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Past Research

World Sexual Health Day

World Sexual Health Day (WSHD) was introduced in 2010 in an effort to promote greater social awareness of sexual health throughout the world. Since 2010, more than 35 countries have participated organizing activities in schools, hospitals, libraries, universities, public squares, art halls, media, and more. Surprisingly, Canada was not one of the countries that participated in WSHD's initial years. However, in 2015, members of SFU's Close Relationship Lab decided to get Canada involved in celebrating World Sexual Health Day by organizing a series of informative and engaging talks by local experts about sexual health and justice related issues.

The 2015 event featured the following speakers and topics:

"What does the FDA approval of Addyi mean for women's sexual health?" Dr. Lori Brotto, R. Psych., Associate Professor in UBC's Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology

 "Men and their sexual health" Shannon Griffin, RN, MN, Sexual Health Clinician with Men's Health Initiative at Vancouver Coastal Health

  "Cultural aspects of women's sexual health in the global village" Dr. Dorothy Shaw, Vice President, Medical Affairs, BC Women's Hospital

Abstracts & Posters

McRae, L. D., & Cobb, R. J. (June, 2017). Is agreeing about sexual agreements in newlywed marriage associated to relationship satisfaction? Poster accepted for presentation at the annual convention of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), Toronto, ON.


Bowsfield, M. L., Millman, R. D., Pink, J. C., Logan, J. M., & Cobb, R. J. (2016, September). Body image and sexual satisfaction: The mediating role of sexual anxiety. Poster presented at the 2016 Canadian Sex Research Forum, Quebec City, Quebec.


Pink, J. C., Millman, R. D., & Cobb, R. J. (January, 2016). Attachment insecurity predicts less constructive sexual conflict communication in cohabiting couples. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), San Diego, CA.


Millman, R. D., Pink, J. C., & Cobb, R. J. (2015, November). To talk or not to talk? The role of communication during sexual activity. Poster presented in the Couples Research and Therapy Special Interest Group Poster Exhibition at the 49th annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Chicago, IL.


Millman, R. D., Pink, J. C., Logan, J. M., Bowsfield, M., & Cobb, R. J. (2015, October). Communicating in the bedroom: How verbal and nonverbal expression relate to sexual quality. In J. Huber (Chair), Sex and Behaviour. Symposium at the 42nd annual meeting of the Canadian Sex Research Forum, Kelowna, BC.


Bowsfield, M. L., Cobb, R. J., Millman, R. D., Pink, J. C., & Logan, J. M. (2015, October). Validation of the Body Image Questionnaire. Poster presented at the 2015 Canadian Sex Research Forum, Kelowna, BC.


Pink, J. C., Millman, R. D., Logan, J. M., Bowsfield, M. L., & Cobb, R. J. (October, 2015). “Our sex life isn’t great, but it’s not so bad”: Sexual satisfaction and dissatisfaction uniquely contribute to relationship quality. Poster presented at the 2015 Canadian Sex Research Forum, Kelowna, BC.


Bowsfield, M. L., Samra, J., & Cobb, R. J. (2014, June). Associations among sex, femininity and masculinity, and attitudes about the gendered division of household labour. Poster presented at the annual Canadian Psychological Association Convention, Vancouver, BC.   



Directed Studies and Honours Projects

"Longitudinal Associations Between Masturbation Frequency and Quality of Partnered Sexual Activity in Husbands and Wives"

Alexandra K. S. Zokol

Primary Supervisor: Dr. Rebecca J. Cobb

Secondary Supervisor: Dr. Alexander L. Chapman



I examined how masturbation frequency and quality of partnered sex (i.e. sexual satisfaction and sexual activity frequency) predicted one another over six months in couples (n = 177 husbands and n = 181 wives).  Regression analyses indicated that for husbands, sexual satisfaction negatively predicted masturbation frequency over time.  Further, sexual satisfaction mediated the negative association between sexual activity frequency and masturbation frequency for husbands, concurrently and over time.  For wives, sexual quality variables did not predict changes in masturbation frequency and masturbation frequency did not predict changes in sexual quality.  Thus, at least for husbands, masturbation appears to play a compensatory role, such that husbands masturbate more frequently as their sexual satisfaction (and frequency) declines.  For wives, masturbation and partnered sexual activity function independently.  Of importance, these results do not support the notion that masturbation leads to dissatisfaction or declines in frequency of partnered sex; however, frequent masturbation may indicate sexual dissatisfaction for husbands.

Keywords: masturbation; sexual activity; sexual satisfaction; longitudinal; couples



"Newlywed Couples’ Communication as Moderator of the Association Between Sexual and Marital Satisfaction"

Mathew R. Gendron

Claire deBruyn

  Supervisor: Dr. Rebecca J. Cobb



Good communication moderates the negative effects of sexual dissatisfaction on marital satisfaction cross-sectionally (Litzinger & Gordon, 2005).  However, this association has yet to be examined longitudinally or with observed versus self-reported communication quality.  We examined whether observed communication in support discussions moderated the association between sexual and marital satisfaction in 74 ethnically diverse newlywed couples who completed questionnaires assessing marital satisfaction (Quality of Marriage Index, Norton, 1983) and sexual satisfaction (single item) at three months of marriage (T1) and six months later (T2).  Couples also participated in two videotaped 7-minute discussions of a current non-relationship problem at T1.  Quality of their communication (i.e., positive, negative behavior) was rated using a global rating system adapted from the Social Support Interaction Coding System (Pasch & Bradbury, 1998).  Regression analyses indicated that T1 sexual satisfaction and communication did not independently predict changes in marital satisfaction over 6 months for husbands or wives.  However, there was an interaction such that wives’ positive communication during the support discussion buffered negative effects of husbands’ sexual dissatisfaction on changes in husbands’ marital satisfaction over six months (R-squared change = .042, Beta = -.205, p = .020).  In other words, the association between sexual dissatisfaction and declines in marital satisfaction over six months was weaker when wives demonstrated more positive communication such as offering helpful advice or suggestions about how to handle the problem, discussing strategies to manage anxiety or other negative emotions, or asking constructive questions.  These results provides support for the hypothesis that, at least for husbands, having wives who communicate effectively when husbands require support can compensate for sexual dissatisfaction in terms of changes in marital satisfaction.  This suggests that supportive discussions elicit feelings of intimacy, which can compensate for deficits in sexual intimacy, thereby bolstering overall marital quality longitudinally.