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    Feelings of Disgust and Disgust-Induced Avoidance Weaken following Induced Sexual Arousal in Women



    Summary: Sexual arousal interplays with disgust and disgust eliciting properties among women, and this relationship goes beyond subjective report by creating effect on the actual approach to disgusting stimuli. Hence, explaining how we still manage to engage in pleasurable sexual activity. The study also suggests that low sexual arousal might be a key feature in the maintenance of particular sexual dysfunctions.

    Source: PLOS ONE.

    Sex and disgust are basic, evolutionary instinctual functions that are often perceived as paradoxical. In general the stimuli which are involved in sexual encounters are strongly perceived to hold high disgust qualities. Saliva, sweat, semen and body odors are among the strongest elicitors of disgust. Making us question of how people succeed in having pleasurable sex at all.

    In a study by the University of Groningen, 90 healthy women participants were randomly allocated to one of three groups: the sexual arousal, the non-sexual positive arousal, or the neutral control group. Film tapes were used to elicit the relevant mood state. Participants engaged in 16 behavioural tasks, which involved sex related (e.g., lubricate the vibrator) and non-sex related (e.g., take a sip of juice with a large insect in the cup) stimuli, and the impact of sexual arousal on feelings of disgust and actual avoidance behaviour were measured.

    The sexual arousal group was found to rate the sex related stimuli as less disgusting compared to the other groups.

    A similar tendency was observed for the non-sex disgusting stimuli. A possible explanation could be that sexual engagement temporarily brings down the disgust eliciting properties of particular stimuli or that sexual engagement might reduce the hesitation to actually approach these stimuli.

    Published: PLOS ONE.

    Contact: Charmaine Borg, University of Groningen.

    Details: Image source Unsplash


    Hi, I’m Aarti, My Psychoanalytical approach towards my clients is to empower them to better their lives through improving their relationship with themselves. I believe shame and guilt is a common barrier to change. I aim to guide my clients through re authoring their narratives where shame, guilt, and other problems have less power and take up less space.

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