Sexual motivation
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Sexual Motivation. General Psych 1 Module 35 April 26, 2005 Class #25. Sexual Behavior Studies. Pre-1960’s – considered a very conservative time as far as sexual behavior is concerned Kinsey (1948, 1953) Interviewed about 5000 men and 6000 women

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Sexual Motivation

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Sexual Motivation

General Psych 1

Module 35

April 26, 2005

Class #25

Sexual Behavior Studies

  • Pre-1960’s – considered a very conservative time as far as sexual behavior is concerned

    • Kinsey (1948, 1953)

      • Interviewed about 5000 men and 6000 women

      • Almost all subjects were well-educated, white, middle-class people primarily from Indiana and Illinois

      • Results were very surprising at the time

Sexual Behavior Studies

  • Late 1960’s – early 1980’s

    • Very liberal (free) time as far as sex is concerned

    • “sex, drugs, and rock and roll”

    • Percentage who engaged in premarital sex surges

    • Attitudes become permissive

    • For example, in 1979 46% of 15-19 year-old unmarried girls were sexually active

    • Add to this the fact that most of these sexually active teens either did not or only occasionally used birth control…teen pregnancies surged during the 1970’s

Sexual Behavior Studies

  • Era of Aids (1980’s – late 1990’s)

    • Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

      • A deadly disease which is primarily sexually transmitted and will gradually destroy a body’s immune system

      • Until, around 1985 it appeared it was limited to homosexual men – soon after that it became a heterosexual concern as well but still much more common among homosexuals

      • Lots of commercials

    • Back to a conservative time as far as sexual motivations were concerned

Sexual Behavior Studies

  • Kaplan (1988)

    • 3% chance of an infected man giving it to woman during unprotected vaginal intercourse

    • Less than 2% chance of infected woman giving it to man during unprotected vaginal intercourse

    • Anal intercourse is higher (as high as 10%)

Sexual Behavior Studies

  • AIDS is proceeded by HIV virus which may produce no symptoms for up to ten years before a person is diagnosed with AIDS

  • It is suspected that all persons infected with HIV will progress to AIDS (this is not proven)

Sexual Behavior Studies

  • What were the psychological implications of all this?

    • Winklestein (1987)

      • 800 subjects from San Francisco (homosexual and heterosexual)

      • Number of sexual partners cut in half

    • Fineberg (1988)

      • 5000 homosexual men

      • Those that were either celibate (no sex) or monogomaous (one partner) rose from 14% to 39% from 1984-1986

Today: Changing views of Sexual Behavior

  • Are we heading back to the free time?

    • New questions for a new generation’s behaviors…

      • Is Cybersex cheating?

      • How do we keep kids safe from the internet?

      • Has the definition of sex changed?

        • What would our former President say?

Masters and Johnson (1966): Sexual Response Cycle

  • William Howell Masters was a gynecologist, and Virginia Johnson was a psychology researcher

  • They teamed up in 1957 to study human sexuality

  • Instead of asking people about their sexual activities, as Kinsey did, Masters and Johnson observed sexual activity in a laboratory setting

  • They developed tools and techniques for accurately measuring the physical responses of 700 men and women during masturbation and intercourse

  • They published their findings in the book Human Sexual Response in 1966

  • They divorced after 21 years of marriage - and 35 years of research

Sexual Response Cycle


    • Genital areas become engorged

    • HR, BP, breathing rates increase


    • HR, BP, breathing rates increase further


    • Muscle contractions all over the body

    • HR, BP, breathing rates increase even further

    • Feelings of pleasure apparently the same for both sexes


    • Body gradually returns to unaroused state

    • Males enter a refractory period in which he is incapable of another orgasm (this varies in time depending on the individual from a few minutes to over a day)

    • Females refractory period is not long (if at all) as often they can reach orgasm again if restimulated

Sexual Arousal

  • Internal Stimuli

    • Hormones

  • External Stimuli

    • What we read, hear, and see

  • Imagined Stimuli

    • Fantasies

Internal Stimuli

  • Sex Hormones

    • Testosterone (males)

    • Estrogen (females)

Internal Stimuli

  • Overall Analysis of Hormonal Influence…

    • It is an influence but probably not the major one

    • More research needed in this area

External Stimuli

  • Heiman (1975) provides some insight into responses of both men and women

    • Participants were sexually experienced men and women undergraduates who listened to tape recording of erotic stories

      • Obtained both self-report and physiological measures of arousal

Heiman (1975)

  • Participants listened to one of four kinds of tapes…

    • Erotic

    • Romantic

    • Erotic-romantic

    • Control

  • What was most arousing for men and women?

