Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 93–107 | Cite as

Volunteer bias in erotica research: Effects of intrusiveness of measure and sexual background

  • Sharlene A. Wolchik
  • Sanford L. Braver
  • Karen Jensen
Article

Abstract

Volunteer characteristics and volunteer rates across several laboratory experiments of sexual arousal were compared. Conditions were created to assess which component of the experimental setting was responsible for low volunteer rates in experiments using genital measurement. Subjects were 324 male and 424 female undergraduate students who had volunteered for an experiment on sexuality and personality. After completing several measures of sexual experience and attitude, subjects received a written description of one of the following conditions and were asked if they wished to volunteer: (1) sexual film, (2) sexual film and subjective rating of arousal, (3) sexual film and assessment through forehead temperature, (4) sexual film and assessment with a device that was placed over the clothes and measured genital heat flow, (5) sexual film and assessment with the heat flow device while partially undressed, or (6) sexual film and assessment with the vaginal photoplethysmograph or penile strain gauge while partially undressed. Men were significantly more likely to volunteer than women, and volunteer rates for both men and women decreased significantly when and only when subjects were required to undress. Multivariate analyses of variance revealed that both male and female volunteers were more sexually experienced, reported more exposure to erotic materials, and worried less about their sexual performance than nonvolunteers. No differences in volunteer characteristics occurred across the increasingly intrusive conditions for women while a few differences occurred for men. The present findings suggest that researchers should be cautious about discussing the generality of findings of studies involving exposure to a sexually explicit film alone as well as of experiments that involve self-report or physiological measures of sexual arousal.

Key words

volunteer bias male sexual response female sexual response 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Abramson, P. R., Perry, L. B., Seeley, T. T., Seeley, D. B., and Rothblatt, A. B. (1981). Thermographic measurement of sexual arousal. A discriminant validity analysis.Arch. Sex. Behav. 10: 171–176.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Baker, W. J., and Perlman, D. (1975). Volunteer bias and personality traits in sexual standards research.Arch. Sex. Behav. 4: 161–171.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Barlow, D. H., Becker, R., Leitenberg, H., and Agras, W. S. (1970). A mechanical strain gauge for recording penile circumference change.J. Appl. Behav. Anal. 6: 355–367.Google Scholar
  4. Bentler, P. M. (1968a). Heterosexual behavior assessment. I. Males.Behav. Res. Ther. 6: 21–25.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Bentler, P. M. (1968b). Heterosexual behavior assessment. II. Females.Behav. Res. Ther. 6: 27–30.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Farkas, G. M., Sine, L. F., and Evans, I. M. (1978). Personality, sexuality, and demographic differences between volunteers and nonvolunteers for a laboratory study of male sexual behavior.Arch. Sex. Behav. 7: 513–520.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Fisher, W. A., and Byrne, D. (1978). Sex differences in response to erotica? Love versus lust.J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 36: 117–125.Google Scholar
  8. Griffit, W., and Kaiser, D. L. (1978). Affect, sex guilt, gender and the rewarding effects of erotic stimuli.J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 36: 850–858.Google Scholar
  9. Heiman, J. R. (1977). A psycho-physiological exploration of sexual arousal patterns in females and males.Psychophysiology 14: 266–274.Google Scholar
  10. Henson, D. E., Rubin, H. B., Henson, C., and Williams, J. R. (1977). Temperature change of the labia minora as an objective measure of human female eroticism.J. Behav. Ther. Exper. Psychiat. 8: 401–410.Google Scholar
  11. Hummel, T. J., and Sligo, J. R. (1977). Empirical comparison of univariate and multivariate analysis of variance procedures.Psychol. Bull. 76: 49–57.Google Scholar
  12. Kaats, G. R., and Davis, K. E. (1971). Effects of volunteer biases in studies of sexual behavior and attitude.J. Sex Res. 7: 26–34.Google Scholar
  13. Kenrick, D. T., Stringfield, D. O., Wagenhals, W. L., Dahl, R. H., and Ransdell, H. J. (1980). Sex differences, androgyny, and approach responses to erotica: A new variation on the old volunteer problem.J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 38: 517–524.Google Scholar
  14. Kinsey, A., Pomeroy, W., and Martin, C. (1948).Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. W. B. Saunders, Philadelphia.Google Scholar
  15. Kinsey, A., Pomeroy, W., Martin, C., and Gebhard, P. (1953).Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. W. B. Saunders, Philadelphia.Google Scholar
  16. Olson, C. L. (1976). On choosing a test statistic in multivariate analysis of variance.Psychol. Bull. 83: 579–586.Google Scholar
  17. Rosenthal, R., and Rosnow, R. L. (1975).The Volunteer Subject. Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  18. Schmidt, G. (1975). Male-female differences in sexual arousal and behavior during and after exposure to sexually explicit stimuli.Arch. Sex Behav. 4: 353–364.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Schmidt, G., and Sigusch, V. (1973). Women's sexual arousal. In Zubin, J., and Money, J. (eds.),Contemporary Sexual Behavior: Critical Issues in the 1970's. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.Google Scholar
  20. Sintchak, G., and Geer, J. (1975). A vaginal photoplethysmograph system.Psychophysiology 12: 113–115.Google Scholar
  21. Spence, J. T., Helmreich, R., and Stapp, J. (1974). The personality attributes questionnaire: A measure of sex role stereotypes and masculinity and femininity.Journal Supplement Abstract Service Catalog of Selected Documents in Psychology 4: 43.Google Scholar
  22. Wincze, J. P., and Caird, W. K. (1976). The effects of systematic desensitization and video desensitization in the treatment of essential sexual dysfunction in women.Behav. Ther. 7: 335–392.Google Scholar
  23. Wolchik, S. A., Spencer, S. L., and Lisi, I. S. (1983). Volunteer bias in research employing vaginal measures of sexual arousal: Demographic, sexual and personality characteristics.Arch. Sex Behav. 12: 399–408.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Zuckerman, M. (1971). Dimensions of sensation seeking.J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 36: 45–52.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sharlene A. Wolchik
    • 1
  • Sanford L. Braver
    • 1
  • Karen Jensen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

Personalised recommendations