Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 379–395 | Cite as

Sexual content induced delays in unprimed lexical decisions: Gender and context effects

  • James H. Geer
  • Heidi S. Bellard


Two experiments are reported in which subjects made unprimed lexical decisions where the targets included sexual, romantic, and neutral words. Predicted gender differences in lexical decision times are found. Women delayed their lexical decisions when the target was sexual and the delay was present, but reduced, when the target word was romantic. For men these delays while in the same direction, were smaller and failed to attain statistical significance. Data were collected on the several characteristics of the target words. We found that word familiarity influenced decision time but could not account for the word content induced delay. Similarly, neither word emotionality nor word acceptability accounted for the delay. Finding a strong effect of sexual word content for women in unprimed lexical decisions makes it clear that the effect is present at very basic levels of information processing. This suggests that it is a pervasive characteristic of the responding to sexual stimuli that occurs throughout much of cognitive activity.

Key Words

lexical decisions information processing gender differences 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • James H. Geer
    • 1
  • Heidi S. Bellard
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyLouisiana State UniversityBaton Rouge

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