When Does Responsiveness Pique Sexual Interest? Attachment and Sexual Desire in Initial Acquaintanceships

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2012 Jul;38(7):946-58. doi: 10.1177/0146167212441028. Epub 2012 Apr 18.


Three studies examined the contribution of attachment orientation and perceived partner responsiveness to sexual desire in initial acquaintanceships. In all studies, participants discussed a recent negative event with an unfamiliar, opposite-sex partner and then rated how responsive this partner had been during the interaction and their desire to have sex with him or her. Study 1 examined the association between perceived partner responsiveness and sexual desire in randomly paired strangers. Studies 2 and 3 experimentally manipulated partner responsiveness by standardized Instant Messages (Study 2) and a confederate's responsive or unresponsive reactions during face-to-face interviews (Study 3). Results indicated that perceiving a partner as responsive was associated with heightened interest in sex with this partner, primarily among less avoidant people. These results are consistent with research showing that secure individuals see sex as a means of becoming close to relationship partners, whereas avoidant individuals tend to approach sex in distancing ways.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication
  • Female
  • Friends*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Libido
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Object Attachment*
  • Perception
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Students
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universities