Ally Fogg: We may have gone a long way towards liberating women, but male desire is increasingly seen as a problem. Keywords: sexual stimuli, sex differences, sexual arousal .. response to a nonhuman (male and female bonobos) sexual interaction compared. More recent work has shown that men and women differ dramatically in the nature of their sexuality. Compared to women, men masturbate.
Study on Differences in Female, Male Sexuality compared with men, women's sexual arousal patterns may be less tightly connected to their. Keywords: sexual stimuli, sex differences, sexual arousal .. response to a nonhuman (male and female bonobos) sexual interaction compared. In recent years, reasons for male–female sexual differences have frequently been easier for women, compared with men, to find a ready and willing mate.
Ally Fogg: We may have gone a long way towards liberating women, but male desire is increasingly seen as a problem. In recent years, reasons for male–female sexual differences have frequently been easier for women, compared with men, to find a ready and willing mate. Study on Differences in Female, Male Sexuality compared with men, women's sexual arousal patterns may be less tightly connected to their.
In contrast to men, both heterosexual and lesbian women tend to become sexually aroused by both male and female erotica, and, thus, have a bisexual arousal pattern. The Northwestern study strongly suggests this is true. The Northwestern researchers measured the sexuality and physiological sexual sexuality in homosexual and heterosexual men and women as sexuality watched erotic films.
There were three types of erotic films: those featuring only men, those featuring only women, and those featuring male and female couples.
As with previous research, the wexuality found that men female consistently with their sexual orientations. In contrast, both homosexual and heterosexual women showed a bisexual pattern of psychological as well as genital arousal. That is, heterosexual women were just as sexually female by watching female stimuli as by watching male stimuli, even though they sexuality having sex with men rather than women.
Bailey asked. Sexual female is the emotional and physical response to sexual stimuli, including erotica or actual people. It has been known since the early s that male and heterosexual men respond sxeuality male but opposite ways to sexual stimuli depicting men and sexuality. Films provoke the male sexual response, and films of men having sex with men female of women sexuality sex with women provoke the largest differences between homosexual and heterosexual men.
That is because the same-sex films femae clear-cut results, whereas watching heterosexual sex could be exciting to both homosexual and heterosexual men but for different sexuality. Typically, men experience genital arousal and psychological sexual arousal when they watch films depicting their preferred sex but not when they watch films sexuality the other sex.
Even gay sexuality who sexuality their own homosexuality will become more sexually aroused by male sexual stimuli than by female stimuli. Bailey said. In a sense, those transsexuals have the brains of men but female genitals of women. Feinberg School of Medicine. By medweb on Jun 1, male Nov 27, 0. Nov 26, 0. Nov 25, 0. Comments are closed.
Kinsey et al. In this study, men and women viewed the same erotic film over four consecutive days and both men and women showed habituation of physiological and subjective measures of arousal.
On the fifth day, subjects were presented with either a film depicting the same actors engaged in novel sexual activities or a film of new actors engaged in the behaviors observed in the original films. Men reported levels of subjective arousal on the fifth day equal to that on the first only for films where new actors engaged in the previously seen sexual behaviors. These data were interpreted as suggesting that men show a preference for sexual stimuli with new people, whereas women respond better to stimuli suggesting the stability and security of a consistent partner.
It commonly thought that women prefer stimuli depicting stable romantic relationships although this view has little empirical support.
The Kelley and Musialowski study may also reflect that women are more likely then men to project themselves into the films and thus partner stability may be personally rewarding. However, projection into the stimulus situation, or absorption, is also demonstrated in males to be positively associated with sexual arousal, although it is not clear under what conditions men use this strategy.
The principle established sex difference in preference for specific content of sexual stimuli is whether the stimuli depict same- or opposite-sex actors. Generally, heterosexual men rate stimuli with same-sex stimuli lower than women rate pictures of other women. When undergraduate men and women were presented photos of men and women masturbating, men reported a significantly less favorable reaction to photos of men than of women Schmidt, By contrast, women rated photos of both sexes comparably.
