Attention, arousal and expectancies in anxiety and sexual disorders

J Affect Disord. 2000 Dec;61(3):241-56. doi: 10.1016/s0165-0327(00)00341-4.


This paper reviews experimental studies of sexual disorders and anxiety disorders. Studies were mainly carried out in the laboratories and clinics with which each of the two authors is associated. Sex and anxiety are rather antipodal emotions but contrary to traditional views, there is no reason to believe that anxiety disorders are driven by underlying sexual problems or that sexual problems are maintained by anxiety. Both sex research and anxiety research focused on selective processing of disorder relevant information in patients. More in particular, studies are clustered in three groups. First, the authors examined selective attention for threat-related material in anxious patients and for non-sex-related material in sexually dysfunctional patients. Second, the (mis)interpretation of response information in both disorders is compared. Finally the authors discuss biased expectancies in anxiety and sexual disorders. Symmetries and asymmetries are highlighted and lines for further research are sketched.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Arousal*
  • Attention
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Set, Psychology*
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / psychology*