Interpersonal Exchange Model of Sexual Satisfaction Questionnaire

Interpersonal Exchange Model of Sexual Satisfaction Questionnaire‌‌‌

KELLI-AN LAWRANCE, Brock University

E. SANDRA BYERS,1 University of New Brunswick

JACQUELINE N. COHEN, Correctional Service of Canada

The Interpersonal Exchange Model of Sexual Satisfaction (IEMSS) Questionnaire assesses the components of the IEMSS, a conceptual framework for understanding sexual satisfaction within relationships. It addresses a number of methodological limitations associated with previous research on sexual satisfaction, namely use of single-item measures with unknown reliability and validity, inclusion in multi-item scales of items that are used as predictors of sexual satisfaction (e.g., sexual frequency), and failure to validate measures for sexual-minority individuals.

The IEMSS proposes that sexual satisfaction is influenced by (a) the balance of sexual rewards and sexual costs in the relationship, (b) how these rewards and costs com- pare to the expected levels of rewards and costs, (c) the perceived equality of rewards and costs between partners, and (d) the nonsexual aspects of the relationship (Lawrance & Byers, 1995). Sexual rewards are exchanges that people experience as pleasurable and gratifying; sexual costs are exchanges that demand effort or cause pain, anxiety, or other negative affect. Because sexual satisfaction is a function of the history of sexual exchanges, repeated assessments of these components provides a better indication of sexual satisfaction than does a single assessment (Byers & MacNeil, 2006; Lawrance & Byers 1995).

Description and Scoring

The IEMSS Questionnaire comprises three self-report measures that assess the components of the model as well as a checklist of sexual rewards and costs. The Global Measure of Sexual Satisfaction (GMSEX) assesses overall sexual satisfaction. Respondents rate their sex life on five 7-point dimensions: Good-Bad, Pleasant-Unpleasant, Positive- Negative, Satisfying-Unsatisfying, Valuable-Worthless. Ratings are summed such that possible scores range from 5 to 35, with higher scores indicating greater sexual satisfaction. The Global Measure of Relationship Satisfaction (GMREL) is identical to the GMSEX except that respondents rate their overall relationship satisfaction. Higher summed scores indicate greater relationship satisfaction. The Exchanges Questionnaire assesses respondents’ levels of sexual rewards and costs. Using 9-point scales, respondents indicate (a) their level of rewards, from Not at all Rewarding to Extremely Rewarding, (b) how their level of rewards compares to the level of rewards they expected to receive, from Much Less Rewarding in Comparison to Much More Rewarding in Comparison, and (c) how their level of rewards compares with the level of rewards their partner receives, from My Rewards Are Much Higher to My Partner’s Rewards Are Much Higher. Parallel items are used to assess respondents’ level of sexual costs, relative level of sexual costs, and perceived equality of sexual costs. The perceived equality items are coded such that the midpoint, which represents perfect equality, is assigned a score of 4 and the endpoints are assigned scores of 0. Thus higher scores represent greater equality between partners. Scores on the two equality scales (EQREW and EQCST) consitute one of the components of the IEMSS. The two other components (REW − CST and CLREW − CLCST) are calculated by subtracting the cost score from the reward score so that the possible range of scores is −8 to 8.

The 58-item Rewards/Costs Checklist (RCC) was developed based on open-ended questions about the sexual rewards and costs experienced by university students in mixed-sex relationships (Lawrance & Byers, 1992) and revised to include the sexual rewards and costs identified by lesbians and gay men (Cohen, Byers, & Walsh, 2008). Respondents are presented with the checklist twice (in counterbalanced order). They indicate whether each item is a reward in their sexual relationship and whether each item is a cost in their sexual relationship. The total number of sexual rewards and costs are determined by summing the number of rewards and costs endorsed. Responses to individual items indicate the types of rewards and costs experienced.

Response Mode and Timing

For each item, respondents mark a response on a Likert- type scale or checklist. Together, the GMSEX, GMREL, and Exchanges Questionnaire take 10 minutes to complete. The RCC takes another 10 minutes to complete.

