, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 13-29,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 17 Sep 2010

Sexual Attraction to Others: A Comparison of Two Models of Alloerotic Responding in Men

Abstract

The penile response profiles of homosexual and heterosexual pedophiles, hebephiles, and teleiophiles to laboratory stimuli depicting male and female children and adults may be conceptualized as a series of overlapping stimulus generalization gradients. This study used such profile data to compare two models of alloerotic responding (sexual responding to other people) in men. The first model was based on the notion that men respond to a potential sexual object as a compound stimulus made up of an age component and a gender component. The second model was based on the notion that men respond to a potential sexual object as a gestalt, which they evaluate in terms of global similarity to other potential sexual objects. The analytic strategy was to compare the accuracy of these models in predicting a man’s penile response to each of his less arousing (nonpreferred) stimulus categories from his response to his most arousing (preferred) stimulus category. Both models based their predictions on the degree of dissimilarity between the preferred stimulus category and a given nonpreferred stimulus category, but each model used its own measure of dissimilarity. According to the first model (“summation model”), penile response should vary inversely as the sum of stimulus differences on separate dimensions of age and gender. According to the second model (“bipolar model”), penile response should vary inversely as the distance between stimulus categories on a single, bipolar dimension of morphological similarity—a dimension on which children are located near the middle, and adult men and women are located at opposite ends. The subjects were 2,278 male patients referred to a specialty clinic for phallometric assessment of their erotic preferences. Comparisons of goodness of fit to the observed data favored the unidimensional bipolar model.
A version of this article was presented at the University of Lethbridge Workshop, What Is Sexual Orientation?, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, June 2010.