Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 131–143 | Cite as

Male sexual arousal across five modes of erotic stimulation

  • Elise Julien
  • Ray Over


Penile circumference changes and subjective sexual arousal were recorded when erotic material depicting the same sequence of events was experienced in five different modes: film, slides, spoken-text, written-text, and fantasy. Twenty-four men were tested within a repeated-measures design, with the order of presentation of modes counterbalanced across subjects. Sessions were separated by 24 hr or more. The highest levels of physiological and subjective arousal were found for film, while fantasy produced the lowest level of arousal. Slides, spoken-text, and written-text elicited intermediate levels of arousal, and these three conditions were equally potent. Factors relating to mode differences in arousal to erotic stimulation are discussed.

Key words

male sexual arousal penile tumescence erotic stimulation modality differences psychophysiological 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abel, G. G., and Blanchard, E. B. (1976). The measurement and generation of sexual arousal in male sexual deviates. In Hersen, M., Eisler, R., and Miller, R. M. (eds.),Progress in Behavior Modification, Vol. 2, Academic Press, New York, pp. 99–133.Google Scholar
  2. Abel, G. C., Barlow, D. H., Blanchard, E. B., and Mavissakalian, M. (1975a). Measurement of sexual arousal in male homosexuals: The effects of instructions and stimulus modality.Arch. Sex. Behav. 4: 623–629.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Abel, G. G., Blanchard, E. B., Barlow, D. H., and Mavissakalian, M. (1975b). Identifying specific erotic cues in sexual deviations by audiotaped descriptions.J. Appl. Behav. Anal. 8: 247–260.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Abelson, H., Cohen, R., Heaton, E., and Suder, C. (1970). Public attitudes toward and experience with erotic materials. InTechnical Reports of the Committee on Obscenity and Pornography, Vol. 8, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  5. Bancroft, J. H., Jones, H. C., and Pullan, B. R. (1966). A single transducer for measuring penile erection, with comments on its use in the treatment of sexual disorders.Behav. Res. Ther. 4: 239–241.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Bancroft, J., and Mathews, A. (1971). Autonomic correlates of penile erection.J. Psychosom. Res. 15: 159–167.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Bentler, P. M. (1968). Heterosexual behavior assessment—1.Males. Behav. Res. Ther. 6: 21–25.Google Scholar
  8. Byrne, D., and Lamberth, J. (1970). The effect of erotic stimuli on sex arousal evaluative responses and subsequent behavior. InTechnical Reports of the Committee on Obscenity and Pornography, Vol. 8, U.S. Government Priniting Office, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  9. Campagna, A. F. (1976). Normative and functional aspects of young men's masturbation fantasies. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Yale University.Google Scholar
  10. Carroll, D., Baker, J., and Preston, M. (1979). Individual differences in visual imagery and the voluntary control of heart rate.Brit. J. Psychol. 70: 39–49.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Cook, R. F., Fosen, R. H., and Pacht, P. (1971). Pornography and the sex offender: Patterns of previous exposure and arousal effects of pornographic stimuli.J. Appl. Psychol. 55: 503–571.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Dekker, J., Everaerd, W., and Verhelst, N. (1985). Attending to stimuli or to images of sexual feelings: Effects on sexual arousal.Behav. Res. Ther. 23: 139–149.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Drummond, P., White, K., and Ashton, R. (1978). Imagery vividness affects habituation rate.Psychophysiology 15: 193–195.Google Scholar
  14. Freund, K., Langevin, R., and Zajac, Y. (1974). A note on the erotic arousal value of moving and stationary human forms.Behav. Res. Ther. 12: 117–119.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Freund, K., Scher, H., Racansky, I. G., Campbell, K., and Heasman, G. (1986). Males disposed to commit rape.Arch. Sex. Behav. 15: 23–35.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Fuhr, R. (1976). Facilitation of sexual arousal through imagery. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, State University of New York at Stony Brook.Google Scholar
  17. Geer, J. H., and Fuhr, R. (1976). Cognitive factors in sexual arousal: The role of distraction.J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 44: 238–243.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Harris, R., Yulis, S., and LaCosts, D. (1980). Relationships among sexual arousability, imagery ability, and introversion-extroversion.J. Sex Res. 16: 72–86.Google Scholar
  19. Julien, E., and Over, R. (1981). Male sexual arousal and the law of initial value.Psychophysiology 18: 709–711.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Julien, E., and Over, R. (1984). Male sexual arousal with repeated exposure to erotic stimuli.Arch. Sex. Behav. 13: 211–222.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Kinsey, A. C., Pomeroy, W. B., and Martin, C. E. (1948).Sexual Behavior in the Human Male Saunders, Philadelphia.Google Scholar
  22. Kolarsky, A., and Madlafousek, J. (1972). Female behavior and sexual arousal in heterosexual male deviant offenders.J. Nerv. Ment. Dis. 155: 110–118.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Levitt, E. E., and Hinesley, R. K. (1967). Some factors in the valences of erotic visual stimuli.J. Sex Res. 3: 63–68.Google Scholar
  24. Mann, J. (1970). The experimental induction of human sexual arousal. InTechnical Reports of the Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, Vol. 1, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  25. McConaghy, N. (1974). Penile volume responses to moving and still pictures of male and female nudes.Arch. Sex. Behav. 3: 565–570.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Report of the Effects Panel to the Commission on Obscenity and Pornography. (1970). InThe Report of the Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, Part II. The Impact of Erotica, Bantam, New York.Google Scholar
  27. Reifler, C. B., Howard, J., Lipton, M. A., Liptzin, M. B., and Widmann, D. E. (1971). Pornography: An experimental study of effects.Am. J. Psychiat. 128: 575–582.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Sandford, D. A. (1974). Patterns of sexual arousal in heterosexual males.J. Sex Res. 10: 150–155.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Smith, D., and Over, R. (1987). Correlates of fantasy-induced and film-induced male sexual arousal.Arch. Sex. Behav. 16: 395–409.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Steinman, D. L., Wincze, J. B., Sakheim, D. K., Barlow, D. H., and Mavissakalian, M. (1981). A comparison of male and female patterns of sexual arousal.Arch. Sex. Behav. 10: 529–547.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Tannenbaum, P. A. (1970). Emotional arousal as a mediator of communication effects. InTechnical Reports of the Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, Vol. 8, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  32. White, K. D. (1978). Salivation: The significance of imagery in its voluntary control.Psychophysiology 15: 196–203.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Wilson, G. T., and Lawson, D. M. (1976). Expectancies, alcohol, and sexual arousal in male social drinkers.J. Abn. Psychol. 85: 587–594.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elise Julien
    • 1
  • Ray Over
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyLa Trobe UniversityBundooraAustralia

Personalised recommendations