Sexual Picture Processing Interferes with Decision-Making Under Ambiguity (2013)

Printer-friendly version

Archives of Sexual Behavior

June 2013

DOI 10.1007/s10508-013-0119-8

Abstract

Many people watch sexually arousing material on the Internet in order to receive sexual arousal and gratification. When browsing for sexual stimuli, individuals have to make several decisions, all possibly leading to positive or negative consequences. Decision-making research has shown that decisions under ambiguity are influenced by consequences received following earlier decisions. Sexual arousal might interfere with the decision-making process and should therefore lead to disadvantageous decision-making in the long run.

In the current study, 82 heterosexual, male participants watched sexual pictures, rated them with respect to sexual arousal, and were asked to indicate their current level of sexual arousal before and following the sexual picture presentation. Afterwards, subjects performed one of two modified versions of the Iowa Gambling Task in which sexual pictures were displayed on the advantageous and neutral pictures on the disadvantageous card decks or vice versa (n = 41/n = 41). Results demonstrated an increase of sexual arousal following the sexual picture presentation. Decision-making performance was worse when sexual pictures were associated with disadvantageous card decks compared to performance when the sexual pictures were linked to the advantageous decks. Subjective sexual arousal moderated the relationship between task condition and decision-making performance. This study emphasized that sexual arousal interfered with decision-making, which may explain why some individuals experience negative consequences in the context of cybersex use.

