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J Sex Med. 2006 Sep;3(5):853-77.

The Sexual Arousal and Desire Inventory (SADI): a multidimensional scale to assess subjective sexual arousal and desire.

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  • 1Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology, Department of Psychology, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.



Sexual arousal and desire are integral parts of the human sexual response that reflect physiological, emotional, and cognitive processes. Although subjective and physiological aspects of arousal and desire tend to be experienced concurrently, their differences become apparent in certain experimental and clinical populations in which one or more of these aspects are impaired. There are few subjective scales that assess sexual arousal and desire specifically in both men and women.


(i) To develop a multidimensional, descriptor-based Sexual Arousal and Desire Inventory (SADI) to assess subjective sexual arousal and desire in men and women; (ii) to evaluate convergent and divergent validity of the SADI; and (iii) to assess whether scores on the SADI would be altered when erotic fantasy or exposure to an erotic film was used to increase subjective arousal.


Adult men (N = 195) and women (N = 195) rated 54 descriptors as they applied to their normative experience of arousal and desire on a 5-point Likert scale. Another sample of men (N = 40) and women (N = 40) completed the SADI and other measures after viewing a 3-minute female-centered erotic film or engaging in a 3-minute period of erotic fantasy.


Principal components analyses derived factors that the scale descriptors loaded onto. These factors were categorized as subscales of the SADI, and gender differences in ratings and internal validity were analyzed statistically. Factors were considered subscales of the SADI, and mean ratings for each subscale were generated and related to the other scales used to assess convergent and divergent validity. These scales included the Feeling Scale, the Multiple Indicators of Subjective Sexual Arousal, the Sexual Desire Inventory, and the Attitudes Toward Erotica Questionnaire, the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI)-II, and the Beck Anxiety Inventory.


Descriptors loaded onto four factors that accounted for 41.3% of the variance. Analysis of descriptor loadings > or = 0.30 revealed an Evaluative factor, a Physiological factor, a Motivational factor, and a Negative/Aversive factor based on the meaning of the descriptors. Men's and women's subjective experiences of sexual desire and arousal on the Physiological and Motivational factors were not significantly different, although on the Evaluative and Negative factors, statistically significant differences were found between the genders. Mean scores on the Evaluative factor were higher for men than for women, whereas mean scores on the Negative factor were higher for women than for men. Internal consistency estimates of the SADI and its subscales confirmed strong reliability. Mean scores on the Evaluative, Motivational, and Physiological subscales of the SADI were significantly higher in the fantasy condition than in the erotic clip condition. Women had significantly higher mean scores than men on the Physiological subscale in the fantasy condition. Cronbach's alpha coefficients demonstrated excellent reliability of the SADI subscales. Evidence of convergent validity between the SADI subscales and other scales that measured the same constructs was strong. Divergent validity was also confirmed between the SADI subscales and the other scales that did not measure levels of sexual arousal, desire, or affect, such as the BDI-II.


The SADI is a valid and reliable research tool to evaluate both state and trait aspects of subjective sexual arousal and desire in men and women.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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