Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 517–541 | Cite as

Habituation of female sexual arousal to slides and film

  • Ellen Laan
  • Walter Everaerd


The habituation of genital and subjective sexual arousal in women was assessed. In a first experiment 32 women were randomly assigned to either a constant stimulus condition in which subjects were exposed to the same erotic slide on repeated trials within one session, or to a varied stimuli condition in which subjects were exposed to various erotic slides. A second experiment assessed habituation of sexual responses of 42 women to erotic film excerpts. In both experiments repeated erotic stimulation was followed by a novel erotic stimulus to study the effect of novel simulation to a sequence of uniform stimulation. In the first experiment a floor effect was found in response to the first three trials that prevented a valid interpretation of responding on subsequent trials. We conclude that slides yield too little sexual arousal in female subjects. In the second experiment only a slight decline in genital responding was observed. Women sustained considerable levels of genital arousal even after 21 trials of uniform stimulation. Facial EMG was used as a physiological marker of emotional experience. Zygomatic activity decreased over trials, suggesting decreasing positive affect as a result of uniform stimulation. Results are discussed in the context of selective attention, characteristics of the habituation stimulus, and novelty.

Key words

female sexual arousal habituation vaginal photoplethysmography emotion facial EMG 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ellen Laan
    • 1
  • Walter Everaerd
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Clinical PsychologyUniversiteit van AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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