Sex and the dimension perspective

The dimension perspective holds that traits and characteristics are usually normally distributed throughout a population and therefore can be measured dimensionally. An individual may have high, average, or low extraversion, intelligence, and a host of other such traits. When individuals interact within environments that tax the limits of their traits, problems and inadequate responses, including sexual disorders or sexual problems, may result. The dimension perspective calls on the clinician to pay attention to these traits, the particular strengths and vulnerabilities of the individual, in formulating the cause of the disorder and in developing a treatment plan.


The dimension perspective is interested in measurement (see Table). As such, its logic is one of generating numbers and converting them to scores on scales for interpretation by the clinician. The dimension perspective counts and concludes in numbers rather than in categories. For example, the disease perspective is concerned with categories: does this person have hypertension or not? The dimension perspective prefers to ask the question: what are the person’s blood pressure readings? The response to the disease question is a categorical yes or no.

The answer to the dimension question is 130/80. Clearly each type of question and response is valid. But each serves a different purpose. Some specific information is lost in the categorization of an individual as, say, “hypertensive” or “normotensive.” The exact numerical values are combined into groups according to predetermined cutoff points. There are times when categorical groups facilitate communication—for example, between clinicians who are discussing a patient and between researchers in study design.

In the evaluation and treatment of sexual disorders, the dimension perspective measures three principal domains: personality, intelligence, and the sexual behaviors themselves.

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