Anxiety increases sexual arousal (1983)

Barlow, David H.; Sakheim, David K.; Beck, J. Gayle

Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol 92(1), Feb 1983, 49-54. doi: 10.1037/0021-843X.92.1.49


12 21–30 yr old males who were trained to expect tolerance-level electric shocks viewed an erotic film under 3 counterbalanced conditions. In 1 condition, Ss viewed the erotic film in conjunction with a signal light indicating threat of shock. A 2nd light indicated threat of shock if Ss did not achieve an erection of a certain size. A 3rd light indicated no shock. Both anxiety-inducing shock-threat conditions increased penile size response over and above the no-shock-threat condition. Furthermore, shock threat contingent on size of erection produced more arousal than noncontingent-shock threat.