Alcohol context and visceral arousal effects on women's risky sexual decision making




Dallmann, Destiny

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In the U.S., HIV and other sexually transmitted infections are increasingly affecting young women. Thus, it is important to examine women's risky sexual decision making. This study examined the background factors of sexual sensation seeking, sexual alcohol expectancies, the experimentally manipulated situational factors of visceral arousal (low, high), and alcohol setting (non-alcohol setting, alcohol setting), which were hypothesized to influence women's risky sexual decision making. Participants (N=102 women) completed a background questionnaire assessing sexual alcohol expectancies and sexual sensation seeking orientation. Then participants read and projected themselves into a written vignette of a hypothetical dating situation with a new partner, in which participants had to decide whether or not to have unprotected sex. The experimental factor of visceral arousal was manipulated via the content of the written vignette. The experimental factor of alcohol setting was manipulated via the room in which participants were randomly assigned to read the vignette, either in a plain laboratory setting or in a simulated bar room setting. Participants answered questions at the end of vignette which assessed the dependent variables of condom insistence and unprotected sex intentions. Alcohol setting and sexual sensation seeking interacted to influence women's condom insistence. For participants in the alcohol setting, greater sexual sensation seeking tendency was associated with less condom insistence. Among participants in the non-alcohol setting condition, women's sexual sensation seeking did not influence condom insistence. This finding suggests that the influence of individual-level factors on risk taking may be moderated by situational factors.


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