A sex difference in features that elicit genital response

Meredith L. Chivers*, J. Michael Bailey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

169 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-120
Number of pages6
JournalBiological Psychology
Volume70
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2005

Keywords

  • Female sexual arousal
  • Gender difference
  • Male sexual arousal
  • Penile plethysmography
  • Sex difference
  • Sexual features
  • Vaginal photoplethysmography
  • Vaginometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology

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