Sexuality

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Sexuality: 

Sexuality Why do people have sex? Why don’t they? What is “sociosexuality”? How does it relate to infidelity? What determines sexual satisfaction? How do we communicate desire?

Sexual Attitudes: 

Sexual Attitudes 1972 – 46% of respondents said sex between a man and a woman before marriage was “always or almost always wrong” (National Opinion Research Center, 1972) 1996 – 32% said that it was “always or almost always wrong”

Slide3: 

But that is not to say most people endorse sex with strangers People generally disapprove of intercourse between people in uncommitted relationships (Sprecher, McKinney, & Orbuch, 1987) People who are sexually active are viewed more positively when described as being in a “serious” rather than a “casual” relationship (Bettor, Hendrick, & Hendrick, 1995)

Slide4: 

Most people also prefer their dating or marriage partners to have had limited sexual experience (McKinney & Maxwell, 1997) Thus, today there seems to be a prerequisite of relational attachment and affection for the most appropriate context of sexual activity But are there gender differences?

Gender Differences: 

Gender Differences On average, men tend to be more permissive in their sexual attitudes than women But this also depends on the attitude measured One of the largest differences is on casual premarital sex Men are more likely to enjoy sex w/o intimacy This difference has decreased over time (but what has changed?)

Slide6: 

Most Americans strongly disapprove of extramarital affairs Men have somewhat more permissive attitudes towards them (Oliver & Hyde, 1993) Cultural sexual attitudes Sexual double standards “Studs” and “sluts” What does the research say?

Slide7: 

Women who were described as sexually active were not evaluated more negatively than women who not described as sexually active (Gentry, 1998) In this study, sexually active women were seen as more liberal and assertive

Slide8: 

Men prefer potential spouses to be less sexually permissive But they favor permissive dating partners Women prefer both potential dating partners and spouses to be less permissive (Oliver & Sedikides, 1992)

Attitudes about homosexuality: 

Attitudes about homosexuality 1973 – 81% of Americans believed that homosexual sex was “always or almost always wrong” 1996 – 62% thought it was “always or almost always wrong” (NORC)

Slide10: 

Attitudes about homosexuality extend past the act of sex itself More than half of Americans object to the “homosexual lifestyle” (Turque, 1992) Gay and lesbian relationships are assumed by many to be dysfunctional and unhappy Not supported by research (Peplau, Veniegas, & Campbell, 1996)

Slide11: 

Attitudes may continue to become more positive More high-visibility gays and lesbians Will & Grace, Ellen DeGeneres, Sheryl Swoopes Civil unions in California Personal contact with a gay or lesbian person may promote positive attitudes towards homosexuals (Herek & Glunt, 1993) (reciprocal influence)

Sexual behavior: 

Sexual behavior First time for sex? Approx. 16 for males and 17 for females African-American males (14) earlier than whites or Latinos The general trend had been toward earlier experiences But rates of adolescent virginity have increased

Adolescent reasons for and against having sex: 

Adolescent reasons for and against having sex Reasons for: Express love and affection for partner Curiosity Peer pressure/want to please partner

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Reasons against: Potential for pregnancy, AIDS, STDs Moral beliefs Have not experiences sufficient love with partner Feelings of insecurity or inadequacy (men)

Predictors of first-time sex: 

Predictors of first-time sex Premarital sex is associated with: Confidence about being popular and attractive to the opposite sex A positive and accepting view of oneself More experiences involving stressful physical or family related events Girls without a father present; boys whose families change from intact to being without a father Desire to achieve “adult status” Teenagers who place greater emphasis on independence

Sex in committed relationships: 

Sex in committed relationships Frequency (Call, Sprecher, & Schwartz, 1995) Couples co-habiting: 3 times/week Married couples: 2 times/week Both have sex more frequently than single people Older people have sex less frequently Decreased hormone levels Interest may decrease (“sexual habituation”)

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Sexual orientation Initially gay men have more sex than lesbian or heterosexual couples After 10 years heterosexual couples have more sex than gay couples Lesbians have sex less frequently than the other couples regardless of relationship duration

Infidelity: 

Infidelity Recall Americans’ attitudes toward extramarital sex 25% of married men and 15% of married women report extramarital sex at least once (Laumann et al., 1994) Predictors?

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Gender Men are more likely to have an affair and are more accepting of nonmonogamy in general Gay men are most likely to report an instance of extradyadic sex

Slide20: 

Sociosexuality A general orientation toward sex as either requiring commitment or not Computer dating video experiment (Seal et al., 1995) Equity theory Underbenefitted people report more affairs (Walster, Traupmann, & Walster, 1978) Replicated for wives by Prins, Buunk, and VanYperen (1993)

Sexual satisfaction: 

Sexual satisfaction Almost 90% of respondents said they were “very” or “extremely” physically satisfied with their sexual relationships (National Health and Social Life Survey, 1994) Numbers were somewhat higher for married couples Other studies have found married couples to be quite satisfied with their sex lives (e.g. Lawrence & Byers, 1995; Oggins, Loeber, & Veroff, 1993)

Slide22: 

Sexual satisfaction is closely tied to sexual frequency (Blumstein & Schwartz, 1983) 89% of married couples having sex 3 times/week or more reported sexual satisfaction Only 32% of spouses having sex once a month or less felt the same satisfaction Sexual satisfaction is associated with relationship satisfaction May be the correspondence between desired and actual frequency May be more sex than arguments (remember Gottman)

Slide23: 

Exchange theories Rewards The degree of comfort with your partner How you feel about yourself during or after sex Physical sensations Costs Having sex when you or your partner is not in the mood Lack of spontaneity Infrequency

Slide24: 

More rewards than costs, and having expectations met lead to greater sexual satisfaction (Lawrence & Byers, 1995) Partners in equitable relationships report going further sexually Participants in equitable relationships reported more sexual satisfaction (Traupmann, Hatfield, & Wexler, 1983)

Sexual communication: 

Sexual communication Verbally Nonverbally Kissing, touching, dressing attractively Other indirect strategies? Men are more likely to initiate sexual activity The most common strategy for acceptance is simply not resisting (Hickman & Muehlenhard, 1999)

Slide26: 

People often have difficulty expressing specific sexual desires More likely to talk about likes than dislikes Sexual self-disclosure is highest when partner reciprocates Clear communication about likes and dislikes is associated with greater sexual satisfaction Greater subjective quality of experience

Sexual miscommunication : 

Sexual miscommunication Sexual aggression May be that if a man perceives a woman as sexy he hears “yes” even when she says no Aggressive men may selectively ignore resistance and use miscommunication as an excuse for rape (Warshaw, 1994)

Kinsey Questions: 

Kinsey Questions Do you think that Kinsey made a contribution to the field of human sexuality? Do you agree or disagree with his methods? Why? Can you think of some alternative ways to study human sexuality?