References

  1. Ariely, D., & Loewenstein, G. (2006). The heat of the moment: The effect of sexual arousal on sexual decision making. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 19, 87–98. doi:10.1002/bdm.501. CrossRef
  2. Arnow, B. A., Desmond, J. E., Banner, L. L., Glover, G. H., Solomon, A., Polan, M. L., et al. (2002). Brain activation and sexual arousal in healthy, heterosexual males. Brain, 125, 1014–1023. doi:10.1093/brain/awf108. CrossRef
  3. Bancroft, J., Graham, C. A., Janssen, E., & Sanders, S. A. (2009). The dual control model: Current status and future directions. Journal of Sex Research, 46, 121–142. doi:10.1080/00224490902747222. CrossRef
  4. Bechara, A. (2007). Iowa Gambling Task Professional Manual. Lutz: Psychological Assessment Resources.
  5. Bechara, A., Damasio, H., & Damasio, A. R. (2000a). Emotion, decision making and the orbitofrontal cortex. Cerebral Cortex, 10, 295–307. doi:10.1093/cercor/10.3.295. CrossRef
  6. Bechara, A., Damasio, H., & Damasio, A. R. (2003). Role of the amygdala in decision-making. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 985, 356–369. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2003.tb07094.x. CrossRef
  7. Bechara, A., Damasio, R., Damasio, H., & Anderson, S. W. (1994). Insensitivity to future consequences following damage to human prefrontal cortex. Cognition, 50, 7–15. doi:10.1016/0010-0277(94)90018-3. CrossRef
  8. Bechara, A., Damasio, H., Damasio, A. R., & Lee, G. P. (1999). Different contributions of the human amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex to decision-making. Journal of Neuroscience, 19, 5473–5481.
  9. Bechara, A., Damasio, H., Tranel, D., & Damasio, A. R. (1997). Deciding advantageously before knowing the advantageous strategy. Science, 275, 1293–1295. doi:10.1126/science.275.5304.1293. CrossRef
  10. Bechara, A., & Martin, E. M. (2004). Impaired decision making related to working memory deficits in individuals with substance addictions. Neuropsychology, 18, 152–162. doi:10.1037/0894-4105.18.1.152. CrossRef
  11. Bechara, A., Tranel, D., & Damasio, H. (2000b). Characterization of the decision-making deficit of patients with ventromedial prefrontal cortex lesions. Brain, 123, 2189–2202. doi:10.1093/brain/123.11.2189. CrossRef
  12. Bolla, K. I., Eldreth, D. A., London, E. D., Kiehl, K. A., Mouratidis, M., Contoreggi, C., et al. (2003). Orbitofrontal cortex dysfunction in abstinent cocaine abusers performing a decision-making task. NeuroImage, 19, 1085–1094. doi:10.1016/S1053-8119(03)00113-7. CrossRef
  13. Bowman, C. H., & Turnbull, O. H. (2003). Real versus facsimile reinforcers on the Iowa Gambling Task. Brain and Cognition, 53, 207–210. doi:10.1016/S0278-2626(03)00111-8. CrossRef
  14. Brand, M., & Altstötter-Gleich, C. (2008). Personality and decision-making in laboratory gambling tasks—Evidence for a relationship between deciding advantageously under risk conditions and perfectionism. Personality and Individual Differences, 45, 226–231. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2008.04.003. CrossRef
  15. Brand, M., Labudda, K., & Markowitsch, H. J. (2006). Neuropsychological correlates of decision-making in ambiguous and risky situations. Neural Networks, 19, 1266–1276. doi:10.1016/j.neunet.2006.03.001. CrossRef
  16. Brand, M., Laier, C., Pawlikowski, M., & Markowitsch, H. J. (2009). Decision making with and without feedback: The role of intelligence, strategies, executive functions, and cognitive styles. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 31, 984–998. doi:10.1080/13803390902776860. CrossRef
  17. Brand, M., Laier, C., Pawlikowski, M., Schächtle, U., Schöler, T., & Altstötter-Gleich, C. (2011). Watching pornographic pictures on the Internet: Role of sexual arousal ratings and psychological–psychiatric symptoms for using Internet sex sites excessively. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 14, 371–377. doi:10.1089/cyber.2010.0222. CrossRef
  18. Brand, M., Recknor, E. C., Grabenhorst, F., & Bechara, A. (2007). Decisions under ambiguity and decisions under risk: Correlations with executive functions and comparisons of two different gambling tasks with implicit and explicit rules. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 29, 86–99. doi:10.1080/13803390500507196. CrossRef
  19. Buelow, M. T., & Suhr, J. A. (2009). Construct validity of the Iowa Gambling Task. Neuropsychology Review, 19, 102–114. doi:10.1007/s11065-009-9083-4. CrossRef
  20. Cohen, J., Cohen, P., West, S. G., & Aiken, L. S. (2003). Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  21. Cooper, A., Delmonico, D., Griffin-Shelley, E., & Mathy, R. (2004). Online sexual activity: An examination of potentially problematic behaviors. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 11, 129–143. doi:10.1080/10720160490882642. CrossRef
  22. Cooper, A., McLoughlin, I. P., & Campbell, K. M. (2000). Sexuality in cyberspace: Update for the 21st century. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 3, 521–536. doi:10.1089/109493100420142. CrossRef
  23. de Vries, M., Holland, R. W., & Witteman, C. L. M. (2008). In the winning mood: Affect in the Iowa Gambling Task. Judgment and Decision Making, 3, 42–50.
  24. Dolan, R. J. (2002). Emotion, cognition, and behavior. Science, 298, 1191–1194. doi:10.1126/science.1076358. CrossRef
  25. Dolcos, F., & McCarthy, G. (2006). Brain systems mediating cognitive interference by emotional distraction. Journal of Neuroscience, 26, 2072–2079. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5042-05.2006. CrossRef
