Attribution Patterns in Men With Sexual Problems: Analysis and Implications for Treatment

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Sexual and Relationship Therapy


ABSTRACTPrevious research indicates that individuals with sexual problems are more likely to attribute negative sexual experiences to themselves, in contrast with sexually functional individuals who attribute negative experiences to external factors such as their partner, circumstance, or relationship. Both men with erectile dysfunction (ED) and men with premature ejaculation (PE) show such patterns, as demonstrated through separate studies. In this analysis of 1249 men responding to an online survey posted on the Internet, we undertook a head-to-head comparison of men with ED and PE problems to determine whether their attribution patterns, though clearly different from functional men, were also different from one another. We also compared men with combined PE and ED to men with just PE to ascertain whether patterns of self-blame in these men were greater. Results indicate that men with PE accepted a higher level of self-blame than men with ED for negative sexual experiences. Men with both PE and ED exhibited slightly stronger attribution patterns of self-blame. These results point out similarities and differences in attribution styles across men with various sexual problems, indicate that men with sexual problems may be vulnerable to self-fulfilling prophecies regarding any negative sexual experience, and suggest focal points for therapeutic strategies in helping such men to overcome negative self-perceptions.

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