Excitation Transfer Between Sexual Arousal and Other Emotions: Study Protocol

Authors Eveline Schippers, Wineke Smid, Larissa Hoogsteder, Vivienne de Vogel
Published in International Journal of Psychiatry Research
Publication date 2023
Research groups Working with Mandated Clients
Type Article


Background: Sexual deviance is regarded as an important risk factor for sexual offending. However, little is known about the development of deviant sexual interests. The transfer of arousal between emotions, i.e., excitation transfer, could attribute sexual salience to stimuli that would otherwise not be sexual in nature. As such, excitation transfer could contribute to the very beginning of unusual or deviant sexual interests. The current protocol proposes a study to investigate to what extent excitation transfer occurs, i.e., to what extent genital and subjective sexual arousal to sexual stimuli is higher in an emotional state than in a neutral state. Following a prior pilot study, several adjustments were made to the study protocol, including a stronger emotional manipulation by using 360-degree film clips and the inclusion of a larger and more sexually diverse sample. Methods: We will recruit 50 adult male volunteers with diverse sexual interests. We will induce sexual arousal in four different emotional states (aggression/dominance, endearment, fear, disgust) and a neutral state. Sexual arousal will be measured genitally using penile plethysmography and subjectively via self-report. Using paired samples t-tests, sexual arousal in the emotional states will be compared with sexual arousal in the neutral state. Discussion: We aim to show that arousal in response to emotional stimuli that are initially nonsexual in nature, can enhance sexual arousal. These findings have potentially important implications for the development of unusual and/or deviant sexual interests and possibly for the treatment of such sexual deviant interests in people who have committed sexual offenses.

On this publication contributed

Language English
Published in International Journal of Psychiatry Research
Year and volume 2023 1
Key words emotional arousal, excitation transfer, sexual arousal, virtual reality (VR)
Digital Object Identifier 10.33425/2641-4317.1157
Page range 1-7