Our major focus has been on the effects of anxiety and various cognitive sets both singly and in combination on sexual arousal in sexually functional and dysfunctional groups. A number of experiments have implicated, in a preliminary way, five factors that seem to differentiate functional from dysfunctional males in a sexual context. First, dysfunctional males consistently evidence negative affect in a sexual context while functional males display more positive affect. Second, dysfunctional males consistently underreport their levels of sexual arousal as measured by erectile response, and generally evidence diminished perceptions of control over their sexual arousal compared to functionals. Third, functional males are not """"""""distracted"""""""" by the presence of non-sexual performance related stimuli during erotic stimulation in that they evidence no decrease in erectile response, whereas functionals males are """"""""distracted"""""""" and show decreases in erectile response. Fourth, dysfunctional males are """"""""distracted"""""""" by performance related sexual stimuli while the sexual arousal of functional males is enhanced by the addition of these stimuli. Fifth, anxiety operationalized as shock threat increases sexual arousal in functionals but decreases it in functionals. These findings suggest a working model of sexual dysfunction that is based on cognitive interference and anxiety. Nevertheless, the results that contribute to this working model are preliminary and not based on direct comparisons between appropriate experimental operations. The purpose of the proposed series of studies is to replicate and extend the basic findings that suggest this working model to determine if it can be supported. While several experiments will consist of the necessary methodological or parametric investigations, the primary series of six experiments will examine the functional equivalence of sexually performance related cognitive sets implicated in sexual dysfunction with neutral distracting stimuli in functionals and dysfunctionals to determine if some of these cognitive sets are acting as """"""""distractors"""""""" to dysfunctionals. The second set of experiments will examine the interaction of anxiety with clinically relevant cognitive sets in both functionals and dysfunctionals.

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National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
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State University of New York at Albany
Schools of Arts and Sciences
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