The relationship between cognitive schemas activated in sexual context and early maladaptive schemas among married women of childbearing age

Alimoradi, Z., Zarabadipour, S., Arrato, N.A., Griffiths, M.D. ORCID: 0000-0001-8880-6524, Andersen, B.L. and Bahrami, N., 2022. The relationship between cognitive schemas activated in sexual context and early maladaptive schemas among married women of childbearing age. BMC Psychology, 10: 131. ISSN 2050-7283


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Background: Healthy sex can be affected by cognitive schemas activated in the sexual context (CSASCs) and early maladaptive schemas (EMSs). Cognitive schemas are the nuclear structure of the cognitive system which facilitate the interaction between individuals and their environments. CSASCs are emotional and behavioral responses in the sexual context. EMSs are extremely stable, enduring and are developed throughout the life of the individual, beginning in childhood. The present study investigated the relationship between CSASCs and EMSs among married women of childbearing age.

Methods: In a cross-sectional study, 260 married women of childbearing age participated. Using two-stage sampling , ten comprehensive urban health centers were first randomly selected and then 26 individuals from each center were invited to participate. Data collection included demographic variables, the Young Schema Questionnaire-Short Form (YSQ-SF) with 15 EMSs (emotional deprivation, abandonment, mistrust/abuse, social alienation, defectiveness, incompetence, dependency, vulnerability to harm, enmeshment, subjugation of needs, self-sacrifice, emotional inhibition , unrelenting standards, entitlement, and insufficient self-control), and the Cognitive Schema Activation in Sexual Context Questionnaires (CSASCQ) with five subscales (undesirability/rejection, incompetence, self-depreciation, difference/loneliness, and helplessness). Data analysis was performed using a uni-variable and multi-variable linear regression model with a stepwise method at a significance level of 0.05.

Results: The mean age of the participants was 32.48 years and the average duration of their marriage was 10.34 years. The average score of early maladaptive schemas on the YSQ-SF was 151.5 (out of 450). Higher scores indicate more severe maladaptive schemas, although the total score has no defined cutoff point. Scores greater than 15 on each subscale constitute the internalization of that particular maladaptive schema. The highest average subscale scores were the schemas of self-sacrifice and unrelenting standards (M = 16.12, 15.90, respectively), indicating that these two schemas play important roles in the cognition of the participants. The mean score on the CSASCQ was 34.60 (SD ± 12.59; range: 25-125), with the highest mean reported on the loneliness subscale. Hypoactive sexual desire was the most common unpleasant sexual problem (6.9%) and disillusion was the most dominant feeling experienced by participants (33.3%). The results of the multivariable model showed that the following were significant predictors of the CSASC: three subscales of EMS (emotional deprivation [β = 0.28], social isolation [β = 0.31], and emotional inhibition [β = 0.14]) and two demographic variables (job [β = 0.11] and consanguineous marriage [β = 0.20]). In total, the multi-variable model explained 92% of variance of CSASCs.

Conclusions: The present study found a significant and meaningful association between EMSs and CSASCs adjusting for the effect of socio-demographic characteristics. The findings indicate that the study of schemas and schema therapy should be considered in both premarital and marital counseling.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: BMC Psychology
Creators: Alimoradi, Z., Zarabadipour, S., Arrato, N.A., Griffiths, M.D., Andersen, B.L. and Bahrami, N.
Publisher: BioMed Central
Date: 23 May 2022
Volume: 10
ISSN: 2050-7283
Rights: © the author(s) 2022. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 24 May 2022 10:05
Last Modified: 24 May 2022 10:05

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