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.
Three research papers that were published in the Tijdschrift voor Seksuologie between 1980 and 1990 were explored in terms of their relevance for current theory and research about female sexuality. In retrospect these 3 papers reflected, each in their own way, the beginning of a paradigm-shift in the area of female sexuality. For the most part, the drive model is abandoned and replaced by theory development about the intrinsic incentive-value of sexual stimuli for the activation of sexual response. In addition, female sexuality is increasingly studied from a biopsychosocial perspective, in which biological processes are no longer regarded solely as determinants of sexual responses, but are themselves influenced by cognitive-emotional, relational, and contextual factors.