Summer Research Update
Understanding Compulsive and Risky Sexual Behavior
Sexual compulsivity (also known as 'sex addiction') has been associated with increased risk for HIV and STI transmission, yet little is known about its origins, or about the factors that impact an individual's ability to control it. A new research project is investigating the role of learning processes in the development of compulsive patterns and of alcohol as both a trigger for sexual compulsivity and a facilitator of sexual risk taking.
"Other studies have shown the link between sexual compulsivity and an increased risk for transmission of HIV/AIDS and other infections, yet little is known about compulsivity or the factors that affect an individual's ability to control it," says Dr. Heather Hoffmann, affiliated researcher at The Kinsey Institute and Professor of Psychology at Knox College. "This study will be the first to look at the interaction of sexual compulsivity, learning processes and alcohol consumption, and their impact on self-regulation." Dr. Hoffmann and Dr. Erick Janssen are principal investigators of the study.
The long-term goal of the research is to generate information for more effective intervention programs for sexual compulsion and risk-taking that would contribute to reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Privacy-Enhanced Online Human Subjects Data Collection
Since Alfred Kinsey began asking people about their sexual lives, researchers at The Kinsey Institute have been acutely aware of the need to protect sensitive information. With the turn to online surveys and data collection, the issues of cybersecurity are critical ones for sex researchers.
The Institute is proud to partner with Dr. Raquel Hill in the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University to test a model for a privacy-enhancing online survey system. Drs. Janssen and Sanders at The Kinsey Institute will collaborate with Dr.Hill to design a state-of-the-art system for protecting data and identities so that research can move from a one-time survey to more contributory and longitudinal outlook on sexual lives.
Funding for this study comes from the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research at Indiana University.
Possible Barriers to Correct Condom Use
Associate Scientist Erick Janssen, and Stephanie Sanders, associate director of The Kinsey Institute and professor in Gender Studies, are heading a two-year project addressing barriers heterosexual men may experience using male condoms.
Condoms have been shown to be effective in reducing the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases during sex when used consistently and correctly, yet many individuals and couples start intercourse without a condom or take off a condom and resume intercourse without it. Men who are concerned about losing erections during condom application or during sexual activity may be reluctant to use condoms. For other men, condoms may reduce sensation and stimulation, also influencing their willingness and ability to use condoms.
Sanders and Janssen decided to investigate this issue after finding that men who reported erectile problems also reported more unprotected sexual activity.
"Erection and arousal problems can interfere with correct and consistent condom use," Sanders said. "This project will help us better understand the mechanisims involved and possible interventions to address these problems."
New Podcasts Highlight KI Research
Listen to Dr. Erick Janssen discuss his research on the dual-control model of sexual arousal, and the effects of mood on sexual arousal.
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