Development and psychometric evaluation of a measure of sexual desire

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Michael P. Carey


Sensor design

Subject Categories



The purpose of this investigation was to develop a self-report instrument to measure sexual desire, which refers to interest in behaving sexually. In the test construction phase, items were generated and pilot tested on 24 subjects. Based on these data, items were deleted, added, or modified. In Study One, The SDI-1 was administered to 197 females and 117 males. Frequency data indicated that responses to several of the items were skewed. Factor analytic data revealed that no generated factor solution yielded a good fit, and that the addition of the fifth factor was still significant for both genders. Interpretation of the factors led to suggestions about revisions for the SDI-1. It was hypothesized that sexual desire might consist of two related dimensions: dyadic sexual desire and solitary sexual desire. Items on the SDI-1 were modified to measure these two dimensions, and a revised questionnaire (the SDI-2) was created. In Study Two, the SDI-2 was administered to 249 females and 131 males, along with a measure of sexual activity, the sexual preoccupation subscale of the Sexuality Scale, Sexual Opinion Survey, Social Desirability Scale, and the vocabulary subscale of the Shipley Institute of Living Scale. Factor analysis supported the presence of the two dimensions (dyadic and solitary desire) along with two additional factors: Attraction and Frequency. The pattern of correlations among factors differed by gender; scores on the Solitary Desire subscale were uncorrelated with other dimensions for females, and significantly correlated with Attraction and Frequency for males. Internal consistency estimates ranged from.73 to.93. Other analyses indicated that Dyadic and Solitary Desire were positively correlated with sexual activity, Solitary Desire was positively correlated with erotophilia, and neither type of desire was correlated with social desirability or vocabulary. Relationship satisfaction was positively correlated with Dyadic Desire for females, and negatively correlated with Solitary Desire and Attraction for males. Significant gender differences were noted on Dyadic Desire, Solitary Desire, and Attraction, with males scoring significantly higher on all three dimensions. These findings provide preliminary evidence for concurrent and discriminant validity of the SDI-2. The implications of these findings are discussed.