Reliability

Studies using married or cohabiting individuals in mixed- sex relationships, married individuals in China, and sexual- minority women indicate that the GMSEX and GMREL have high internal consistency, ranging from .90 to .96 for the GMSEX and from .91 to .96 for GMREL (Cohen, 2008; Lawrance & Byers, 1992, 1995; Peck, Shaffer, & Williamson, 2004; Renaud, Byers, & Pan, 1997). Test- retest reliabilities also are high: .84 at 2 weeks, .78 at 3 months, and .73 at 18 months for GMSEX, and .81 at 2 weeks, .70 at 3 months, and .61 at 18 months for GMREL (Byers & MacNeil, 2006; Lawrance & Byers, 1995). As anticipated, for individuals in long-term relationships, test-retest reliabilities are moderate for REW, CST, CLREW, CLCST, REW − CST, and CLREW − CLCST, ranging from .43 to .67 at 3 months and from .25 to .56 at 18 months (Byers & MacNeil, 2006; Lawrance & Byers, 1995).

Validity

Evidence for the validity of the IEMSS Questionnaire is based on a sample of university students (Lawrance & Byers, 1992). Construct validity for GMSEX was sup- ported by a significant correlation of −.65 (p < .001) with scores on the Index of Sexual Satisfaction (ISS; Hudson, Harrison, & Crosscup, 1981). For GMREL, construct validity was supported by a significant correlation with the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (Spanier, 1976; r = .69, p < .001). Further, a higher level of rewards was negatively correlated with the ISS (r = −.66, p < .001) as well as a single-item measure of sexual satisfaction (r = .64, p < .001). The level of costs was significantly correlated with the ISS (r = .30, p < .01) and a single-item measure of sexual satisfaction (r = .70, p < .001); however, it was not significantly correlated with a single-item measure of sexual satisfaction (r = −.15) Recent researchers have found that higher scores on the GMSEX and/or GMREL are associated with each other as well as with multiple indicators of sexual and relation- ship functioning, including sexual communication, sexual esteem, sexual cognitions, sexual desire, sexual frequency, and communality (Cohen, 2008; MacNeil & Byers, 2009; Peck et al., 2004; Renaud & Byers, 2001). Finally, the items on the Exchanges Questionnaire and the components of the model are all significantly and uniquely correlated with GMSEX, and multiple assessments enhance the prediction of sexual satisfaction, providing strong support for the validity of the IEMSS (Byers & MacNeil, 2006; Lawrance & Byers, 1995). The IEMSS is tested by entering GMREL in the first step of a hierarchical regression analysis and the four exchange components in the second step.

Interpersonal Exchange Model of Sexual Satisfaction Questionnaire

GMSEX

Very Bad

D

D

D

D

D

D

Very Good

D

2.

Very Unpleasant

D

D

D

D

D

D

Very Pleasant

D

Overall, how would you describe your sexual relationship with your partner? 1.

3.

Very Negative

D

D

D

D

D

D

Very Positive

D

4.

Very Unsatisfying

D

D

D

D

D

D

Very Satisfying

D

5.

Worthless

D

D

D

D

D

D

Very Valuable

D

GMREL

Very Bad

D

D

D

D

D

D

Very Good

D

2.

Very Unpleasant

D

D

D

D

D

D

Very Pleasant

D

3.

Very Negative

D

D

D

D

D

D

Very Positive

D

4.

Very Unsatisfying

D

D

D

D

D

D

Very Satisfying

D

5.

Worthless

D

D

D

D

D

D

Very Valuable

D

In general, how would you describe your overall relationship with your partner? 1.

Exchanges Questionnaire

When people think about their sexual relationship with their partner, most can think of both rewards and costs about their sexual relationship. Rewards are things that are positive or pleasing: things they like about their sexual relationship. Costs are things that are negative or displeasing: things they don’t like about their sexual relationship.

  1. Think about the rewards that you have received in your sexual relationship with your partner within the past three months. How reward- ing is your sexual relationship with your partner?

    D

    D

    D

    D

    D

    D

    D

    Not at all Rewarding

    Extremely Rewarding

  2. Most people have a general expectation about how rewarding their sexual relationship “should be.” Compared to this general expectation, they may feel that their sexual relationship is more rewarding, less rewarding, or as rewarding as it “should be.”

    Based on your own expectation about how rewarding your sexual relationship with your partner “should be,” how does your level of rewards compare to that expectation?