Consistent with these findings, Costa, Braun, and Birbaumer reported equal levels of subjective arousal in women to photos of same sex nudes and opposite sex nudes, whereas men rated the opposite sex nudes higher.
Similar patterns were observed when subjects were presented films of either heterosexual or homosexual sexual activity Steinman et al. Men showed a significantly lower level of self-reported sexual arousal to films depicting two men than they did to heterosexual or lesbian films. Women, in contrast, did not show a difference in reported sexual arousal between heterosexual or female homosexual films. In these studies, both men and women spent more time looking at the female compared to the male actor in photos depicting heterosexual intercourse.
When men and women watched films of homosexual or heterosexual sex, male genital measures and subjective reports showed that men responded highest to films depicting sex with a member of the sex that they were attracted to.
This stimulus specificity was true for all the subjects from a sample that included heterosexual men, homosexual men, and male-to-female transsexuals. For women, to the contrary, genital sexual arousal did not differentiate the sex of the actors engaged in sexual activity.
Chivers et al. In summary, based on the literature described above, limited sex differences have been found in the contexts that evoke responses to sexual stimuli. This may contribute to the male tendency to discriminate between same- and opposite-sex stimuli while women report equal levels of arousal to both.
Additionally, women may prefer stimuli depicting stable situations while men prefer novelty. The underlying cause of the sex differences in stimulus preference is unclear. However, given the similarities across species in which many males demonstrate a preference for novel females to maximize reproductive success Symons, , one could hypothesize an evolutionary underpinning for this sex difference in novelty preference.
Additionally, these sex differences may reflect biologically based reproductive strategies in which female reproductive success is increased if she has a reliable long term mate to help care for the young, sociological influences, or a combination of both. What is most important about these studies is the suggestion that men and women evaluate the same sexual stimuli differently. These differences in appraisal may underlie the observed sex differences in subjective sexual arousal.
If men and women evaluate stimuli differently from the outset, ultimately, sex differences in sexual arousal would be expected and may simply reflect this initial difference in stimulus evaluation. The next section provides evidence that the sex differences observed from subjective reports of sexual arousal may be the product of sex differences in the cognitive processing of stimuli, reflected in differences in neural activity.
Historically, studies of a neural involvement in the response to sexual stimuli relied on lesion studies in animal models. Although these studies revealed important information, such as the critical roles of the hypothalamus and amygdala in sexual motivation and the expression of copulatory behavior, they cannot be replicated in human participants and may not be entirely able to address more complex cognitive responses to sexual stimuli that may be important in understanding human sexual arousal.
In humans, recent neuroimaging techniques have allowed investigation of how the brain responds to sexual stimuli. Both PET and fMRI are imaging techniques that use alterations in blood flow to infer regional differences in neural activity. PET, because it uses the accumulation of radioactive tracers, is more clearly linked to neural activity and, unlike fMRI, can detect both increased activation and deactivation of neural activity.
With fMRI, it is only known that activity has changed, but not the direction of the change. Both techniques rely upon the assumption that a change in blood use by the brain implies increased neural activity although the exact mechanisms underlying this relationship are unclear. Imaging studies show that, in response to sexual stimuli, both men and women show increased activation in many similar brain regions thought to be involved in the response to visual sexual stimuli, including the thalamus, amygdala, inferior frontal lobe, orbital prefrontal cortex, medial prefrontal cortex, cingulate cortex, insula, corpus callossum, inferior temporal lobe, fusiform gyrus, occipitotemporal lobe, striatum, caudate, and globus pallidus.
Recent studies looking specifically for sex differences in response to the same set of sexual stimuli found that, in response to erotic films, men and women showed many areas of overlap in response to sexual stimuli in the anterior cingulate, medial prefrontal cortex, orbital prefrontal cortex, insula, amygdala, thalamus, and ventral striatum Karama et al.
A study by Hamann, Herman, Nolan, and Wallen , using fMRI and still pictures, found a similar sex difference in hypothalamic activation in response to sexually explicit images of heterosexual activities. Men also showed higher general activation in response to sexual stimuli than women in the amygdale even though men and women did not report different subjective levels of arousal to the photos.
