Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




William R. Dobson


On the basis of the MMPI R Factor Scale, 16 subjects were classified as high repressed and 14 as low repressed. Subjects were compared on patterns of bilateral differences in skin conductance as a function of three cognitive tasks intended to produce specific manipulations in the relative activation of the two cerebral hemispheres. Tasks 1 and 2 examined the effects of Verbal (left hemisphere) and Spatial (right hemisphere) tasks on amplitudes of electrodermal responses. Task 3 examined the effects of the presentation of double-entendre and asexual stimulus words (designed to produce an emotional stimulus) on the high and low repressed groups. Results showed no tasks were accompanied by significant bilateral differences in electrodermal activity although high repressed subjects showed a consistent tendency toward greater amplitudes in both hands to the sexual portion of the word task. These findings are in direct contradiction to research suggesting that hemisphere activation is task dependent, but support the theoretical postulation of ''hemisphericity" (the individual preference for the use of one hemisphere or the other). Subsequent to the tasks, each subject completed a Sexual Activity Questionnaire to determine categories of orgasmic or non-orgasmic. These data proved to be highly related to the personality variables of high and low repression. All subjects self-reported to be orgasmic (n = 3) scored in the low repressed group. Of 16 subjects self-reported to be non-orgasmic, 11 (69%) scored in the high repressed group. These findings argue strongly that sexual conflicts in high repressors leads to psychosomatic sexual dysfunctions as postulated by traditional psychoanalytic theory. Present findings were discussed in terms of the relationships between personality, repression, and sexual conflict and how these .variables influence electrodermal functioning. Implications for future research and theoretical complexities in the interpretation of the present results suggesting support for the "hemisphericity" postulation were also discussed.



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