The role of associative learning in sexual arousal

  • Auteur(s):
    Mirte Brom, Stephanie Both
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It is widely accepted that associative learning processes, such as classical conditioning, may contribute to the aetiology of both adaptive and maladaptive human behaviours, including sexual behaviours. Despite the hypothesized importance of basic learning processes in sexual behaviour, research on classical conditioning of the sexual response in humans is scarce. In the present paper a review is given of experimental studies on the role of classical conditioning in sexual responses. The present paper serves to highlight the major empirical findings and to renew the insight in how stimuli may acquire sexually arousing value, and how basic learning principles may contribute to the development and maintenance of (maladaptive) sexual responses and behaviours. Moreover, implications for clinical practice are discussed, and finally, suggestions for future directions in human research are given.

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