There is no doubt that the execution of sexual acts can be reinforcing and rewarding. Likewise, neutral stimuli may become sexual incentives through classical conditioning. We have seen considerable evidence in favor of this notion. Habituation to sexual incentives may be important in non-human mammals, but in humans it seems more reasonable to talk about extinction or negative alliesthe-sia when response intensity is reduced because of repeated exposure to a constant stimulus. Responses to sexual incentives may also be enhanced by sensitization. Most of human, in contrast to non-human, sexual behaviors are acquired by social learning or formal instruction. The main consequence of all this is that human sexual behaviors can be molded by society and individual experience to an extent far superior to that seen in any other mammal. This fact has paramount importance for any analysis of dysfunctional sexual behaviors. I am completely convinced that the enormous moldability of human sexual behaviors by learning is the reason why sexual dysfunctions are surprisingly common in the human and utterly rare among non-human animals.
We have also seen that sexual activity can produce positive affect. Experimental data on this issue stem from non-human studies, but there is no reason to believe that humans do not experience positive affect when engaging in sexual behaviors. It is not extravagant to suggest that sexual incentives are stimuli predicting the potential obtention of sexual reward. Accordingly, sexual reward is the fundamental process directly or indirectly determining all sexual behaviors.
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