Advertisement

Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 419–427 | Cite as

Online Sexual Activity Experience of Heterosexual Students: Gender Similarities and Differences

  • Krystelle Shaughnessy
  • E. Sandra ByersEmail author
  • Lindsay Walsh
Original Paper

Abstract

This study compared male and female university students’ experiences with online sexual activity (OSA) and tested a model explaining gender differences in OSA. OSAs were categorized as non-arousal (e.g., seeking sexuality information), solitary-arousal (e.g., viewing sexually explicit materials), or partnered-arousal (e.g., sharing sexual fantasies). Participants (N = 217) completed measures of OSA experience, sexual attitudes, and sexual experience. Significantly more men than women reported engaging in solitary-arousal and partnered-arousal OSA and doing so more often. However, the men and women who reported having engaged in partnered-arousal activities reported equal frequencies of experience. There were no significant gender differences for engaging in non-arousal OSA experience. These results support the importance of grouping OSAs in terms of the proposed non-arousal, solitary-arousal, and partnered-arousal categories. Attitude toward OSA but not general attitudes toward or experiences with sexuality partially mediated the relationship between gender and frequency of engaging in arousal-oriented OSA (solitary and partnered OSA). This suggests that attitude toward OSA specifically and not gender socialization more generally account for gender differences in OSA experience.

Keywords

Online sexual activity Gender difference Sexual attitudes Sexual socialization Sexually explicit material 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Parts of this research were conducted with the support of funding from a Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada Doctoral Fellowship to the first author and under the supervision of the second author. The data for this study were collected by the third author in partial fulfillment of her Honours thesis under the supervision of the second author. The authors would like to thank members of the Human Sexuality Research Group at the University of New Brunswick, particularly Susan Voyer and Hillary Randall, for their help with data collection and data entry.

