Exploring the Relationship between Sexual Compulsivity and Attentional Bias to Sex-Related Words in a Cohort of Sexually Active Individuals

Eur Addict Res. 2017;23(1):1-6. doi: 10.1159/000448732. Epub 2016 Oct 1.


Background/aims: If sexual compulsivity and other addictive behaviours share common aetiology, contemporary proposals about the role of attentional processes in understanding addictive behaviours are relevant.

Methods: To examine attentional biases for sex-related words among sexually active individuals and the relationship between sexual compulsivity and sexual behavioural engagement with attentional bias, 55 sexually active individuals completed a modified Stroop task and the sexual compulsivity scale.

Results: Findings showed attentional bias towards sex-related stimuli among sexually active participants. In addition, among those with low levels of sexual compulsivity, levels of attentional bias were the same across all levels of sexual experience. Among those with higher levels of sexual compulsivity, greater attentional bias was linked with lower levels of sexual experience.

Conclusion: Attentional preference for concern-related stimuli varies as a function of the interaction between how long a person has been active sexually and how compulsive their sexual behaviour is.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attentional Bias*
  • Compulsive Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reaction Time
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Stroop Test
  • Young Adult