Correlates and factor replication of the need for sexual intimacy scale (NSIS).

Author:Marelich, William D.
Position:Author abstract

When thinking of sexual intimacy, desires and motivations for sex are often first considered (e.g., Knox, Sturdivant, & Zusman, 2001; Motley & Reeder, 1995). Yet, sexual intimacy may be viewed as a broader concept beyond sexuality, incorporating factors that together form a broader sexual intimacy construct. Indeed, both theoretical and empirical research shows that sexual intimacy is a confluence of additional concepts. For example, motivations for sexual intimacy have been shown to include not only desires for sex, but also desires for partner compliance (Hoffman & Bolton, 1997), commitment/love (Carroll, Volk, & Hyde, 1985), power (Falbo & Peplau, 1980; Hill & Preston, 1996; Starratt, Popp, & Shakelford, 2008), affiliation (McAdams & Powers, 1981), and closeness (Meston & Buss, 2007). Given the continued elevated rates of newly diagnosed sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S. (approximately 19 million news cases per year, costing an estimated 17 billion dollars; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011) and continued prevalence of high risk sexual behaviors (e.g., Chandra, Mosher, Copen, & Sionean, 2011; Herbenick et al., 2010; Owen, Rhoades, Stanley, & Fincham, 2010), a valid and reliable measure for sexual intimacy needs is paramount for understanding underlying motivational drives and sexual awareness.

In an effort to more fully consider sexual intimacy motivations, Marelich and Lundquist (2008) developed the three factor Sexual Intimacy Scale (NSIS), focusing on three facets of sexual intimacy--sex, dominance, and affiliation. Theoretically, the NSIS is based on sexual intimacy needs taken from Murray (1938/2008). The needs of sex, affiliation, and dominance were chosen as conceptual anchors based on their definitional properties with sexual intimacy. Murray (1938/2008, p. 167) defines the need for sex as the "format[ion] and further[ing] of an erotic relationship. To have sexual intercourse." The second sexual intimacy aspect was affiliation, defined as the desire "to draw near and enjoyably co-operate or reciprocate with an allied [other] ... To please and win affection of a cathected [other]" (p. 174). Dominance was also chosen per its definition as the need to "to control one's human environment. To influence or direct the behaviour of [others] by suggestion, seduction, persuasion, or command" (p. 152). Beyond Murray, different combinations of these needs have been shown to be associated with motivations for intimacy, closeness and sexuality (e.g., Maslow, 1943; McAdams & Powers, 1981; Meston & Buss, 2007; Moss & Schwebel, 1993; Schultheiss, Dargel, & Rohde, 2003; Sternberg, 1986; Yost & Zurbriggen, 2006).

Marelich and Lundquist (2008) showed the NSIS subscales correlated well with various sexual health and intimacy related behaviors (e.g., number of sexual partners, condom use, deception regarding STIs, sexual communication). However, their assessment included only behavioral outcomes associated with sexual intimacy, neglecting broader established measures of sexual desires/motivations, affiliation, and dominance. The current paper with a new sample addresses this deficit by investigating associations of the NSIS with established scales reflecting its underlying constructs, and to replicate the NSIS factor structure.

For the current investigation, we include the Sexual Desire Inventory (SDI; Spector, Carey, & Steinberg, 1996) since it measures cognitive aspects of sexual desire. Sex drive was evaluated using the Sexual Attitudes and Feelings scale (SAF; Lippa, 2005), which assesses self-reported sex drive attitudes. Attitudes toward engagement in uncommitted sexual activities was evaluated with the Sociosexual Orientation Inventory (SOI; Simpson & Gangestad, 1991), and with the Casual Physical Acquaintance Scale (CPA; Johnson, Marelich, & Lundquist, 2007), assessing attitudes toward "friends with benefits" relationships.

The Sexual Awareness Questionnaire (SAQ; Snell, Fisher, & Miller, 1991) was also included, measuring aspects of sexual consciousness and motivation, including sexual perceptions of self (sexual consciousness) and other's perceptions (perceptions of one's sexuality; sex appeal), and sexual assertiveness. The Interpersonal Orientation Scale was utilized as well (IOS; Hill, 1987), assessing affiliative attitudes and behaviors (including emotional support and positive stimulation). We also include the Dominance subscale from the International Personality Item Pool (IPIP; Goldberg et al., 2006). The Love Attitudes Scale (LOS; Hendrick & Hendrick, 1986; Hendrick, Hendrick, & Dicke, 1998) was also evaluated, which includes romantic love (Eros), game playing love (Ludus), friendship love (Storge), possessive love (Mania), logical love (Pragma), and selfless love (Agape) love styles.

Overall, we expect the original factor structure of the NSIS to be confirmed (using confirmatory factor analysis) with good internal consistency reliability, including its second-order structure. In addition, the NSIS subscales will show associations with the measures noted above. Specifically, higher scores on the NSIS need for sex subscale will be associated with positive sexual attitudes, motivations, and behaviors (measured through the SOI, SAQ, CPA, SDI, and SAF), and will be less likely to exhibit an Eros love style. Those with higher scores on the NSIS need for dominance subscale will exhibit greater dominance as measured on the IPIP, greater SAQ sexual assertiveness, and will be more likely to show Ludus and Mania love styles. Higher scores on the NSIS need for affiliation subscale will be associated with lower scores on casual sexual attitudes and behaviors (i.e., SOI, CPA). Those higher in need for affiliation will also reflect higher scores on the IOS subscales addressing affiliative motivations, including emotional support and positive stimulation, and will also exhibit Eros, Pragma, and Agape love styles, but less likely to report a game-playing love style.



Participants were 422 students enrolled at a large Southern California University, recruited from introductory and upper division psychology courses. Participants were at least 18 years of age and reported at least one sexual intercourse partner in their lifetime. The mean number of lifetime sexual intercourse partners was 5.69, with a standard deviation of 13.17, and a median of 3. Overall, 57.8% of the sample reporting 1-3 sexual intercourse partners, 19.7% reporting 4-6 partners, 14% reporting 7-10 partners, and 8.5% reporting more than 10 partners. Participants were primarily female (65.4%) with ages ranging from 18-46 years (Mean = 20.71, SD = 3.75, median = 19). Of the participants in the sample, 40.8% identified themselves as White, 5.2% identified themselves as African American, 25.6% identified themselves as Latino, 14.7% identified themselves as Asian American, and 12.3% self-identified as Other/Mixed race.

The majority of participants reported at least casually dating someone at the time of the study (67.8%), with 8.3% reporting being engaged/married, and 22% not dating anyone. Although the latter percentage may seem high, it appears in line with other recently published accounts of dating status (e.g., Paik, 2010), and may reflect the slow growth of casual sex hookups and friends...

To continue reading