References

  1. Ajzen, I., & Fishbein, M. (1977). Attitude-behavior relations: A theoretical analysis and review of empirical research. Psychological Bulletin, 84, 888–918.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Albarracin, D., Johnson, B. T., Fishbein, M., & Muellerleile, P. A. (2001). Theories of reasoned action and planned behavior as models of condom use: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 127, 142–161.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alexander, M. G., & Fisher, T. D. (2003). Truth and consequences: Using the bogus pipeline to examine sex differences in self-reported sexuality. Journal of Sex Research, 40, 27–35.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Allen, M., Emmers-Sommer, T. M., D’Alessio, D., Timmerman, L., Hanzal, A., & Korus, J. (2007). The connection between the physiological and psychological reactions to sexually explicit materials: A literature summary using meta-analysis. Communications Monographs, 74, 541–560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baumeister, R. F., Catanese, K. R., & Vols, K. D. (2001). Is there a gender difference in strength of sex drive? Theoretical views, conceptual distinctions, and a review of relevant evidence. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 5, 242–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Boies, S. C. (2002). University students’ uses of and reactions to online sexual information and entertainment: Links to online and offline sexual behavior. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 11, 77–89.Google Scholar
  7. Byers, E. S. (1996). How well does the traditional sexual script explain sexual coercion? Review of a program of research. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 8, 7–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Byers, E. S., Henderson, J., & Hobson, K. M. (2009). University students’ definitions of sexual abstinence and having sex. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 665–674.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Byers, L. J., Menzies, K. S., & O’Grady, W. L. (2004). The impact of computer variables on the viewing and sending of sexually explicit material on the Internet: Testing Cooper’s “Triple-A Engine”. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 13, 157–169.Google Scholar
  10. Cha, E. S., Doswell, W. M., Kim, K. H., Charron-Prochownik, D., & Patrick, T. E. (2007). Evaluating the theory of planned behavior to explain intention to engage in premarital sex amongst Korean college students: A questionnaire survey. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 44, 1147–1157.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cooper, A., & Griffin-Shelley, E. (2002). Introduction. The Internet: The next sexual revolution. In A. Cooper (Ed.), Sex and the Internet: A guidebook for clinicians (pp. 1–15). New York: Brunner-Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Cooper, A., Morahan-Martin, J., Mathy, R. M., & Maheu, M. (2002). Toward an increased understanding of user demographics in online sexual activities. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 28, 105–129.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Daneback, K., Cooper, A., & Månsson, S.-A. (2005). An Internet study of cybersex participants. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 34, 321–328.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Field, G. (2009, January 5). Houston, we have a porn problem. Glamour Magazine. Retrieved February 19, 2008, from http://www.glamour.com/sex-love-life/2009/01/houston-we-have-a-porn-problem?currentPage=4.
  15. Gagnon, J. H., & Simon, W. (1973). Sexual conduct: The social sources of human sexuality. Chicago, IL: Aldine.Google Scholar
  16. Ganesalingam, K., Sanson, A., Anderson, V., & Yeates, K. O. (2007). Self-regulation as a mediator of the effects of childhood traumatic brain injury on social and behavioral functioning. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 13, 298–311.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Goodson, P., McCormick, D., & Evans, A. (2001). Searching for sexually explicit materials on the internet: An exploratory study of college students’ behavior and attitudes. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 30, 101–118.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Heinz, B., Gu, L., Inuzuka, A., & Zender, R. (2002). Under the rainbow flag: Webbing global gay identities. International Journal of Sexuality and Gender Studies, 7, 107–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hudson, W. W., Murphy, G. J., & Nurius, P. S. (1983). A short-form scale to measure liberal vs. conservative orientation toward human sexual expression. Journal of Sex Research, 19, 258–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jackson, L. A., Ervin, K. S., Gardner, P. D., & Schmitt, N. (2001). Gender and the Internet: Women communicating and men searching. Sex Roles, 44, 363–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ku, L., Sonenstein, F. L., Lindberg, L. D., Bradner, C. H., Boggess, S., & Pleck, J. H. (1998). Understanding changes in sexual activity among young metropolitan men: 1979–1995. Family Planning Perspectives, 30, 256–262.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lopez, P. A., & George, W. H. (1995). Men’s enjoyment of explicit erotica: Effects of person-specific attitudes and gender-specific norms. Journal of Sex Research, 32, 275–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. O’Reilly, S., Knox, D., & Zusman, M. E. (2007). College student attitudes toward pornography use. College Student Journal, 41, 402–406.Google Scholar
  24. O’Sullivan, L. F., & Byers, E. S. (1992). College students’ incorporation of initiator and restrictor roles in sexual dating interactions. Journal of Sex Research, 29, 435–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Peterson, J. L., & Hyde, J. S. (2010). A meta-analytic review of research on gender differences in sexuality, 1993–2007. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 21–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. PEW Internet and American Life Project. (2009, December 4). Trend data. Retrieved March 23, 2010, from http://www.pewinternet.org/Trend-Data/Online-Activities-Daily.aspx.
  27. PEW Internet and American Life Project (2010, January 6). Demographics of internet users. Retrieved March 23, 2010, from http://pewinternet.org/Static-Pages/Trend-Data/Whos-Online.aspx.
  28. Preacher, K. J., & Hayes, A. F. (2008). Asymptotic and resampling strategies for assessing and comparing indirect effects in multiple mediator models. Behavior Research Methods, 40, 879–891.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Rye, B. J., & Meaney, G. J. (2007). The pursuit of sexual pleasure. Sexuality and Culture, 11, 28–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Schwartz, P., & Rutter, V. (2000). The gender of sexuality: Sexual possibilities (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.Google Scholar
  31. Simpson, J. A., & Gangestad, S. W. (1991). Individual differences in sociosexuality: Evidence for convergent and discriminant validity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 870–883.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Spector, I. P., Carey, M. P., & Steinberg, L. (1996). The Sexual Desire Inventory: Development, factor structure, and evidence of reliability. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 22, 175–190.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Traeen, B., Nilsen, T. S., & Stigum, H. (2006). Use of pornography in traditional media and on the Internet in Norway. Journal of Sex Research, 43, 245–254.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wiederman, M. W. (1999). Volunteer bias in sexuality research using college student samples. Journal of Sex Research, 36, 59–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Wiederman, M. W. (2005). The gendered nature of sexual scripts. The Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families, 13, 496–502.Google Scholar
  36. Yost, M. R., & Zurbriggen, E. L. (2006). Gender differences in the enactment of sociosexuality: An examination of implicit social motives, sexual fantasies, coercive sexual attitudes, aggressive sexual behavior. Journal of Sex Research, 43, 163–173.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Krystelle Shaughnessy
    • 1
  • E. Sandra Byers
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lindsay Walsh
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of New BrunswickFrederictonCanada
  2. 2.Department of KinesiologyUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada

Personalised recommendations