Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Alessandra Rellini


There are at least two types of response to stimuli: an automatic response that happens before conscious thought (a Type 1 response) and a deliberative, intentional response (a Type 2 response). These responses are related to behavior associated with the affective loading of the stimulus presented. Prior research has shown, for example, that a Type 1 tendency to spend more time looking at fear-provoking stimuli is associated with higher levels of general anxiety, while a Type 2 tendency to spend more time looking away from happy faces is associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms. Some stimuli categories elicit mixed responses, indicated by discrepant Type 1 and Type 2 responses. For example, alcoholics in recovery tend to look toward alcohol-themed pictures in the first 200 milliseconds, then look away. This suggests that alcoholics in recovery have an automatic draw to alcohol that is overridden by the conscious application of a cognitive schema to avoid alcohol. Sexual response studies to date have measured Type 1 and Type 2 responses separately; however, no study has yet measured both types of response within the same person. This study was the first to examine both Type 1 and Type 2 responses to erotic stimuli within the same individual as a test of within-individual variation of attentional responses to sexual stimuli. Results do not support a connection between either attentional bias or conflicting Type 1 and Type 2 responses and sexual desire or distress. Implications of these non-findings are discussed in theoretical and methodological contexts, and future research is suggested.



Number of Pages

141 p.

Included in

Psychology Commons