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Nicole DiLella, Gina Magyar-Russell, Ph.D.

Personality and Sex: Are Certain Traits Predictors of Erotophobia-Erotophilia?

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Individual differences regarding attitudes toward sex are a complex, yet fascinating, topic for exploration. The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship among personality traits, demographic variables, and level of erotophobia-erotophilia. Fisher, Byrne, White, and Kelly (1988), define erotophobia as “considering sexual activity relatively aversive and seeking to avoid it.” In contrast, erotophilia is defined as “finding sex pleasurable and therefore seeking out sexual experience” (p. 137). Specifically, the personality traits of neuroticism and openness as predictors of the erotophobia-erotophilia continuum are examined. Whether gender moderates the association between neuroticism and erotophobia-erotophilia and openness and erotophobia-erotophilia is also investigated. Participants included 693 adults recruited through convenience sampling. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 70 years (M=40.93, SD=14.68) and males represented a smaller portion of the sample (n=227, 33%). Based on the findings from existing literature, it was hypothesized that neuroticism would predict erotophobia-erotophilia better than age, gender, and openness. Results of an independent samples t-test indicated that a significant difference existed on erotophobia-erotophilia by gender (t (639)= 7.79, p<.001), with men (M=42.83)  reporting greater erotophilia then women (M=36.95) and women (M=50.24) reporting greater erotophobia than men (M = 42.10; t (639)= 7.79, p<.001). Hierarchical multiple regression analyses indicated that neuroticism (ΔR2= .015, p < .001) adds unique variance in the prediction of erotophobia after age, gender, and openness are controlled. Additionally, the interaction between neuroticism and gender (ΔR2= .015, p<.05) explained significant additional variance in the prediction of erotophobia. The overall findings of this study contribute to the existing body of literature by confirming a link between personality factors and attitudes toward sex. Clinical implications for working with personality and gender differences within the context of couples therapy will be considered.

Keywords: neuroticism, openness, erotophobia-erotophilia, age, gender, ethnicity

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