The relationships among attitudes toward sexual fantasy, depth of absorption, and subjective sexual arousal in women: The experimental use of guided imagery

Sandra R. Scantling (1990)

This study, using guided sexual imagery, investigated the effects of attitude toward sexual fantasy and depth of absorption on 5 measures of subjective sexual arousal in women. Based on the cognitive position elaborated by Neisser (1976) and components of Mosher's sexual involvement theory (1980), the writer argued that intensity of sexual arousal can be predicted by one's attitude toward sexual imagery and one's ability to become absorbed in the sexual imagery. Fifty-three female participants, ages 24-63, completed the following measures: Absorption Scale (Tellegen & Atkinson, 1974) and a questionnaire on demographic information and past sexual experiences. They then listened to an explicit guided sexual imagery tape which was followed by the completion of five self-report ratings of sexual arousal (Mosher, Barton-Henry, & Green, 1984), and a measure of attitudes toward sexual fantasy adapted from a scale developed by Abramson and Mosher (1975). The data indicated (1) absorption is significantly correlated with sexual arousal, (2) absorption and attitude are correlated with each other and are not discrete variables, (3) attitude toward sexual fantasy is correlated with the amount of fantasizing and with the enjoyment of sex, but not with arousal, and (4) the best predictors of overall sexual arousal are the reported enjoyment of masturbation and the frequency of sexual fantasy. Important to the psychology of sexuality, this study indicates that attitude alone is an inadequate representation of the cognitive phenomena associated with sexual arousal. Moreover, absorption appears to contain one's attitudes and both are in an interlocking or fused set reflecting how one "thinks-feels" about sexual arousal.