Sex Guilt and Contraceptive Knowledge: Interference or Justification?

Deborah J. Wiebe, Paula G. Williams, Debra Quackenbush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Two hypotheses regarding the negative relationship between sex guilt and contraceptive knowledge were tested. The interference hypothesis argues that sex guilt induces strong negative emotions in response to sexual stimuli, which interfere with learning. The justification hypothesis argues that high guilt persons selectively attend to negative information about contraception to justify their sexual attitudes and behaviors. In the present study, high guilt men and women responded to an erotic stimulation manipulation with larger increases in negative affect than did low guilt subjects. After viewing a presentation on contraception, however, high and low guilt subjects displayed equal levels of negative affect and equal abilities to learn the information. Furthermore, high guilt subjects did not display biased processing of the information compared to low guilt subjects. Theoretical and empirical implications of these data are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)332-350
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Psychology(all)


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