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Arch Sex Behav. 2009 Aug;38(4):498-513. doi: 10.1007/s10508-008-9346-9. Epub 2008 Apr 23.

Indirect effects of acute alcohol intoxication on sexual risk-taking: The roles of subjective and physiological sexual arousal.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle, 98195-1525, USA.


Three experiments supported the idea that alcohol fosters sexual risk-taking in men and women, in part, through its effects on sexual arousal. In Experiment 1, increasing alcohol dosage (target blood alcohol levels of .00, .04, .08%) heightened men's and women's risk-taking intentions. Alcohol's effect was indirect via increased subjective sexual arousal; also, men exhibited greater risk-taking than women. In Experiment 2, an extended dosage range (target blood alcohol levels of .00, .06, .08, .10%) heightened men's risk-taking intentions. Alcohol's effect again was indirect via subjective arousal. Physiological sexual arousal, which was unaffected by alcohol, increased risk-taking via increased subjective arousal. In Experiment 3, alcohol increased women's risk-taking indirectly via subjective arousal, but alcohol-attenuated physiological arousal had no effect on risk-taking. Implications for alcohol myopia theory and prevention interventions are discussed.

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