    D

    D

    D

    D

    D

    D

    D

    Much Less

    Much More

    Rewarding in

    Rewarding in

    Comparison

    Comparison

  3. How does the level of rewards that you get from your sexual relationship with your partner compare to the level of rewards that your partner gets from the relationship?

    D

    D

    D

    D

    D

    D

    D

    My Rewards

    Partner’s

    Are Much

    Rewards Are

    Higher

    Much Higher

  4. Think about the costs that you have incurred in your sexual relationship with your partner within the past three months. How costly is your sexual relationship with your partner?

    D

    D

    D

    D

    D

    D

    D

    Not at all Costly

     Extremely Costly

  5. Most people have a general expectation about how costly their sexual relationship “should be.” Compared to this general expectation, they may feel that their sexual relationship is more costly, less costly, or as costly as it “should be.” Based on your own expectation about how costly your sexual relationship with your partner “should be,” how does your level of costs compare to that expectation?

    D

    D

    D

    D

    D

    D

    D

    Much Less

    Much More

    Costly in

    Costly in

    Comparison

    Comparison

  6. How does the level of costs that you incur in your sexual relationship with your partner compare to the level of costs that your partner gets from the relationship?

    D

    D

    D

    D

    D

    D

    D

    My Costs

    Partner’s

    Are Much

    Costs Are

    Higher

    Much Higher

Rewards/Costs Checklist (RCC)

Note to researcher: The presentation order of the Rewards Checklist and the Costs Checklist is counterbalanced across participants. The items are identical in both Checklists. The response options for the Rewards Checklist are Reward and Not a Reward. The response options for the Costs Checklist are Cost and Not a Cost.

Instructions. We will be asking you some more questions about your sexual relationship with your partner. Before answering them, it is important that you carefully read the following information.

When people think about their sexual relationship with their partner, most can give concrete examples of positive/pleasing things they like about their sexual relationship. These are rewards. Most people can also give concrete examples of negative/displeasing things they don’t like about their sexual relationship. These are costs.

For example, take oral sex.

Oral sex would be a reward if you feel that you engage in this sexual activity “just the right amount” and you enjoy it.

Oral sex would be a cost if you would like to engage in oral sex more often or less often than you do, or you do not enjoy it.

You will be asked to complete the same list twice. One time you will be asked to indicate whether each item in this list is generally a reward in your sexual relationship with your partner or not a reward. The other time you will be asked to indicate whether each item is a cost in your sexual relationship with your partner or not a cost.

Note that things can be both rewards and costs. For example, oral sex would be both a reward and a cost if you enjoy oral sex but want it more or less frequently. Further, some items may be neither rewards nor costs in your sexual relationship.

Rewards Checklist

This is a list of possible rewards and costs in your sexual relationship. Please indicate whether each item in this list is generally a reward

in your sexual relationship with your partner or not a reward.

In brief, things that are positive, pleasing, or “just right” are rewards.

    1. Level of affection you and your partner express during sexual activities

    2. Degree of emotional intimacy (feeling close, sharing feelings)

    3. Extent to which you and your partner communicate about sex

    4. Variety in sexual activities, locations, times

    5. Extent to which you and your partner use sex toys

    6. Sexual activities you and your partner engage in to arouse each other

    7. How often you experience orgasm (climax)

    8. How often your partner experiences orgasm (climax)

    9. Extent to which you and your partner engage in intimate activities (e.g., talking, cuddling) after sex

    10. Frequency of sexual activities

    11. How much privacy you and your partner have for sex

    12. Oral sex: extent to which your partner stimulates you

    13. Oral sex: extent to which you stimulate your partner

    14. Physical sensations from touching, caressing, hugging

    15. Feelings of physical discomfort or pain during/after sex

    16. How much fun you and your partner experience during sexual interactions

    17. Who initiates sexual activities

    18. Extent to which you feel stressed/relaxed during sexual activities

    19. Extent to which you and your partner express enjoyment about your sexual interactions

    20. Extent to which you and your partner communicate your sexual likes and dislikes to each other

    21. Ability/inability to conceive a child

    22. Extent to which you and your partner engage in role-playing or act out fantasies

    23. How you feel about yourself during/after engaging in sexual activities with your partner

    24. Extent to which your partner shows consideration for your wants/needs/feelings

    25. How your partner treats you (verbally and physically) when you have sex

    26. Having sex when you’re not in the mood

    27. Having sex when your partner is not in the mood

    28. Extent to which you let your guard down with your partner

    29. Extent to which your partner lets their guard down with you

    30. Method of protection (from sexually transmitted infections and/or pregnancy) used by you and your partner

    31. Extent to which you and your partner discuss and use protection (from sexually transmitted diseases and/or pregnancy)

