Sexual Arousal, Attention, Perceptions, and Sexual Narcissism: A Cognitive Conditional Process Model of Sexual Coercion

Roy, Carolyn
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University of Guelph

Previous research has suggested that as heterosexual males become sexually aroused, they are more likely to interpret potential sexual partners as interested in sexual activity and are subsequently more likely to use sexual coercion. There is also evidence that individuals higher in sexual narcissism are more likely to be sexually coercive. It is unclear, however, how sexual arousal, perceptions of partner interest, and sexual narcissism are related to one another and how this relationship may be similar or different for heterosexual females. Furthermore, cognitive research on attention and motivation supports the theory that increased state-motivation (e.g., hunger) biases our attention to cues that support our goals. The current research attempted to synthesize existing theory and propose a conditional process model of heterosexual males’ and females’ use of sexual coercion. Results partially supported our hypotheses. There was no evidence to support that physiological or self-reported sexual arousal predicted sexual coercion for heterosexual males or females. There was evidence to support that biased attention towards consent cues predicted males’, but not females’ use of sexual coercion. The effect was also conditional on higher levels of sexual narcissism. Perceptions of partner interest was predictive of sexual coercion for both males and females, but the effect was conditional on higher levels of sexual narcissism for females. These findings demonstrate the importance of replication studies and the use of multiple factors when predicting sexual coercion. Research and clinical implications are discussed.

sexual coercion, sexual narcissism, sexual arousal