Article |

Cognitive Response to Erotic and Stressful Films

Mardi J. Horowitz, MD; Stephanie S. Becker, MA
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1973;29(1):81-84. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1973.04200010058010.
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In previous studies exposing persons to stressful films, uniformly unpleasant in content, we found a marked tendency toward intrusive and stimulus-repetitive thought. This study was designed to determine if pleasant but arousing films would produce similar effects. In a counterbalanced design, 29 subjects saw both pleasurable and displeasurable films on genital themes. Comparing the results with previous data on the effects of the same displeasurable film and a neutral contrast film, both arousing films were followed by higher levels of intrusive and stimulus-repetitive thought than followed the neutral film. Viewers of the pleasurable and displeasurable films differed significantly in affective responses. The results support the theory of a general tendency towards compulsive repetition of events that arouse strong emotions and ideas of whatever quality.


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