    32. How comfortable you and your partner are with each other

    33. Extent to which/way in which your partner influences you to engage in sexual activity

    34. Extent to which you and your partner argue after engaging in sexual activity

    35. Extent to which you and your partner are/are not sexually exclusive (i.e., have sex only with each other)

    36. How much time you and your partner spend engaging in sexual activities

    37. How easy it is for you to have an orgasm (climax)

    38. How easy it is for your partner to have an orgasm (climax)

    39. Extent to which your sexual relationship with your partner reflects or breaks down stereotypical gender roles (the way women and men are expected to behave sexually)

    40. How your partner responds to your initiation of sexual activity

    41. Being naked in front of your partner

    42. Your partner being naked in front of you

    43. Extent to which your partner talks to other people about your sex life

    44. Extent to which you and your partner read/watch sexually explicit material (e.g., erotic stories, pornographic videos)

    45. Pleasing/trying to please your partner sexually

    46. Extent to which sexual interactions with your partner make you feel secure in the relationship

    47. Extent to which you get sexually aroused

    48. Amount of spontaneity in your sex life

    49. Extent of control you feel during/after sexual activity

    50. Extent to which you engage in sexual activities that you dislike but your partner enjoys

    51. Extent to which you engage in sexual activities that you enjoy but your partner dislikes

    52. Worry that you or your partner will get a sexually transmitted infection from each other

    53. How confident you feel in terms of your ability to please your partner sexually

    54. Extent to which you and your partner engage in anal sex/anal play

    55. Your partner’s ability to please you sexually

    56. Extent to which you think your partner is physically attracted to/sexually desires you

    57. Extent to which you are physically attracted to/sexually desire your partner

    58. Extent to which you and your partner are sexually compatible (i.e., well matched in terms of your sexual likes/dislikes)

Costs Checklist‌

This is a list of possible rewards and costs in your sexual relationship. Please indicate whether each item in this list is a cost in your sexual relationship with your partner or not a cost.

In brief, things that are negative, displeasing, or “too little or too much” are costs.

Note to researcher: The same 58 checklist items are repeated here.

References

Byers, E. S., & MacNeil, S. (2006). Further validation of the Interpersonal Exchange Model of Sexual Satisfaction. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 32, 53–69.

Cohen, J. N. (2008). Minority stress, resilience, and sexual functioning in sexual-minority women. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of New Brunswick.

Cohen, J. N., Byers, E. S., & Walsh, L. P. (2008). Factors influencing the sexual relationships of lesbians and gay men. International Journal of Sexual Health, 20, 162–246.

Hudson, W., Harrison, D., & Crosscup, P. (1981). A short-form scale to measure sexual discord in dyadic relationships. The Journal of Sex Research, 17, 157–174.

Lawrance, K., & Byers, E. S. (1992). Development of the Interpersonal Exchange Model of Sexual Satisfaction in long-term relationships. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 1, 123–128.

Lawrance, K., & Byers, E. S. (1995). Sexual satisfaction in long-term heterosexual relationships: The Interpersonal Exchange Model of Sexual Satisfaction. Personal Relationships, 2, 267–285.

MacNeil, S., & Byers, E. S. (2009). Role of sexual self-disclosure in the sexual satisfaction of long-term heterosexual couples. The Journal of Sex Research, 46, 1–12.

Peck, S. R., Shaffer, D. R., & Williamson, G. M. (2004). Sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction in dating couples: The contributions of relationship communality and favorability of sexual exchanges. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 16, 17–37.

Renaud, C., Byers, E. S., & Pan, S. (1997). Sexual and relationship satisfaction in mainland China. The Journal of Sex Research, 34, 339–410.

Renaud, C. A., & Byers, E. S. (2001). Positive and negative sexual cognitions: Subjective experience and relationships to sexual adjustment. The Journal of Sex Research, 38, 252–262.

Spanier, G. (1976). Measuring dyadic adjustment: New scales for assessing the quality of marriage and similar dyads. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 38, 15–28.