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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 Hoffman, one of the study's principal investigators. "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."

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.

Read more on the Compulsivity and Risky Sexual Behavior Study:

Researchers study risk-taking in sex addicts. IU Press Release, November 2010.


Photo of research project staff

Principal Investigators: Erick Janssen, Ph.D., The Kinsey Institute, and Heather Hoffmann, Ph.D, Knox College.

Research Associates: David Goodrich, M.A. and Molly Wilson, B.A.

At right: Dr. Erick Janssen, Dr. Heather Hoffmann, and Research Assistant Molly Wilson.


National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)


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