A sex difference in features that elicit genital response

Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, United States
Biological Psychology (Impact Factor: 3.4). 11/2005; 70(2):115-20. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2004.12.002
Source: PubMed


Previous research suggests that women's genital arousal is an automatic response to sexual stimuli, whereas men's genital arousal is dependent upon stimulus features specific to their sexual interests. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that a nonhuman sexual stimulus would elicit a genital response in women but not in men. Eighteen heterosexual women and 18 heterosexual men viewed seven sexual film stimuli, six human films and one nonhuman primate film, while measurements of genital and subjective sexual arousal were recorded. Women showed small increases in genital arousal to the nonhuman stimulus and large increases in genital arousal to both human male and female stimuli. Men did not show any genital arousal to the nonhuman stimulus and demonstrated a category-specific pattern of arousal to the human stimuli that corresponded to their stated sexual orientation. These results suggest that stimulus features necessary to evoke genital arousal are much less specific in women than in men.

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Available from: J. Michael Bailey
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    • "Therefore this subtying is deleted in DSM-5. Another very important challenge comes from increasing recognition that male and female sexuality could be quite different (Chivers & Bailey, 2005). Until DSM-5, different genders' sexual responses were assumed to be analogous. "

    Full-text · Chapter · Jan 2014
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    • "Laboratory studies of category-specificity indeed demonstrate that men produce genital responses when their preferred sexual cues are presented , whereas women produce genital responses when any sexual cue is presented. Depending on whether or not those cues are preferred or nonpreferred, subjective sexual arousal may be present or absent (Chivers & Bailey, 2005; Chivers, Rieger, Latty, & Bailey, 2004; Suschinsky & Lalumière, 2011a, 2011b; Suschinsky et al., 2009). Most studies reporting discordance in women find a pattern opposite to what was found in the current study, in that there is usually an absence of subjective sexual arousal in the presence of a genital response (Chivers & Bailey, 2005; Chivers et al., 2004; Suschinsky & Lalumière, 2011a, 2011b). "
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    ABSTRACT: Studies investigating men and women separately suggest a sex difference in the habituation of genital responses to sexual stimuli: Men’s responses habituate readily whereas women’s responses appear more resistant. These studies also demonstrate that attention is positively correlated with habituation effects when they occur. The preparation hypothesis asserts that women’s genital responses occur automatically in the presence of sexual cues to protect them from injuries that may occur as a result of penetration. It follows that women may not habituate as much as men because the costs of not responding to sexual cues are likely higher for women than they are for men. In a recent study we found similar and pronounced habituation effects for genital responses and self-reported attention in men and in women. The aims of the current study were to examine whether habituation can be elicited when attention is maintained and if a sex difference would be observed. Thirty-six men and women were presented with 14 audiovisual stimuli following a within-subjects habituation design. Genital responses were measured using circumferential phallometry and vaginal photoplethysmography. Poststimulus ratings of sexual arousal and attention were recorded. Results showed habituation of genital but not subjective sexual responses in both sexes. Participants reported a high degree of attention across habituation trials, but controlling for changes in attention eliminated habituation effects for genital responses. The role of attention in sexual responses and the implications of our findings for the preparation hypothesis are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2013
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    • "Indeed, while heterosexual men demonstrate genital arousal primarily to female sexual stimuli and homosexual men primarily to male sexual stimuli, heterosexual and homosexual women exhibit genital arousal to both male and female sexual stimuli (Chivers, Rieger, Latty, & Bailey, 2004). In addition, heterosexual women, but not heterosexual men, showed genital arousal to a film of sexual behavior in a non-human primate (Chivers & Bailey, 2005). This research supports the premise that, at least in terms of physiological indicators of sexual arousal, men may have a more clearly defined sexual orientation than women. "
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    ABSTRACT: Recent studies investigating the relationship between self-reported sexual desire and attraction to same- and opposite-sex individuals have found that homosexual men's sexual desire is positively correlated with their self-reported attraction to own-sex individuals only, while homosexual women's sexual desire is positively correlated with their self-reported attraction to both men and women. These data have been interpreted as evidence that sexual desire strengthens men's pre-existing (i.e., dominant) sexual behaviors and strengthens women's sexual behaviors in general. Here we show that homosexual men's (n = 106) scores on the Sexual Desire Inventory-2 (SDI-2) were positively correlated with their preferences for exaggerated sex-typical shape cues in own-sex, but not opposite-sex, faces. Contrary to the hypothesis that sexual desire strengthens women's preferences for sexual dimorphism generally, homosexual women's (n = 83) SDI-2 scores were positively correlated with their preferences for exaggerated sex-typical shape cues in opposite-sex faces only. Together with previous research in heterosexual subjects, our findings support the proposal that sexual desire increases the incidence of existing sexual behaviors in homosexual and heterosexual men, and increases the incidence of sexual responses more generally in heterosexual women, although not necessarily in homosexual women.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2013 · Archives of Sexual Behavior
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