  26. Döring, N. M. (2009). The Internet’s impact on sexuality: A critical review of 15 years of research. Computers in Human Behavior, 25, 1089–1101. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2009.04.003. CrossRef
  27. Dunn, B. D., Dalgleish, T., & Lawrence, A. D. (2006). The somatic marker hypothesis: A critical evaluation. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 30, 239–271. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2005.07.001. CrossRef
  28. Erk, S., Kleczar, A., & Walter, H. (2007). Valence-specific regulation effects in a working memory task with emotional context. NeuroImage, 37, 623–632. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.05.006. CrossRef
  29. Gotoh, F. (2008). Influence of affective valence on working memory processes. International Journal of Psychology, 43, 59–71. doi:10.1080/00207590701318306. CrossRef
  30. Goudriaan, A. E., Oosterlaan, J., Beurs, E. D., & Brink, W. V. D. (2005). Decision making in pathological gambling: A comparison between pathological gamblers, alcohol dependents, persons with Tourette syndrome, and normal controls. Cognitive Brain Research, 23, 137–151. doi:10.1016/j.cogbrainres.2005.01.017. CrossRef
  31. Griffiths, M. (2001). Sex on the Internet: Observations and implications for Internet sex addiction. Journal of Sex Research, 38, 333–342. doi:10.1080/00224490109552104. CrossRef
  32. Grov, C., Gillespie, B. J., Royce, T., & Lever, J. (2011). Perceived consequences of casual online sexual activities on heterosexual relationships: A U.S. online survey. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 429–439. doi:10.1007/s10508-010-9598-z. CrossRef
  33. Hald, G. M., & Malamuth, N. M. (2008). Self-perceived effects of pornography consumption. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 37, 614–625. doi:10.1007/s10508-007-9212-1. CrossRef
  34. Hamann, S. (2001). Cognitive and neural mechanisms of emotional memory. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 5, 394–400. doi:10.1016/S1364-6613(00)01707-1. CrossRef
  35. Holstege, G., Georgiadis, J. R., Paans, A. M. J., Meiners, L. C., van der Graaf, F. H. C. E., & Reinders, A. A. T. S. (2003). Brain activation during human male ejaculation. Journal of Neuroscience, 23, 9185–9193. doi:10.1097/WNR.0b013e3280b10bfe.
  36. Janssen, E. (2011). Sexual arousal in men: A review and conceptual analysis. Hormones and Behavior, 59, 708–716. doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2011.03.004. CrossRef
  37. Janssen, E., Everaerd, W., Spiering, M., & Janssen, J. (2000). Automatic processes and the appraisal of sexual stimuli: Toward an information processing model of sexual arousal. Journal of Sex Research, 37, 8–23. doi:10.1080/00224490009552016. CrossRef
  38. Janssen, E., Prause, N., & Geer, J. H. (2007). The sexual response. In J. T. Cacioppo, L. G. Tassinary, & G. G. Berntson (Eds.), Handbook of psychophysiology (3rd ed., pp. 245–266). New York: Cambridge University Press. CrossRef
  39. Kahneman, D. (2003). A perspective on judgment and choice: Mapping bounded rationality. American Psychologist, 58, 697–720. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.58.9.697. CrossRef
  40. Kalmus, E., & Beech, A. (2005). Forensic assessment of sexual interest: A review. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 10, 193–217. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2003.12.002. CrossRef
  41. Kensinger, E. A., & Corkin, S. (2003). Effect of negative emotional content on working memory and long-term memory. Emotion, 3, 378–393. doi:10.1037/1528-3542.3.4.378. CrossRef
  42. Koob, G. F., & Volkow, N. D. (2010). Neurocircuitry of addiction. Neuropsychopharmacology, 35, 217–238. doi:10.1038/npp.2009.110. CrossRef
  43. Kuss, D. J., & Griffiths, M. D. (2011). Internet sex addiction: A review of empirical research. Addiction Research & Theory, 116, 1–14. doi:10.3109/16066359.2011.588351.
  44. Laier, C., Schulte, F. P., & Brand, M. (2012). Pornographic picture processing interferes with working memory-performance. Journal of Sex Research,. doi:10.1080/00224499.2012.716873.
  45. Lang, P. J., Bradley, M. M., & Cuthbert, B. N. (2008). International affective picture system (IAPS): Affective ratings of pictures and instruction manual (Technical Report A-8). Gainesville, FL: University of Florida.
  46. Macapagal, K. R., Janssen, E., Fridberg, B. S., Finn, R., & Heiman, J. R. (2011). The effects of impulsivity, sexual arousability, and abstract intellectual ability on men’s and women’s Go/No-Go task performance. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 995–1006. doi:10.1007/s10508-010-9676-2. CrossRef
  47. Martin-Soelch, C., Leenders, K. L., Chevalley, A. F., Missimer, J., Künig, G., Magyar, S., et al. (2001). Reward mechanisms in the brain and their role in dependence: Evidence from neurophysiological and neuroimaging studies. Brain Research Reviews, 36, 139–149. doi:10.1016/S0165-0173(01)00089-3. CrossRef
  48. Most, S., Smith, S., Cooter, A., Levy, B., & Zald, D. (2007). The naked truth: Positive, arousing distractors impair rapid target perception. Cognition and Emotion, 21, 37–41. doi:10.1080/02699930600959340.
  49. Naqvi, N., Shiv, B., & Bechara, A. (2006). The role of emotion in decision making: A cognitive neuroscience perspective. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15, 260–264. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8721.2006.00448.x. CrossRef
