Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Deborah Welsh

Committee Members

Deborah Welsh, Patricia Roberts, Gregory Stuart


Sexual concerns are one of the most common presenting issues in couples seeking therapy. Research suggests that targeting sexual difficulties and concerns within couples may enhance sexual satisfaction and thus, relationship satisfaction and outcomes among these dyads. This study examined sexual communication as a potential mediator of the relationship between insecure attachment and sexual satisfaction. Participants (N = 352) were undergraduates from a large southeastern university who were sexually active and involved in a sexual relationship (e.g., hooking up) or in an exclusive romantic relationship (e.g., dating, engaged). Participants completed an online survey measuring attachment style, sexual communication, and sexual satisfaction. We calculated bivariate correlations to investigate associations among study variables and utilized structural equation modeling for hypothesis testing, controlling for the effects of class year, gender identity, sexual orientation, and religiosity. Analyses revealed sexual communication fully mediated the relationship between anxious attachment and self and partner sexual satisfaction as well as the relationship between avoidant attachment and partner sexual satisfaction. Sexual communication only partially mediated the relationship between avoidant attachment and self sexual satisfaction, as the direct pathway remained significant. In sum, study findings indicate that sexual communication may be an important target for increasing sexual satisfaction for emerging adults with attachment anxiety. Conversely, while targeting sexual communication may increase sexual satisfaction derived from their partner’s sexual experiences for emerging adults with attachment avoidance, results suggest this may be insufficient for increasing the sexual satisfaction they derive from their own personal sexual experiences and sensations.

Available for download on Tuesday, May 15, 2029

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