Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 187-209

First online:

Some sexual, personality, and demographic characteristics of women readers of erotic romances

  • Claire D. ColesAffiliated withHuman and Behavior Genetics Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry, Emory University School of Medicine
  • , M. Johnna ShampAffiliated withPsychology Department, Oglethorpe University

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In two experiments, 24 college women and 48 housewives and businesswomen in Atlanta, Georgia, volunteered to fill out questionnaires to investigate sexual, personality, and demographic variables associated with the reading of best-selling erotic romances. While there were some differences in the results obtained from younger and older women, readers tended to be between 25 and 35 years old (mean age = 30.6) while nonreaders were either younger or older. No differences between readers and nonreaders were found in marital status, income, or education. Measures of traditional versus liberal attitudes toward women's roles, locus of control, self-esteem, and intimacy were similar for both groups. Readers and nonreaders of erotic romances reported different motives for recreational reading (escape versus self-knowledge) and read different kinds of books. Readers reported having sexual relations twice as ofter per week as nonreaders and stated that they frequently used fantasy as a complement to intercourse, while nonreaders did so rarely or never. It was concluded that erotic romances provide a form of sexual stimulation for their readers similar to that provided by sexual fantasies and that they are a form of “soft-core” pornography that women find socially acceptable and nonthreatening.

Key words

erotic novels women sexual fantasy sexual frequency pornography self-esteem locus of control