Personality and psychosexual correlates of sexual and emotional responses to rape: a pupillometric study with community men.
Carvalho, J1; Gonçalves, D2; Mogo, D2; Gaspar, T2; Rosa, P.J2
1: , Portugal; 2: Escola de Psicologia e Ciências da Vida, Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias, Lisboa, Portugal
Objective(s): Past research on the psychophysiological markers underpinning the processing of sexual violence has shown that non-criminal samples of men (i.e., community men) present increased genital responses to raping scenes. The aim of the present study was to expand upon previous literature, by assessing the personality and psychosexual correlates of the sexual and emotional responses to a raping scene. Findings will provide evidence on the psychological mechanisms behind the processing of sexual violence in community men.
Material and Method(s): Thirty-six men were exposed to a raping scene. The emotional activation to the scene was measured by self-report and psychophysiological means (i.e., pupil diameter, using a Tobii T60 eye tracker). Participants further reported on the levels of subjective sexual arousal to the film clip, and have completed a set of self-report questionnaires aimed at measuring personality and psychopathic traits, raping myths, and sexual self-schemas; these measures were tested as correlates of the sexual and emotional responses to the raping scene.
Result(s): Findings showed that larger pupil dilation to the raping scene was significantly associated with the personality traits of openness and (less) conscientiousness, as well as with the psychopathic trait of impulsiveness. In the same vein, increased subjective sexual arousal to the raping scene correlated with a manipulative and direct/powerful style (a psychopathic trait and a sexual self-schema, respectively). Additionally, raping myths and extraversion were associated with the endorsement of more positive emotions during the exposure to the raping scene. The manipulative and extraversion traits were further related to the endorsement of less negative emotions, while agreeableness was associated with more negative emotions to the film clip.
Conclusion(s): It is widely recognized that non-criminal samples of men present increased genital responses to raping scenes; this is regarded as a natural/non-pathological phenomenon. However, it is worth noting that some psychological markers, including the current significant psychological correlates of the emotional responses to a raping scene, were shown to characterize convicted sexual offenders as well as community men reporting sexual aggression against women. Accordingly, the current findings add to the literature by suggesting that a set of psychological markers (captured by the constructs of extraversion, impulsiveness, powerful sexual self-schemas, etc.) may increase the likelihood of male sexual offending behavior, through its influence on the emotional appraisal of sexual violence.
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