The Psychology of Everyday Life:Love, Marriage, and the Baby Carriage


What role does conditioning play in sexual response?

In associative or classical conditioning, people learn to respond to a situation in a particular way because they associate that situation with something that elicits the same response. For example, you might feel disgust at the thought of eating chicken if you got sick one time after eating rotten chicken. Conditioning plays a very important role in sexual response for both men and women. Expectations of failure, of discomfort, or of lack of response can dampen sexual arousal. Likewise positive expectations of pleasure and excitement can heighten sexual response. That is why classical conditioning techniques are incorporated into sex therapy. Sex therapists work to break the association between sexual activity and stress, performance anxiety or discomfort. They aim to replace such negative associations with positive associations of pleasure, comfort, and intimacy.


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