    • Physiological data?

    • Self-reports?

Heiman (1975)

  • Researcher also varied the plots of the tapes…

    • Whether female or male initiated sexual activity

    • Whether the plot centered on the female’s or the male‘s physiological and psychological response

  • Results???

Schmidt & Sigush (1970)

  • Researchers showed participants erotic (petting & coitus) slides and movies to 128 male and 128 female university students…

    • They found small or no difference in arousal between men and women

    • HOWEVER, women, but not men showed an increase in petting and coitus in the 24 hours after seeing the erotic stimuli

Sexually Explicit Material

  • Many view it as pleasing…but are there any harmful drawbacks?

Imagined Stimuli

  • Wilson and Barber (1983)

    • Study of 26 women with “fantasy-prone” personalities…

      • Some had experienced orgasms solely by sexual fantasies

Motives for Having Sex

  • Stereotype

    • Male

      • Interested in physical aspects and a "love 'em and leave 'em" philosophy

    • Female

      • Interested in love and romance and concerned with the interpersonal aspects of a relationship

Why have sex???

  • Hyde and her colleagues (1984) asked college students "What would be your motives for having sexual intercourse?"

    • Typical Female answers

      • emotional feelings that we shared

      • wonderful way to express love

      • wanting to share myself with someone I love

      • needing to be needed

    • Typical Male answers

      • need it

      • to gratify myself

      • for the pleasure or the love

      • to satisfy my needs

      • when I'm tired of masturbation

Sexual Orientation

  • Random Telephone Surveys in North America:

    • About 3-5% of the adult population acknowledges that they are homosexual or bisexual

    • Many feel that this is an underestimate

Lippa (2001)

  • Survey of 721 students in four large human sexuality classes at California State University, Fullerton

    • Subjects:287 men and 434 women

      • Average age = 22 years

      • 42% White

      • 22% Hispanic

      • 21% Asian

      • 15% "Others“

Lippa (2001)

  • Males:

    • 2% self-labeled as "gay“

    • 3% as "bisexual"

  • Women:

    • 1% self-labeled as "lesbian"

    • 3% as bisexual

Why is someone gay or straight?

  • Psychologists really don’t fully understand the causes of sexual orientation

    • Lets look at some biological explanations…

      • Concordance rates: MZ > DZ

      • A homosexual gene?

      • LeVay (1991): INAH3

Concordance rates

  • Eysenck (1964)

    • Reported a higher incidence of homosexuality among men whose MZ twin was gay than among men whose DZ twin was gay

  • Bailey and Pallard (1991)

    • Twin study

    • Homosexual men

    • Co-twin was more than twice as likely to be homosexual if the twins were MZ

  • Bailey, Pallard, Neale, & Agyei (1993)

    • Replicated earlier study using homosexual women

    • Same results

A homosexual gene?

  • Hamer et al. (1993)

    • Examined families of homosexual men

    • Found significantly more gay relatives on mother’s side of family

    • Maternal uncles and sons of maternal aunts (male cousins)

      • Might their be a homosexual gene on the X chromosome?

Hamer et al. (1993)

  • They continued the investigation and found that most of the homosexual men had a region in the X chromosome that was similar suggesting a genetic basis…

    • But not for all suggesting another reason

  • Important implication to all this:

    • It may be possible for non-homosexual women to pass on this gene


  • Dean Hamer, left, and J. Michael Bailey converse at a conference last May

The biological basis of sexual orientation is a research area that is coming out of the closet

  • Much of the field's current visibility is due to the wide publicity surrounding neuroanatomist Simon LeVay's 1991 study of INAH3-the third interstitial nucleus of the anterior hypothalamus-which is three times larger in men than in women

LeVay (1991)

  • Examined hypothalamic tissue from:

    • 19 gay men, all of whom died of AIDS

    • 16 heterosexual men, six of whom had died of AIDS

    • 6 women of unknown sexual orientation

LeVay (1991)

  • Found neuroanatomic differences between homosexual and heterosexual men…

    • INAH3 was two to three times larger in heterosexual men than in gay men

LeVay (1991)

  • As the first suggestion that there was a neuroanatomic difference between gay and heterosexual men, LeVay's finding garnered a great deal of public attention, and a great deal of controversy about both its scientific and its social implications

Other reasons…

  • Investigators have assessed every possible psychological cause of sexual orientation that you could think of…

    • The findings when looking at the backgrounds of those that are heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual are?

Sexual Motivation

  • More research is needed in this area

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