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Associative Learning and Conditioning TheoryHuman and Non-Human Applications$
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Todd R. Schachtman and Steve S. Reilly

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199735969

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199735969.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 21 January 2022

Hot and Bothered

Hot and Bothered

Classical Conditioning of Sexual Incentives in Humans

(p.532) Chapter 23 Hot and Bothered
Associative Learning and Conditioning Theory

Heather Hoffmann

Oxford University Press

Cross-cultural and individual variation in erotic taste indicate that what we find sexually attractive depends on experience. Partner and other environmental cues can acquire sexually arousing (or inhibiting) properties through a variety of different types of learning processes, including imprinting, mere exposure, social learning, verbal relational learning, and operant conditioning. Most laboratory research on sexual learning, however, has employed classical conditioning procedures. Numerous studies demonstrate the impact of such conditioning on a wide range of sexual behaviors in non-humans, yet relatively few studies have shown such effects in humans. The chapter reviews the experimental research on classical conditioning of sexual arousal in humans, highlighting newer studies that use women participants and more diverse paradigms. Individual differences in conditionability and a distinction between signal versus evaluative learning are also considered. Such research has the potential to contribute to the literature on (human) learning theory as well as to enhance learning-based therapies used to alter problematic sexual responding, for example, in the case of sexual risk taking and/or sexual compulsivity.

Keywords:   classical conditioning, sexual arousal, human

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