Sexual Content-Induced Delay With Double-Entendre Words

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Seventy-three men and 72 women made lexical decisions to target words that followed sentences constructed so that the last word was a sexual double-entendre. Prime target relatedness, erotic versus nonerotic target, stimulus onset asynchrony, and participant's gender were varied in a between-subjects design. A second analysis that substituted sentence context for prime target relationship also was conducted. Data were collected on the emotionality and social acceptability of priming sentences and target words. Results revealed that, as with previous research on neutral words, prime target relatedness facilitated lexical decisions. Additionally, there was evidence of slowing in making lexical decisions when erotic material was presented or was part of a contextual bias. This delay was accentuated in women. A model that proposes that sexual words evoke a more complex processing sequence is presented. The model suggests that appraisal and checking or editing mechanisms, which are accentuated in women, help explain the phenomenon.

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