Cognitive-Emotional Predictors of Sexual Functioning in Lesbians, Gays, and Heterosexuals

Abstract

Cognitive-emotional dimensions play a core role in predisposing and maintaining sexual difficulties. This study aimed to assess the role of personality traits, sexual beliefs, cognitive schemas, automatic thoughts and affective states in predicting sexual functioning in a Portuguese sample. A total of 226 lesbian women, 254 heterosexual women, 243 gay men, and 274 heterosexual men completed a web-survey. For each sample, hierarchical regression analyses were conducted, separately. Results indicated that positive affective states and fewer thoughts associated with failure and disengagement during sexual activity act as significant predictors for sexual functioning, in both lesbian and heterosexual women’s groups. Specific predictors of better sexual functioning in lesbian women were lower activation of schemas of undesirability and incompetence, and fewer thoughts associated with sexual abuse, body-image and sexual passivity were, whereas particular predictors of better sexual functioning for heterosexual women were erotic thoughts, lower activation of schemas of undesirability and difference/loneliness, and beliefs related to sexual desire as a sin. For men’s groups, the best predictor of sexual functioning was the presence of erotic thoughts. Particularly for gay men’s group, fewer failure anticipation thoughts were also a predictor of better sexual functioning. Overall, this study supports the core and predictive role of cognitive-emotional dimensions in sexual functioning for lesbian and heterosexual women, as for gay and heterosexual men.

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Acknowledgements

This study was funded by a doctoral scholarship from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (Reference: SFRH/BD/72919/2010).

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Correspondence to Maria Manuela Peixoto.

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Peixoto, M.M., Nobre, P.J. Cognitive-Emotional Predictors of Sexual Functioning in Lesbians, Gays, and Heterosexuals. Arch Sex Behav 49, 1823–1838 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-020-01732-9

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Keywords

  • Cognitive schemas
  • Gay men
  • Lesbians
  • Personality traits
  • Sexual functioning
  • Sexual orientation