Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


In two studies, an individual difference approach to understanding sexual media effects was pursued. In Study I, personality (e.g., intelligence, aggression) and individual difference (e.g., prior sexual experience) factors were assessed in a sample of undergraduate males. These males also indicated their preference for various forms of sexual media, including sexual stimuli with aggressive and nonaggressive content. As expected, individual differences were predictive of preferences for different sexual stimuli, with, for example, males lower in intelligence and higher in aggression preferring aggressive sexual stimuli. In Study II, similar personality constructs and individual differences, together with salivary testosterone (T), were assessed in a sample of undergraduate males. These males then viewed different types of sexual stimuli (e.g., aggressive vs. nonaggressive), rated their sexual arousal, completed scales assessing attitudes towards women, and interacted with a female confederate. Results were weaker than Study I, but three interactions between individual differences and type of sexual stimuli predicted sexual arousal and behaviour toward the female confederate. For example, males scoring lower on intelligence were more likely to attempt to interact sexually with the female confederate after viewing a sexually aggressive film than were males scoring higher on intelligence. Results are discussed in relation to theory and research suggesting that individual differences moderate the effects of sexual stimuli, and in relation to recent developmental, social, and personality theorists who view adults as cognitively active in choosing, creating, and responding to social environments.



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