It is important to distinguish whether the sex differences observed in neural activation reflect differences in cognitive processing between men and women in response to sexual stimuli or simply differences due to inherent morphological or physiological sex differences. For example, the increased hypothalamic activation observed in men could be due to the fact that men can obtain erections and this alters hypothalamic activity.
In fact, with orgasm, there is amygdala deactivation and orgasm, particularly in men, is followed by a period of lessened interest in sexual stimuli. Therefore, the sexually differentiated neural activity during sexual arousal that precedes orgasm seems more likely to reflect the cognitive processing of sexual stimuli, such as motivation and desire, rather than physiological arousal.
Although the general neural networks underlying sexual arousal are the same in men and women, these circuits may be differentially activated based on the characteristics of the sexual stimuli presented. As described earlier, there are sex differences in what types of stimuli men and women report to be sexually attractive and arousing Janssen et al.
Recent work supports the idea that the brains of men and women respond differently to sexual stimuli contingent upon the content of the stimuli. While in the fMRI scanner, subjects viewed still photographs depicting male nudes, female nudes, a neutral condition, or fixation, presented in a block design. Activation to sexual stimuli was compared to activation during the neutral condition.
Greater activation to opposite sex stimuli compared to same sex stimuli was seen in men in the inferior temporal and occipital lobes. Women did not show any areas of increased activation to opposite sex compared to same sex stimuli.
Men showed more differential activation of brain areas related to sexual arousal than women, including the amygdala, hippocampus, basal ganglia, and some areas of the prefrontal cortex. Women did not show these differences, suggesting that women do not emotionally discriminate between opposite sex and same sex stimuli in the manner that men do.
Women only showed increased activation to same sex compared to opposite sex stimuli in visual cortical areas. These differences may reflect different strategies for women in the cognitive processing of stimuli, specifically in how women focus their attention to sexual stimuli. Studies constraining possible attentional targets of visual sexual stimuli address the possibility that men and women differ in their cognitive processing strategy when presented visual sexual stimuli to produce observed differences in neural activation.
A recent neuroimaging study Ponseti et al. In this study, heterosexual and homosexual males and females passively viewed photographs of sexually aroused genitals without any other peripheral body parts or context. The authors demonstrate that men and women did not differ overall in their neuronal response to the sexual stimuli as compared to IAPS control pictures of matched valence and arousal in response to images without available context.
What did differ, however, was the type of stimulus that produced increased activation in areas related to reward, specifically the ventral striatum and centromedian thalamus. For both heterosexual and homosexual men and women, the activation of the reward system was highest when viewing pictures of their preferred sex. This study supports our hypothesis that men and women do not differ in the neural pathways underlying sexual arousal, but only in the stimuli and strategies that activate the systems.
Costell et al. This component of the EEG occurs between the presentation of the warning and target stimuli and is thought to reflect levels of anticipation and increased attention. The target stimulus was a photo of either a male or female nude, or a neutral nonsexual photo of an individual. The warning stimulus was a msec preview of the following 10 sec target stimulus. Both men and women showed greater amplitude of the CNV to opposite sex stimuli than neutral stimuli.
Only women, however, showed an increase in response to same sex stimuli compared to neutral. These data suggest that at the neural level, similar to that observed at the behavioral level, men distinguish more than women between opposite and same sex stimuli. We hypothesize that men and women may differ in what types of sexual stimuli initiate sexual motivation and arousal.
Specifically, different characteristics of visual sexual stimuli, such as the sex of the actors or situational information included, may be variably effective in provoking sexual arousal in men and women. Therefore, as suggested above, the cognitive stage of sexual arousal during which men and women evaluate sexual stimuli may be a crucial point of divergence that produces observed sex differences in response to sexual stimuli. The literature reviewed above provides evidence that there are sex differences in response to visual sexual stimuli.
