Excitation Transfer Between Sexual Arousal and Other Emotions in a Community Sample

Eveline E. Schippers*, Wineke J. Smid, Stephanie Both, Johannes H. Smit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Excitation transfer, the transfer of arousal from one emotion to another, might be a mechanism in the development of unusual sexual interests. In this pilot study, we investigated whether we could induce excitation transfer between various emotions and sexual arousal in a laboratory setting with 30 male volunteers. We induced low-level sexual arousal in four different emotional states (aggression/dominance, endearment, fear, disgust) and a neutral state. Sexual arousal was measured using penile plethysmography and self-report. Although there was no mean group effect, possibly due to large interindividual variations, 60% of the subjects showed more sexual arousal in response to sexual stimulation in at least one of the emotional states than in the neutral state. Excitation transfer was most prominent with aggression/dominance and least prominent with disgust. Genital excitation transfer was strongly related to lower penile reactivity and to higher self-reported erotophilia. This pilot study paves the way for further research into excitation transfer as a mechanism to increase the salience of stimuli that otherwise would not have been sexual in nature.
Original languageEnglish
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Early online date2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2022

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