Title

Do Difficulties Regulating Positive Emotions Contribute to Risky Sexual Behavior? A Path Analysis

Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

10-1-2019

Abstract

Within the U.S., risky sexual behavior (RSB) is the primary mode of HIV transmission. The role of emotion dysregulation in RSB has received growing attention over the past decade. However, this literature has been limited in its focus on emotion dysregulation stemming from negative (but not positive) emotions. The goal of the current study was to extend research by examining the relative and unique contributions of dimensions of difficulties regulating positive emotions (i.e., nonacceptance of positive emotions [Accept], difficulties controlling impulsive behaviors when experiencing positive emotions [Impulse], and difficulties engaging in goal-directed behaviors when experiencing positive emotions [Goals]) to RSB. Participants were 386 trauma-exposed individuals recruited from Amazon’s MTurk (M age = 35.85 years; 57.5% female; 76.4% White). At the bivariate level, dimensions of difficulties regulating positive emotions were significantly positively associated with sexual risk taking with uncommitted partners, impulsive sex behaviors, and intent to engage in risky sexual behaviors (with the exception of Goals to sexual risk taking with uncommitted partners), and significantly negatively associated with risky sex acts. Regarding the unique contributions of difficulties regulating positive emotions to RSB, (1) Accept was significantly positively associated with impulsive sexual behaviors and intent to engage in risky sexual behaviors; (2) Impulse was significantly positively associated with risky anal sex acts; and (3) Goals was significantly negatively associated with risky anal sex acts. Findings suggest the potential utility of targeting difficulties regulating positive emotions in treatments aimed at reducing RSB.

Publication Title

Archives of Sexual Behavior

Volume

48

Issue

7

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