2015)

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COMMENTS: Survey reported a common theme found in several other studies: Porn/sex addicts report greater arousabilty (cravings related to their addiction) combined with poorer sexual function (fear of experiencing erectile dysfunction).

Hypersexual" behavior represents a perceived inability to control one's sexual behavior. To investigate hypersexual behavior, an international sample of 510 self-identified heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual men and women completed an anonymous online self-report questionnaire battery.

Thus, the data indicated that hypersexual behavior is more common for males, and those who report being younger in age, more easily sexually excited, more sexually inhibited due to the threat of performance failure, less sexually inhibited due to the threat of performance consequences, and more impulsive, anxious, and depressed


Excerpt from paper:

The results generally support the notion of sexual addiction, specifically those aspects which suggest that individuals we classify as hypersexual may use sexual behavior as a coping strategy, may feel that they have little self-control  over their sexual behavior, and may continue to engage in sexual behavior despite substantially harmful consequences to themselves. Additionally, the results are generally consistent with the theories of  dual control, sexual impulsivity, and sexual compulsivity as separate entities, given the overall lack of moderation in the regression models. The findings are also consistent with prior literature reports of significant associations between higher sexual excitation, lower SIS2, and higher trait impulsivity with increased hypersexual behavior. In addition, the results are consistent with literature reports of significant associations between higher depressed mood, higher anxiety, and increased hypersexual behavior.

2015 Oct 26.

Walton MT1, Cantor JM2, Lykins AD3.

Abstract

"Hypersexual" behavior represents a perceived inability to control one's sexual behavior. To investigate hypersexual behavior, an international sample of 510 self-identified heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual men and women completed an anonymous online self-report questionnaire battery. In addition to age and sex (male), hypersexual behavior was related to higher scores on measures of sexual excitation, sexual inhibition due to the threat of performance failure, trait impulsivity, and both depressed mood and anxiety. In contrast, hypersexual behavior was related to lower scores on sexual inhibition due to the threat of performance consequences. Higher neuroticism and extraversion, as well as lower agreeableness and conscientiousness, also predicted hypersexual behavior. Interestingly, interactions among the variables assessed did not significantly predict hypersexual behavior, suggesting the possible existence of multiple and predominantly independent taxa for various persons reporting hypersexual behavior. Core personality features may also be present in persons with hypersexual behavior. Clinical implications and future research directions are discussed.

EXCERPTS FROM INTRODUCTION

Thus, the primary objectives of this study were to test whether the models of sexual impulsivity, sexual compulsivity, and dual control predicted, or interacted to predict hypersexual behavior. As such, we explored the validity of these three models in predicting hypersexual behavior by quantifying the sexual traits of sexual inhibition/sexual excitation (dual control), impulsivity (sexual impulsivity), and dysphoric mood states of depression and anxiety (sexual compulsivity).

If the dual control model explained hypersexuality, we hypothesized that hypersexual behavior would negatively correlate with sexual inhibition and positively correlate with sexual excitation (Hypothesis 1). If the sexual impulsivity model explained hypersexuality, we hypothesized that hypersexual behavior would positively correlate with trait impulsivity (Hypothesis 2). If the sexual compulsivity model explained hypersexuality, we hypothesized that hypersexual behavior would positively correlate with depressed mood and anxiety (Hypothesis 3). Lastly ,we hypothesized that depressed mood and anxiety (primary components of the sexual compulsivity model)would interact with sexual inhibition and sexual excitation (primary components of the dual control model) and trait impulsivity (the sexual impulsivity model) to predict hypersexual behavior (Hypothesis 4).

EXCERPT OF DISCUSSION

The current study found that sexual traits of sexual excitation, sexual inhibition, and impulsivity were strongly related to hypersexual behavior; higher propensity for sexual excitation, lower propensity for sexual inhibition due to the threat of performance consequences (SIS2), and higher trait impulsivity all positively predicted hypersexual behavior. The prediction that lower SIS1 (inhibition due to the threat of performance failure) would relate negatively to hypersexual behavior was not supported, although this variable was found to relate positively to hypersexual behavior. Psychological variables of depressed mood and anxiety were strongly related to hypersexual behavior, supporting the hypothesis that higher depressed mood and higher anxiety were related to increased hypersexual behavior. With respect to the interactions tested, neither depressed mood nor anxiety was found to moderate the relationships between the sexual traits assessed and hypersexual behavior.

Although not hypothesized, we subsequently used our hierarchical regression model to examine whether trait impulsivity moderated the relationships between sexual traits (sexual excitation and sexual inhibition), mood (depressed mood and anxiety), and hypersexual behavior. Similar to the results received for our regression models involving depressed mood and anxiety, trait impulsivity was found not to moderate the relationships between any of the predictor variables assessed and hypersexual behavior. Finally, we also used our previously described regression model to explore separately whether any NEO personality domains moderated the relationships between sexual traits, mood, and hypersexual behavior. The data showed little evidence that NEO personality domains interacted with either sexual traits or mood variables assessed and hypersexual behavior.

