Sexual arousal is a motivational state that moves humans toward situations that inherently pose a risk of disease transmission. Disgust is an emotion that adaptively moves humans away from such situations. Incongruent is the fact that sexual activity is elementary to human fitness yet involves strong disgust elicitors. Using an experimental paradigm, we investigated how these two states interact. Women (final N=76) were assigned to one of four conditions: rate disgust stimuli then watch a pornographic clip; watch a pornographic clip then rate disgust stimuli; rate fear stimuli then watch a pornographic clip; or watch a pornographic clip then rate fear stimuli. Women’s genital sexual arousal was measured with vaginal photoplethysmography and their disgust and fear reactions were measured via self-report. We did not find that baseline disgust propensity predicted sexual arousal in women who were exposed to neutral stimuli before erotic content. In the Erotic-before-Disgust condition we did not find that sexual arousal straightforwardly predicted decreased image disgust ratings. However, we did find some evidence that sexual arousal increased self-reported disgust in women with high trait disgust and sexual arousal decreased self-reported disgust in women with low trait disgust. Women who were exposed to disgusting images before erotic content showed significantly less sexual arousal than women in the control condition or women exposed to fear-inducing images before erotic content. In the Disgust-before-Erotic condition the degree of self-reported disgust was negatively correlated with genital sexual arousal. Hence, in the conflict between the ultimate goals of reproduction and disease avoidance, cues of the presence of pathogens significantly reduce the motivation to engage in mating behaviors that, by their nature, entail a risk of pathogen transmission.
The damaged goods hypothesis posits that female performers in the adult entertainment industry have higher rates of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), psychological problems, and drug use compared to the typical woman. The present study compared the self-reports of 177 porn actresses to a sample of women matched on age, ethnicity, and marital status. Comparisons were conducted on sexual behaviors and attitudes, self-esteem, quality of life, and drug use. Porn actresses were more likely to identify as bisexual, first had sex at an earlier age, had more sexual partners, were more concerned about contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD), and enjoyed sex more than the matched sample, although there were no differences in incidence of CSA. In terms of psychological characteristics, porn actresses had higher levels of self-esteem, positive feelings, social support, sexual satisfaction, and spirituality compared to the matched group. Last, female performers were more likely to have ever used 10 different types of drugs compared to the comparison group. A discriminant function analysis was able to correctly classify 83% of the participants concerning whether they were a porn actress or member of the matched sample. These findings did not provide support for the damaged goods hypothesis.
It is a common notion among many scholars and pundits that the pornography industry becomes “harder and harder” with every passing year. Some have suggested that porn viewers, who are mostly men, become desensitized to “soft” pornography, and producers are happy to generate videos that are more hard core, resulting in a growing demand for and supply of violent and degrading acts against women in mainstream pornographic videos. We examined this accepted wisdom by utilizing a sample of 269 popular videos uploaded to PornHub over the past decade. More specifically, we tested two related claims: (1) aggressive content in videos is on the rise and (2) viewers prefer such content, reflected in both the number of views and the rankings for videos containing aggression. Our results offer no support for these contentions. First, we did not find any consistent uptick in aggressive content over the past decade; in fact, the average video today contains shorter segments showing aggression. Second, videos containing aggressive acts are both less likely to receive views and less likely to be ranked favorably by viewers, who prefer videos where women clearly perform pleasure.
John Cleland’s 1740s pornographic novel, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure repeatedly depicts and eroticises the act of defloration. As such it is a revealing illustration of what Ivan Bloch termed the ‘defloration mania’ of the eighteenth century. This article maps narrative events on to contemporary medical depictions of first intercourse to show the ways that the theories and ideas presented in medical and pseudo-medical texts transferred into erotic fiction and demonstrates how in some instances the bloody defloration scenes can be read as being sex during menstruation, an act which was culturally forbidden at this time.
Viewing visual sexual stimuli (VSS) has been documented to have both positive (e.g., increased sexual arousal and sexual behaviors) and negative (e.g., higher anxiety, devaluing of partner attractiveness) effects. Excitation transfer and social comparison theories were used to generate hypotheses that could explain these mixed findings. Forty-four monogamous, heterosexual couples viewed erotic, exciting (non-erotic films), and nature films both alone and together. They rated their feelings of general arousal and relationship satisfaction as well as perceptions of self and partner sexual behaviors and attractiveness. Participants viewing both the erotic and exciting films reported equivalent increases in excitement; however, the erotic film was rated as slightly more generally arousing and increased participant’s desire to be close to their partner. Viewing the erotic films also induced greater reports of negative affect, guilt, and anxiety. These findings moderately support a transfer of excitation interpretation. No effects of partner presence or absence while viewing the films was found. Viewing erotic films led to more positive evaluations of one’s own sexual behaviors. These findings provide mixed support in regard to self and partner social comparisons. Co-occurring positive and negative emotional reactions were explored as possible explanation to the complex reactions to VSS.