  50. Paul, B. (2009). Predicting internet pornography use and arousal: The role of individual difference variables. Journal of Sex Research, 46, 344–357. doi:10.1080/00224490902754152. CrossRef
  51. Paul, T., Schiffer, B., Zwarg, T., Krüger, T. H. C., Karama, S., Schedlowski, M., et al. (2008). Brain response to visual sexual stimuli in heterosexual and homosexual males. Human Brain Mapping, 29, 726–735. doi:10.1002/hbm.20435. CrossRef
  52. Pawlikowski, M., Altstötter-Gleich, C., & Brand, M. (2013). Validation and psychometric properties of a German short version of Young’s Internet Addiction Test. Computers in Human Behavior, 29, 1212–1223. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2012.10.014. CrossRef
  53. Prause, N., Janssen, E., & Hetrick, W. P. (2008). Attention and emotional responses to sexual stimuli and their relationship to sexual desire. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 37, 934–949. doi:10.1007/s10508-007-9236-6. CrossRef
  54. Preston, S. D., Buchanan, T. W., Stansfield, R. B., & Bechara, A. (2007). Effects of anticipatory stress on decision making in a gambling task. Behavioral Neuroscience, 121, 257–263. doi:10.1037/0735-7044.121.2.257. CrossRef
  55. Redouté, J., Stoléru, S., Grégoire, M.-C., Costes, N., Cinotti, L., Lavenne, F., et al. (2000). Brain processing of visual sexual stimuli in human males. Human Brain Mapping, 11, 162–177. doi:10.1002/1097-0193(200011)11:3<162:AID-HBM30>3.0.CO;2-A. CrossRef
  56. Robinson, T. E., & Berridge, K. C. (2001). Incentive-sensitization and addiction. Addiction, 96, 103–114. doi:10.1080/09652140020016996. CrossRef
  57. Rolls, E. T. (2000). The orbitofrontal cortex and reward. Cerebral Cortex, 10, 284–294. doi:10.1093/cercor/10.3.284. CrossRef
  58. Sachs, B. D. (2007). A contextual definition of male sexual arousal. Hormones and Behavior, 51, 569–578. doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2007.03.011. CrossRef
  59. Schiebener, J., Zamarian, L., Delazer, M., & Brand, M. (2011). Executive functions, categorization of probabilities, and learning from feedback: What does really matter for decision making under explicit risk conditions? Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 33, 1025–1039. doi:10.1080/13803395.2011.595702. CrossRef
  60. Schimmack, U. (2005). Attentional interference effects of emotional pictures: Threat, negativity, or arousal? Emotion, 5, 55–66. doi:10.1037/1528-3542.5.1.55. CrossRef
  61. Shaughnessy, K., Byers, E. S., & Walsh, L. (2011). Online sexual activity experience of heterosexual students: Gender similarities and differences. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 419–427. doi:10.1007/s10508-010-9629-9. CrossRef
  62. Short, M. B., Black, L., Smith, A. H., Wetterneck, C. T., & Wells, D. E. (2012). A review of Internet pornography use research: Methodology and content from the past 10 years. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 15, 13–23. doi:10.1089/cyber.2010.0477. CrossRef
  63. Starcke, K., & Brand, M. (2012). Decision making under stress: A selective review. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 36, 1228–1248. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2012.02.003. CrossRef
  64. Stolèru, S., Grégoire, M. C., Gerard, D., Decety, J., Lafarge, E., Cinotti, L., et al. (1999). Neuroanatomical correlates of visually evoked sexual arousal in human males. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 28, 1–21. doi:10.1023/A:1018733420467. CrossRef
  65. Suhr, J. A., & Tsanadis, J. (2007). Affect and personality correlates of the Iowa Gambling Task. Personality and Individual Differences, 43, 27–36. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2006.11.004. CrossRef
  66. van den Bos, R., Harteveld, M., & Stoop, H. (2009). Stress and decision-making in humans: Performance is related to cortisol reactivity, albeit differently in men and women. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 34, 1449–1458. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2009.04.016. CrossRef
  67. Vuilleumier, P. (2005). How brains beware: Neural mechanisms of emotional attention. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9, 585–594. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2005.10.011. CrossRef
  68. Widyanto, L., & Griffiths, M. (2006). “Internet addiction”: A critical review. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 4, 31–51. doi:10.1007/s11469-006-9009-9. CrossRef
  69. Wise, R. A. (2002). Brain reward circuitry: Insights from unsensed incentives. Neuron, 36, 229–240. doi:10.1016/S0896-6273(02)00965-0. CrossRef
  70. Wright, L. W., & Adams, H. E. (1999). The effects of stimuli that vary in erotic content on cognitive processes. Journal of Sex Research, 36, 145–151. doi:10.1080/00224499909551979. CrossRef
  71. Young, K. S. (1998). Caught in the net: How to recognize the signs of Internet addiction—and a winning strategy for recovery. New York: Wiley.
  72. Young, K. S. (2008). Internet sex addiction: Risk factors, stages of development, and treatment. American Behavioral Scientist, 52, 21–37. doi:10.1177/0002764208321339. CrossRef
  73. Young, K. S., Pistner, M., O’Mara, J., & Buchanan, J. (1999). Cyber disorders: The mental health concern for the new millennium. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 2, 475–479. doi:10.1089/cpb.1999.2.475. CrossRef