Sex Roles

, Volume 55, Issue 1–2, pp 83–94 | Cite as

How Women’s Nonconscious Association of Sex with Submission Relates to Their Subjective Sexual Arousability and Ability to Reach Orgasm

  • Amy K. KieferEmail author
  • Diana T. Sanchez
  • Christina J. Kalinka
  • Oscar Ybarra
Original Article


Common cultural stereotypes promote women’s submission to men, especially within intimate heterosexual relationships. Mirroring these stereotypes, women possess nonconscious associations between sex and submission (Sanchez, Kiefer & Ybarra, 2006). Moreover, women’s sex-submission associations predict greater reports of engagement in submissive sexual behavior (Sanchez et al., 2006). In the present research, we again found that women associate sex with submission at a nonconscious level. Study 1 showed that women’s nonconscious sex-submission associations predict reduced subjective arousability. Study 2 further demonstrated that these associations predict impaired ability to reach orgasm among women. These findings suggest that sex-submission associations may adversely affect women’s sexual functioning.


Gender roles Stereotypes Power Sexual function Submission Nonconscious associations 



Amy Kiefer was supported by a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship and a National Institute of Mental Health postdoctoral fellowship during the preparation of this manuscript. The authors wish to thank Lora Park and Norbert Schwartz for their comments on earlier versions of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amy K. Kiefer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Diana T. Sanchez
    • 2
  • Christina J. Kalinka
    • 3
  • Oscar Ybarra
    • 4
  1. 1.University of California, San Francisco, Health Psychology ProgramSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyRutgers, the State University of New JerseyNew BrunswickUSA
  3. 3.Columbia University, Teacher’s CollegeNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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