Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)

Degree Level



Psychological Science


Ana J. Bridges

Committee Member

Jeffrey M. Lohr

Second Committee Member

Ellen W. Leen-Feldner


Romantic Relationships, Sexual Behavior, Sexual Dysfunction


Motivations for sex are numerous and varied (Browning, 2004; Meston & Buss, 2007). Using exploratory factor analytic methods, 21 theoretically distinct motivations have been proposed (Browning, 2004; Meston & Buss, 2007). A comprehensive number of motivations for sex has yet to be examined with confirmatory techniques. Theoretical work related to the treatment of sexual dysfunction has suggested that motivations focused on individual and partner pleasure would positively relate to sexual functioning (e.g., Leiblum & Rosen, 1992). Motivations for sex also appear to vary as a function of ethnocultural factors, as some motivations have only been uncovered utilizing qualitative methods with diverse samples (Browning, 2004) and some ethnic groups appear to differ in the average degree to which they endorse specific motivations (Browning; 2004; Cooper et al., 1998). The current study expanded on previous literature by examining four distinct aims: (1) to confirm a comprehensive number of motivations for sex, (2) to examine ethnic differences in motivations for sex among the four largest ethnic groups in the U.S., (3) to explore clinical correlates of motivations for sex, and (4) to examine ethnic differences in the relations between motivations for sex and clinical correlates. Confirmatory factor analyses largely supported 21 distinct motivations for sex [chi-square (3,794) = 11,208.27, p <.001, CFI = .87, SRMR = .052, RMSEA = .046, 90% CI = .045-.047, chi-square/df = 2.95]. Most factors (14) appeared invariant across ethnic groups. Two motivations (Role Fulfillment and Submission) varied in the average degree to which ethnic groups endorsed each motivation. Motivations emphasizing pleasure and partner pleasure positively correlated with sexual functioning. Six motivations varied across ethnic groups in their relations with clinical correlates. Overall, the study supports a comprehensive set of motivations for sex. Further, on average, ethnic groups appear to engage in sex for mostly similar reasons. Correlations between motivations for sex and clinical correlates largely support proposed mechanisms of sexual dysfunction treatment. These relations, however, appear to vary among ethnic groups, potentially suggesting the importance of relationship context in how motivations for sex relate to clinically-relevant variables.