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J Sex Med. 2015 Jun;12(6):1356-67. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12865. Epub 2015 Mar 23.

Hypersexuality and high sexual desire: exploring the structure of problematic sexuality.

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Center for Psychology, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal.
Department of Sociology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia.
DEGEI/GOVCOPP, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal.
Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia.



The concept of hypersexuality has been accompanied by fierce debates and conflicting conclusions about its nature. One of the central questions under the discussion is a potential overlap between hypersexuality and high sexual desire. With the relevant research in its early phase, the structure of hypersexuality remains largely unknown.


The aim of the present study was to systematically explore the overlap between problematic sexuality and high sexual desire.


A community online survey was carried out in Croatia in 2014. The data were first cluster analyzed (by gender) based on sexual desire, sexual activity, perceived lack of control over one's sexuality, and negative behavioral consequences. Participants in the meaningful clusters were then compared for psychosocial characteristics. To complement cluster analysis (CA), multigroup confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) of the same four constructs was carried out.


Indicators representing the proposed structure of hypersexuality were included: sexual desire, frequency of sexual activity, lack of control over one's sexuality, and negative behavioral outcomes. Psychosocial characteristics such as religiosity, attitudes toward pornography, and general psychopathology were also evaluated.


CA pointed to the existence of two meaningful clusters, one representing problematic sexuality, that is, lack of control over one's sexuality and negative outcomes (control/consequences cluster), and the other reflecting high sexual desire and frequent sexual activity (desire/activity cluster). Compared with the desire/activity cluster, individuals from the control/consequences cluster reported more psychopathology and were characterized by more traditional attitudes. Complementing the CA findings, CFA pointed to two distinct latent dimensions-problematic sexuality and high sexual desire/activity.


Our study supports the distinctiveness of hypersexuality and high sexual desire/activity, suggesting that problematic sexuality might be more associated with the perceived lack of personal control over sexuality and moralistic attitudes than with high levels of sexual desire and activity.


Dysregulated Sexuality; Hypersexuality; Problematic Sexuality; Sexual Desire

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