Attributions for Sexual Situations in Men with and Without Erectile Disorder: Evidence from a Sex-Specific Attributional Style Measure

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This study investigated the attributional styles of men with and without sexual dysfunction for both positive and negative sexual and general events using a sex-specific version of the Attributional Style Questionnaire (Sex-ASQ), and ascertained the preliminary psychometric properties of the measure. The Sex-ASQ was created by embedding 8 hypothetical sexual events (4 positive, 4 negative) among the original 12 events in the Attributional Style Questionnaire (ASQ; C. Peterson, A. Semmel, C. von Baeyer, L. Y. Abramson, G. I. Metalsky, & M. E. Seligman, 1982). The Sex-ASQ was completed by 21 men with a principal DSM-IV diagnosis of Male Erectile Disorder (MED) and 32 male control participants. The psychometrics of the Sex-ASQ were satisfactory, but with the positive sexual event scales found to be less stable and internally consistent than the negative sexual event scales. Reasons for modest reliability of the positive event scales are discussed in terms of the original ASQ. As expected, men with MED did not differ significantly from men without sexual dysfunction in their causal attributions for general events, indicating that both groups exhibited an optimistic attributional style in general. Also as predicted, men with MED made more internal and stable causal attributions for negative sexual events than men without sexual dysfunction, and also rated negative sexual events as more important. For positive sexual events, the 2 groups did not differ in attributional style, with both groups making more external/unstable/specific causal attributions than for positive general events. Differences between explanatory style for sexual versus nonsexual events found in both sexually functional and dysfunctional men lend support for explanatory style models that propose both cross-situational consistency and situational specificity.

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