The results generally support the notion of sexual addiction, specifically those aspects which suggest that individuals we classify as hypersexual may use sexual behavior as a coping strategy, may feel that they have little self-control over their sexual behavior, and may continue to engage in sexual behavior despite substantially harmful consequences to themselves. Additionally, the results are generally consistent with the theories of dual control, sexual impulsivity, and sexual compulsivity as separate entities, given the overall lack of moderation in the regression models. The findings are also consistent with prior literature reports of significant associations between higher sexual excitation, lower SIS2 (Bancroft et al., 2003a, 2004; Winters et al., 2010), and higher trait impulsivity (Barth & Kinder, 1987; Kaplan,1995)with increased hypersexual behavior. In addition, the results are consistent with literature reports of significant associations between higher depressed mood, higher anxiety, and increased hypersexual behavior (Bancroft&Vukadinovic, 2004; Raymond et al., 2003; Reid & Carpenter, 2009).

Findings were consistent with reports indicating that persons who receive treatment for hypersexual behavior are more likely to be male around 35 years of age (Kafka & Hennen, 2003; Langstrom &Hanson, 2006). Surprisingly, the study found that females who exhibited significant hypersexual behavior were on average only 23 years of age, which is probably explained by the disproportionate number of female undergraduate participants who completed the survey questionnaire. The control variable of CSA was found to predict hypersexual behavior for depression and personality regression models, p\.05. In contrast, the control variables of sexual orientation and bipolar disorder did not predict hypersexual behavior individually across the three regression models analyzed. The non-significant findings for sexual orientation and bipolar disorder were inconsistent with aforementioned literature. However, collectively, the control variables of sexual orientation, CSA and bipolar disorder (entered in block 2 of the regression models) explained 2% of the variance in hypersexual behavior, p\.01.

In this study, bipolar disorder and CSA may not have individually predicted hypersexual behavior because too few participants reported bipolar disorder. In addition, the strength of the association between CSA and hypersexual behavior may have been affected because CSA was measured with a single item on the questionnaire which asked participants whether they had experienced CSA. It is possible that a single-item measure for CSA might not adequately assess the variety of presentations or subtypes of this construct. Furthermore, these relationships may have been stronger if we had specifically targeted populations with bipolar disorder and/or individuals with a history of CSA.

The finding that higher SIS1 predicted hypersexual behavior seems somewhat counterintuitive; however, some research has found that higher sexual inhibition related to the threat of performance failure is associated with erectile dysfunction and risky sexual behaviors in males (Bancroftet al., 2003a ,2009).Because risky sexual behaviors are common among hypersexual behaviors, it is possible that some hypersexual persons engage in unprotected sex (possibly because of greater genital sensation) to mitigate their sexual dysfunction and associated threat of sexual performance failure. Further, the results of this study found that depressed mood and anxiety were strong predictors of hypersexual behavior, and therefore, some hypersexual participants may be anxious about their sexual performance, as indicated by the higher scores for SIS1.

Collectively, the results suggest that hypersexual behavior is multifaceted; it may be that similar behavior comes about via one of three (or possibly more) taxa: First, hypersexual behavior for some persons is best explained as dysregulated sexual inhibition/sexual exhibition proneness. This finding suggests that these hypersexual persons are more easily sexually aroused when in the presence of an attractive person compared to the general population. Further, such persons are also likely to engage in sexual fantasies, be stimulated by pornography or simply erotic pictures, and interpret neutral social interactions to have a sexual component. Regarding sexual inhibition due to the threat of performance failure, some hypersexual persons are likely to experience sexual performance anxiety and difficulty maintaining arousal during sexual activity With respect to sexual inhibition due to the threat of performance consequences, some hypersexual persons are likely to be less inhibited about the personal consequences of engaging in sexual behavior—whether this involves being overheard by others or the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection, for example. Logically, it also follows that such hypersexual persons are likely to positively reinforce their propensities for sexual inhibition/sexual excitation by spending significant amounts of time and emotional energy thinking, fantasizing, and seeking out sexual stimuli relative to the general population.

Second, hypersexual behavior for another group is best explained as greater trait impulsivity when compared with adults whose sexual functioning is typical. This suggests that for persons whose trait impulsivity is a primary driver of their hypersexual behavior, there exists an underlying need to experience sexual pleasure (Giugliano, 2009),whether that be with another person or persons, or mainly solitary behavior such as masturbation during participation in an anonymous online chat site. Further, such hypersexual persons will probably exhibit little planning or cognitive thought regarding seeking out ongoing sexual experiences. The spontaneous triggering of hypersexual desire in some persons is most likely exacerbated by poor self-regulation of one’s sexual desires and little consideration shown for the potential adverse consequences of hypersexual behavior (e.g., relationship breakdown).

Finally, for some hypersexual persons, sexual behavior represents a maladaptive coping mechanism to relieve anxiety and depressed mood. Hypersexual behavior, for these persons, could originate as repetitive sexual thoughts and images that cause considerable personal psychological distress and are relieved through sexual behavior. For other persons, sexual compulsions are most likely driven to mitigate their experience of depressed mood and/ or anxiety. In such cases, and for hypersexual persons in general, any improvement in psychological or emotional well-being from engaging in such sexual behavior is likely to be temporary, as subsequent emotional states of guilt and shame can increase following sexual activity (Gilliland, South, Carpenter, & Hardy, 2011). In summary, the results collectively suggest that it may be central for clinicians treating hypersexual behavior to identify which of these potential taxa best explains a particular client’s behavior