Abstract In the context of Internet addiction, cybersex is considered to be an Internet application in which users are at risk for developing addictive usage behavior. Regarding males, experimental research has shown that indicators of sexual arousal and craving in response to Internet pornographic cues are related to severity of cybersex addiction in Internet pornography users (IPU). Since comparable investigations on females do not exist, the aim of this study is to investigate predictors of cybersex addiction in heterosexual women. We examined 51 female IPU and 51 female non-Internet pornography users (NIPU). Using questionnaires, we assessed the severity of cybersex addiction in general, as well as propensity for sexual excitation, general problematic sexual behavior, and severity of psychological symptoms. Additionally, an experimental paradigm, including a subjective arousal rating of 100 pornographic pictures, as well as indicators of craving, was conducted. Results indicated that IPU rated pornographic pictures as more arousing and reported greater craving due to pornographic picture presentation compared with NIPU. Moreover, craving, sexual arousal rating of pictures, sensitivity to sexual excitation, problematic sexual behavior, and severity of psychological symptoms predicted tendencies toward cybersex addiction in IPU. Being in a relationship, number of sexual contacts, satisfaction with sexual contacts, and use of interactive cybersex were not associated with cybersex addiction. These results are in line with those reported for heterosexual males in previous studies. Findings regarding the reinforcing nature of sexual arousal, the mechanisms of learning, and the role of cue reactivity and craving in the development of cybersex addiction in IPU need to be discussed.
The present study examined the effects of reading submission- and dominance-themed erotica on attitudes toward women and rape, ideal partner preferences, and subjective sexual arousal. Heterosexual male (n = 241) and female (n = 240) participants read one of three erotic stories depicting male dominance, female dominance, or no dominance, or a fourth nonerotic control story. First, we found that after reading about a sexually dominant man, women reported increased benevolent sexism compared to men, and men reported increased rape myth acceptance compared to women. Second, men and women showed a similar level of preference for partner dominance after reading about a sexually dominant woman. This was in contrast to the typical pattern revealed in all other conditions, whereby women were more likely to favor dominant partners relative to men. Finally, we found no evidence to support the hypothesis that the story describing male dominance would be the most arousing. Rather, all three erotic stories were equally sexually arousing compared to the control condition, and men and women did not differ in the extent to which the erotic stories aroused them. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
The headache associated with intercourse or masturbatory activity is a well-recognized clinical entity but pornography headache is barely mentioned. We report a young man who suffered preorgasmic headache pertaining only to pornography of specific erotic contents but not to other sexual or nonsexual act. An antecedent activation of sexual arousal and vasoconstriction during pain were found. Finally, oral indomethacin favorably prevented the pain. Therefore, pornography headache is a distinguished headache disorder distinct from other sexual-related headache disorders. Sexual arousal-mediated cerebrovascular dysregulation consequence to visuoneural uncoupling in response to erotic stimulus is proposed. Pornography headache may be underestimated in population as pain-killer overuse may mask the actual incidence in real world.
Sexual concordance is defined as the association between genital response and self-reported sexual arousal. Though one might predict a strong association between sexual concordance and awareness of other internal physiological sensations (termed interoception), past research on sexually healthy women has not found these different domains to be related. The aim of the present study was to test the association between interoception and sexual concordance in a clinical sample of women with Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder (SIAD). Fifty-two women with SIAD completed the Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness (MAIA), a validated self-report measure of interoception, and completed a heart-beat accuracy test, an objective measure of interoception. They also participated in a laboratory-based assessment of physiological sexual arousal and self-reported sexual arousal while viewing an erotic film. Mental and physiological arousal were correlated at r = 0.27 (range -0.80 to 0.95). There was no significant association between sexual concordance and women’s heartrate awareness. However, five aspects of interoceptive awareness (noticing, emotional awareness, self-regulation, body-listening, and trusting), were predictive of lower, and one aspect (not-distracting) was predictive of higher sexual concordance. We discuss the findings in relation to the role of emotions and arousal states in the interoception-sexual concordance relationship.
Background and aims Pornography use has become increasingly common. Studies have shown that individuals who use sexually explicit materials (SEMs) report negative effects (Schneider, 2000b). However, Bridges (2008b) found that couples who use SEM together have higher relationship satisfaction than those who use SEM independently. A further investigation into various types of SEM use in relationships may highlight how SEM is related to various areas of couple satisfaction. Thus, the purpose of the current study is to examine the impact of SEM use related to different relationship dynamics. Methods The current study included a college and Internet sample of 296 participants divided into groups based upon the SEM use in relationships (i.e., SEM alone, SEM use with partner, and no SEM use). Results There were significant differences between groups in relationship satisfaction [F(2, 252) = 3.69, p = .026], intimacy [F(2, 252) = 7.95, p = <.001], and commitment [F(2, 252) = 5.30, p = .006]. Post-hoc analyses revealed additional differences in relationship satisfaction [t(174) = 2.13, p = .035] and intimacy [t(174) = 2.76, p = .006] based on the frequency of SEM use. Discussion Further exploration of the SEM use function in couples will provide greater understanding of its role in romantic relationships.