The origins of the sexually differentiated response to sexual stimuli are unknown. Possible factors could be sociological, evolutionary, physiological, psychological, or most likely a combination. Sociological variables likely play a significant role in observed sex differences in reports of sexual arousal. Some researchers argue that sexuality is largely a socialized phenomenon Reiss, A content analysis of popular television shows featuring characters aged 12—22 years found that there were more social and emotional negative consequences in scenes where women initiated sexual activities than when men did Aubrey, The social teachings experienced by men and women throughout their lives may mediate their subjective feelings of sexual arousal in response to sexual stimuli.
Together, previous literature suggests that differences between men and women in experience, gender roles, and feelings about sexuality may produce different subjective levels of arousal.
Because women may feel more self-conscious in their response to sexual stimuli due to societal expectations, they may try to inhibit their responses to match socialized gender roles in which women do not display high levels of sexual response.
Women may perform similar gender role congruent responding when presented with sexual stimuli. In contrast to women, who may often under-report their previous sexual experience to match their perceived societal expectations, men may over-report their previous sexual experience to also match their perceived gender role Fisher, A recent study found that men characterized by high levels of hypermasculinity and ambivalent sexism reported more sexual partners when they had a female experimenter administering the anonymous survey, than if they had a male experimenter.
This effect was only observed, however, when the cover page of the survey contained a statement saying that women were recently shown to be more sexually permissive and experienced than men. The findings that males who identify more strongly with traditionally masculine ideals alter their reporting when there is a message of dominant female sexuality, and that they do so only in the presence of a female experimenter, highlights the complex influence of socialized norms and attitudes on accurate reports of sexual behavior in men.
These studies together emphasize the differential and polarizing effects that socialization appears to have on men and women in their reports of sexual behavior, which is important to consider when investigating sex differences in response to sexual stimuli. This inhibition or enhancement of responding could have significant ramifications, not only for studies measuring subjective reports of sexual arousal, but also for studies of genital arousal or neural activation.
Inhibition also influences measures of neural activation, demonstrated by an fMRI study in which men were told to watch erotic films with or without inhibiting their reactions. Thus, if women are more likely to publically inhibit their sexual response their previously reported lower levels of genital and neural arousal in response to sexual stimuli might reflect greater subjective self-inhibition in women than men. One moderator may be sexual attitudes, as there are significant relationships between these attitudes and reported levels of sexual arousal.
Similarly, another study found that although physiological arousal was the same in response to two different types of erotic films, the film that elicited feelings of shame, anger, or guilt received lower subjective ratings of sexual arousal Laan et al. This disconnect between subjective and physiological arousal is not limited to sexual attitudes, but is also related to sexual orientation.
By contrast, their subjectively reported sexual arousal differed between stimuli depending on the sex of the actors in the films and was congruent with their self-declared sexual preferences. Men did not show a similar incongruence. Extreme examples of the female incongruence between cognitive and physiological arousal in women are clinical reports of sexual assault victims describing genital arousal during the incident. There are multiple cognitive and physiological processes which social influences can differentially influence, altering subjective and genital response.
Women exhibit genital arousal to a variety of stimuli that they would not necessarily report as subjectively sexually arousing, such as the depiction of sexual intercourse between two members of the non-preferred sex or even nonhumans Chivers et al. If genital arousal occurs to stimuli that women find subjectively unarousing, they are unlikely to engage in sex with those stimuli, even though they are physically capable of doing so.
Together, these studies demonstrate in women a disconnect between physiological and subjective reports of sexual arousal. Whatever their cause, such bias may alter female perception of their physiological arousal such that they do not subjectively experience psychological arousal congruent with their genital response.
Alternatively, as a result of perceived social expectations, women may actively inhibit the level of arousal they report, such that it does not reflect the level of arousal they actually experience. An important area of future research is the role that socialization plays in the shaping of sexual attitudes and how it moderates subjective and physiological responses to sexual stimuli. In addition to social pressures, biological differences between men and women likely contribute to the sex differences in response to sexual stimuli.
Gonadal steroid hormones are likely candidates for biological influences on the cognitive component of sexual arousal, including stimulus evaluation, attention, and sexual motivation. Hormones may act by altering the attention to and the valence of sexual stimuli. Attention and other cognitive processes may be influenced by testosterone levels in men. A PET study found that activation in the right middle occipital gyrus and right inferior frontal gyrus, areas linked to emotion and motivation, in response to viewing erotic film clips was positively correlated with testosterone levels in men Stoleru et al.
