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Turning on and turning off: a focus group study of the factors that affect women's sexual arousal

Graham, Cynthia A., Sanders, Stephanie A., Milhausen, Robin R. and McBride, Kimberly R. (2004) Turning on and turning off: a focus group study of the factors that affect women's sexual arousal Archives of Sexual Behavior, 33, (6), pp. 527-538. (doi:10.1023/B:ASEB.0000044737.62561.fd). (PMID:15483367).

Record type: Article


The aim of this study was to inform the development of a questionnaire to assess a woman's tendency to respond with sexual excitation/inhibition in different situations. Nine focus groups, involving 80 women (M age = 34.3 years; range, 18-84), were conducted. Women described a wide range of physical (genital and nongenital), cognitive/emotional, and behavioral cues to arousal. The relationship between sexual interest (desire) and sexual arousal was complex; sexual interest was reported as sometimes preceding arousal, but at other times following it. Many women did not clearly differentiate between arousal and interest. Qualitative data on the factors that women perceived as enhancers and inhibitors of sexual arousal are presented, with a focus on the following themes: feelings about one's body; concern about reputation; unwanted pregnancy/contraception; feeling desired versus feeling used by a partner; feeling accepted by a partner; style of approach/initiation; and negative mood. The findings can help inform conceptualizations of sexual arousal in women.

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Published date: December 2004
Keywords: sexual arousal, sexual interest, sexual desire, women
Organisations: Psychology


Local EPrints ID: 196535
ISSN: 0004-0002
PURE UUID: 714a54d3-9405-474d-b8c7-4db57d81ea81
ORCID for Cynthia A. Graham: ORCID iD

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Date deposited: 08 Sep 2011 11:19
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 11:22

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Author: Stephanie A. Sanders
Author: Robin R. Milhausen
Author: Kimberly R. McBride

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