Utilizing qualitative and quantitative research methods to understand women's sexual self-views
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Employing both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, my dissertation project involved three phases aimed at examining women’s sexual selfviews. The primary aim of this research was to develop a comprehensive and multifaceted self-report measure of women’s sexual self-views. Phase 1 began the investigation of women’s sexual self-views through open-ended questions posed during qualitative interviews with a diverse sample of women varying among many demographic variables. The initial selection of items of the Women’s Sexual Self-Views (WSSV) scale were derived from the transcripts of Phase 1 interviews. Phase 2 focused on the development of a valid instrument intended to tap the construct of women’s sexual self-views and examined its association to potentially relevant variables, including sexual functioning status. Results from factor analyses highlighted discrete factors of women’s sexual self-views which were labeled as: Positive Sexual Self-Views (12 items), Negative Internal/Affective Sexual Self-Views (6 items), Negative External/ Behavioral Sexual Self-Views (5 items), Interpersonally-Relevant Sexual Self-Views (6 items), and Conservative Sexual Self-Views (5 items). The final version of the WSSV scale is a brief, 34-item measure of sexual self-views. Psychometric evaluation of the WSSV scale provided preliminary evidence of reliability and validity. The ability of the WSSV scale to differentiate between women with and without sexual concerns was demonstrated for the Positive Sexual Self-Views domain and the Negative Internal/ Affective Sexual Self-Views domain. That is, women with sexually difficulties had lower Positive Sexual Self-Views and higher Negative Internal/ Affective Sexual Self-Views as compared to sexually healthy controls. Phase 3 investigated the relationship between sexual self-views and memory for sexual information. Results provided initial evidence that participants performed better on sexually-relevant memory tasks which were consistent with their sexual self-views. I believe that the following study provides a deeper understanding of the cognitive factors involved in female sexual functioning and begins to provide a framework for understanding the role of memory in women’s sexuality.