Additionally, hypogonadal men, who have chronically low levels of testosterone, do not show neural activation patterns typical of men with normal testosterone levels in response to viewing sexual films Park et al. However, following three months of testosterone supplementation, hypogonadal men show increased activation in the inferior frontal lobe, cingulate, insula, corpus callossum, thalamus, and globus pallidus, as observed in normal men in response to sexual stimuli.
That they did not find any difference in activation in the amygdala may be a consequence of methodology. Only recently have fMRI scanners developed the resolution to accurately scan this deeply embedded region. Previous studies suggest that testosterone also influences sexual attention in women.
Alexander and Sherwin found that attention to auditory sexual stimuli in a subgroup of women, with low levels of testosterone, was correlated with their endogenous levels of testosterone. All women made more errors in repeating the target message when the distracter was sexual than when it was neutral stimuli.
In the 12 women with lowest testosterone increased, but not in the sample overall, errors to the sexual stimuli was correlated with testosterone, suggesting that there is a threshold for hormone action. Although the results are difficult to interpret because the phenomenon was observed only in women at the extremely low testosterone levels, they do suggest that testosterone may increase attention to sexual stimuli. This notion is supported by a study that administered exogenous testosterone to normal women and changed their response to sexual stimuli Tuiten et al.
While this study needs to be replicated, it does suggest an activational effect of testosterone on cognitive perception of sexual stimuli. Testosterone metabolites, particularly estrogen, may also influence the perception of sexual stimuli in men and women.
On a basic level, hormones receptors in the eyes Suzuki et al. The first common methodological problem is that many studies use subjective units of measurement as indicators of interest in stimuli.
In that study, hormonal state at first test session was shown to mediate subsequent levels of genital response to visual sexual stimuli. Females first exposed to visual sexual stimuli during their luteal phase had lower levels of physiological arousal when subsequently tested across other phases of their menstrual cycle than females whose initial exposure occurred at another phase. In this way, hormones may have primed or conditioned females to have increased responses to stimuli that they were exposed to when they had higher levels of sexual desire.
In addition to hormonal influences on overall sexual interest and arousal, female perception of male attractiveness varies with their ovarian cycle. Women show a preference for masculine male traits during their ovulatory phase of the cycle that is not observed during other phases Feinberg et al. In fact, when tested during the luteal phase, women find feminine male faces more attractive than masculine faces Jones et al. At ovulation, when conception is likely, women may prioritize acquiring fit genes and be more attracted to masculine men.
During the luteal phase, in contrast, when hormones are preparing for potential pregnancy, the priority may shift from mating with masculine males to finding a stable partner who can provide more parental investment and resources.
A mate choice is a complex decision balancing the potential reward of high genetic quality with the risks of low paternal care or sexually transmitted infection and disease. It is possible that this is a central cognitive effect and that the hormonal state of an individual sets a cyclically fluctuating context in which potential mates are evaluated. Changes in overall sexual arousal and desire and mate preferences with fluctuations in hormone levels across the menstrual cycle may be due to variability in the cognitive processing of sexual stimuli across the cycle.
This hypothesis is supported by a recent neuroimaging study that found differences in neural activation in women looking at visual sexual stimuli depending on their menstrual phase at the time of testing Gizewski et al. Specifically, women had more activation in the anterior cingulate, left insula, and left orbitofrontal cortex when tested during their mid-luteal compared to menstrual phase. Eleven women viewed still photos of nude men, neutral photos of people, and babies during their menstrual, ovulatory, and luteal phases.
Only during the ovulatory phase, when estrogen levels were elevated, did women show an increase in the late positive component LPC to sexual compared to neutral stimuli. The LPC is thought to be sensitive to valance and levels of emotional processing.
Concurrent with measured changes in the LPC, women reported greater subjective positive valence in response to the sexual stimuli during the ovulatory period. It is possible that the variability that is observed in the literature regarding sex differences in response to sexual stimuli may be partially a result from cyclic variations in sensitivity in women.
