Empathy and sexual impulsiveness among medical students who admit to sexting partners’ intimate images


  • Tomaz Eugênio de Abreu Silva Sexual Disorders Outpatient Clinic (ABSex), Department of Neurosciences, ABC Medical School, Santo André, São Paulo
  • Renata de Godoy Pereira Sexual Disorders Outpatient Clinic (ABSex), Department of Neurosciences, ABC Medical School, Santo André, São Paulo
  • Danilo Antonio Baltieri Sexual Disorders Outpatient Clinic (ABSex), Department of Neurosciences, ABC Medical School, Santo André, São Paulo




Sexting, University Students, Empathy


Introduction: Sexting behaviors among medical students have scarcely been researched. Although there are diverse types of sexting involving the exchange of different sexual content, two scenarios will be examined here: (a) the exchange of intimate images solely between two partners; and (b) sharing intimate images exchanged between partners with others outside the relationship.

Objective: To verify empathy-related differences between sexting within consensual relationships and non-consensual distribution of intimate images.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional study in which participants provided information through a self-reported questionnaire. Inventories for empathy and sexual impulsiveness and measures of sociodemographic features and sexting behaviors were applied.

Results: This study included 202 medical students. The groups of students engaged in sexting (with or without sharing partners’ intimate images) demonstrated higher sexual impulsiveness and lower personal distress than the reference group. Only the students who admitted to sharing partners’ intimate images showed lower empathic concern and perspective taking than the reference group (affective and cognitive empathy, respectively). Overall, the results of this study support previous findings that individuals engaged in sexting demonstrate lower personal discomfort with their actions than people not engaged in sexting.

Conclusion: Despite knowing the legal consequences of the exposure of intimate images from partners or colleagues, some students seem to prefer taking this risk.


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