Alcohol, sexual arousal, and the transfer of excitation

Dennis McCarty, William Diamond, Michael Kaye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Investigations of the alcohol-related disinhibition of responses to deviant sexual stimuli suggest that the pharmacological actions of ethanol have little influence on the disinhibition process. The mere belief that alcohol is consumed is sufficient to induce increased sexual arousal. Studies with conventional stimuli, however, suggest that interactions occur between the pharmacological presence of ethanol and the psychological expectations of its presence. The present article examines the contribution of pharmacological, cognitive, and environmental variables to perceived sexual arousal. Pictures that elicited either a low or moderate level of self-reported sexual arousal were viewed and evaluated by 64 men and 64 women after completing their drinks. The evaluations and arousal measures suggested significant Instruction by Content by Arousal interactions. The strongest perceptions of arousal occurred among Ss who did not know they were drinking alcohol. When Ss were unaware of the alcohol intoxication, the pharmacological excitation induced by alcohol transferred to the perception and evaluation of the slides. (33 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)977-988
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1982
Externally publishedYes


  • alcohol consumption &
  • cognitive &
  • environmental variables, attribution of heightened sexual arousal, 18-30 yr olds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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