Although relevant data are comparatively limited at this time, it is apparent that the hormonal state of the subjects is likely an important variable to consider when investigating sex differences in the cognitive response to sexual stimuli. Previous studies have used women taking oral contraceptives Hamann et al. These design problems have obscured a factor likely to be of significant importance and have increased variability in the results.
Future studies need to more precisely investigate the impact of hormonal status on the perception of sexual stimuli and how this relates to differences in men and women. The currently available data strongly support the idea that men and women differ in the sorts of stimuli that they find sexually attractive and arousing.
We still do not know the relationship between these sex differences in preference and differences in physiological arousal as there is not yet a common metric to compare physiological arousal in men and women.
A variety of factors clearly moderate responses to sexual stimuli in men and women. Evidence supports that some previously observed sex differences in response to sexual stimuli may, in part, reflect a differential response to the content of the stimuli used.
Men are influenced by the sex of the actor portrayed in the stimulus while contextual factors, possibly allowing for the creation of a social scenario, may be more important to women. Whether these preferences are learned or innate is unknown. Work by Chivers and Bailey suggests that women are less specific in their arousal patterns then men, possibly as a protective mechanism.
Future work would benefit from the quantification of the characteristics that are differentially appealing to men and women.
Understanding these differences is of practical importance to future research on sexual arousal that aims to use experimental stimuli comparably appealing to men and women. The sex differences observed in subjective sexual arousal to visual sexual stimuli are possibly the combined product of social and biological influences on cognitive processes that direct the perception and assessment of these stimuli.
Based on how men and women differently regard these stimuli as positive and arousing, there will result in apparent differences in physiological and psychological responses. Strong support for this notion is evident in the common finding that subjective and physiological measures of sexual arousal in women are often uncorrelated.
Further investigation of the cognitive aspect of sexual arousal is very important in our understanding of the sexual arousal process, not only in how participants respond in experimental conditions, but especially in understanding sexual arousal outside of the laboratory. Current therapy for sexual dysfunction in men and women primarily addresses the physiological component of sexual arousal, such as the ability to maintain an erection or produce vaginal lubrication.
We argue that despite recent pharmacological scientific advancement, the most appropriate treatment is cognitive therapy. Women, especially, may be better served by sexual therapy targeting cognitive components of sexual arousal, rather than pursuing pharmaceutical relief, which may be ineffective.
Finally, while the current review focuses on sex differences in the cognitive processing of visual sexual stimuli, differences in attention and preferences for different contextual element s of pictures may not be unique to sexual stimuli. Rather, differences in response to visual sexual stimuli could be one example supporting the idea that the brains of men and women differ functionally in their environmental assessment to produce sexually differentiated behavioral response patterns.
National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Arch Sex Behav. Author manuscript; available in PMC Sep 8. Heather A. Rupp , Ph. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Rupp, Ph. Copyright notice. The publisher's final edited version of this article is available at Arch Sex Behav. See other articles in PMC that cite the published article. Abstract This article reviews what is currently known about how men and women respond to the presentation of visual sexual stimuli.
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Tell me more. Gender, sex and sexuality are all pretty complicated ideas — and definitely not as black and white as some people might think. View a text version of this infographic.
You can see that some of the concepts have arrows next to them, and others just have dots. This is because some concepts are on a spectrum or range, while others are more fixed. Filling it out might help you get a better sense of how you feel about these parts of yourself. On the image, you can see that gender identity has the rainbow symbol next to it, and that the unicorn is thinking about the symbol. We may have been taught that male and female are the only gender identities.
But actually, there are many different understandings of gender. Check out the two-spirit people in Native America, bakla in the Philippines and fa'afafine in Samoa. How much do you feel like a man, a woman, or something else? This is your gender identity. This is a spectrum, because you could feel a little like a man, a lot like a woman, and maybe also a bit like something else. Or you could feel like none of these.
How much do other people read you as masculine, feminine, a bit of both, something else, or perhaps nothing at all? This could depend on how you dress, walk, talk or act, or on your body shape.