Does Moodiness Put You in the Mood?
A new Institute project explores the links between mood and sexuality
Take two elusive phenomena-our moods and our sexual interests, put them
under the same microscope, and what do you have?
Bancroft explains: "Conventional wisdom maintains that when an individual feels anxious or depressed, his or her sexual desire goes down. There are, however, a few pointers in the literature to suggest that for some, the opposite happens. In our survey we found that for a significant minority of about 15-25%, sexual interest and responsiveness goes up when they are in a nagative mood. This phenomenon has not previously received attention."
The researchers are also interested in whether an individual's propensity
for sexual excitation and inhibition, the theme of much of the Institute's
current research, helps to account for this paradoxical response. To some
extent they call predict that the relationship between negative moods
and sexual interest is more likely in men who are prone to high excitation
and low inhibition.
Erick Janssen, a research scientist at the Institute also working on the project, outlines some of the project's intricacies. "What we're really looking at is the relationship between different emotions, how different emotions interact with one another in different people. How, for example, can two seemingly incompatible emotions go together? And how does physical arousal relate to both cognitive and emotional processes?"
He further points out, "The topic fits neatly into the history of
research at the Institute. Kinsey himself continually sought to account
for individual variation within a population. This can be rare in experimental
research which often focuses on norms at the expense of variation."
All three researchers convey that the new project has broad practical and theoretical implications. "I wish I had started earlier on the topic," says Bancroft. "I could foresee working on it for the next fifteen years, if I was around that long."
Kinsey Today, Spring/Summer 2001, Vol. 5, No. 1
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