Attitudes toward sex, arousal, and the retention of contraceptive information

Goldfarb, L.; Gerrard, M.; Gibbons, F.X.; Plante, T.

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 55(4): 634-641


ISSN/ISBN: 0022-3514
PMID: 3193351
DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.55.4.634
Document Number: 366932
The effect of positive or negative sexual orientation and degree of arousal during learning on retention of contraceptive content was assessed using pre-testing and control subjects. 72 female subjects were classified on the basis of a Sexual Experience Survey and the Sexual Opinion Survey as erotophilic or erotophobics. To control for the effect prior knowledge, pretests on contraceptive knowledge and the anatomy of the skeletal system were administered. Physiological arousal was measured by skin resistance. Subjects viewed 5-minute slide and tape presentations on conception and contraception and on the skeletal system. Initially, erotophilic women, and those classified as effective contraceptors, performed better on tests of contraceptive knowledge, but not on knowledge of the skeletal system. After adjusting for pretest scores, there was no difference in posttest scores on these topics. Initial follow-up scores 4-6 weeks later showed no differences, although adjusted scores were higher for erotophobic women. There were no physiological differences during the pretest, but as predicted, the erotophobic women were significantly more aroused during the birth control presentation. The adjusted birth control follow-up test scores were positively correlated with arousal. Thus, the hypothesis that erotophobic women have difficulty learning sexually explicit material on contraception was not supported.

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