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Arch Sex Behav. 2012 Apr;41(2):391-400. doi: 10.1007/s10508-011-9792-7. Epub 2011 Jul 28.

Non-erotic cognitive distractions during sexual activity in sexual minority and heterosexual young adults.

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Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Central Florida, 4000 Central Florida Blvd., Orlando, FL 32816-1390, USA.


The present study examined 100 lesbian and gay college students and 100 heterosexual students to determine whether group differences exist in frequency of a range of non-erotic cognitive distractions during sexual activity. Non-erotic cognitive distraction is a descriptive term for both self-evaluative cognitions related to physical performance and body image concerns, as well as additional cognitive distractions (e.g., contracting an STI or emotional concerns) during sexual activity. Participants were matched on gender (96 males and 104 females), age, and ethnicity, and completed questionnaires assessing frequency of non-erotic cognitive distractions during sexual activity, as well as measures of additional variables (trait and body image anxiety, attitudes toward sexual minorities, self-esteem, and religiosity). Results indicated that sexual minorities experienced significantly more cognitive distractions related to body image, physical performance, and STIs during sexual activity than heterosexuals. Regarding gender, men reported more distractions related to STIs than women. Interaction effects were observed between sexual orientation and gender for body image-, disease-, and external/emotional-based distractions. Implications of these findings are discussed.

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