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Mood, Arousal, and Sexual Risk-Taking


Sexual risk taking contributes directly to high rates of sexually transmitted disease and the continued spread of HIV infection. Despite many years of research, the mechanisms that lead to risk-taking behavior are still poorly understood. Specifically, prior research has largely assumed that sexual decision-making depends on rational thought processes and has not adequately addressed the role that emotional state plays in influencing behavior.


This project will conduct systematic research on various types of positive or negative emotional state and sexual risk taking. An additional objective of the research program is the validation of a self-report measure (assessing the effects of emotional state on constructs related to sexual behavior) that could be used to identify and target relevant populations in future prevention and intervention programs.

Four separate studies will be conducted. Those studies will occur following completion of a general questionnaire by 2,000 respondents to screen individuals for possible participation in the project. Individuals who report an increase or decrease in sexual interest when happy, sad or anxious may be asked to participate. The lab studies involve exposure to mood-inducing film clips and response to questionnaires. Two studies also include physiological measurement of sexual arousal.


Erick Janssen, Ph.D. and John Bancroft, M.D.
Research Associates: Sarah Hahn, Jordan Rullo, Valarie Taulman, Karen Hull, Sue Jones, Ben Barone, Chris Cole, Chris Echterling.

FUNDING: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)


Public health relevance
Hear Dr. Erick Janssen discuss research on mood and sexual arousal ("KI Presents" podcast).


Sexual Risk-taking Project

Mood and Sexuality

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