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Self-reported frequency of sexual urges, fantasies, and masturbatory fantasies in heterosexual males and females


The frequency of sexual imagery outside of sexual behavior was assessed. In addition, an attempt was made to determine the viability of a distinction between internally generated sexual thoughts (fantasy) and externally provoked sexual thoughts (urge). After a 3-day practice period, 49 male and 47 female heterosexual undergraduates self-monitored the frequency of fantasies, urges, and masturbatory fantasies for 7 consecutive days. The most significant finding was that men reported a significantly greater frequency of sexual urges and masturbatory fantasies than women. No gender differences emerged with respect to fantasies. These findings suggest that a distinction between internally and externally generated sexual imagery is viable and may be useful in future studies examining the frequency, functions, and determinants of sexual imagery.

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Correspondence to Jennifer C. Jones Ph.D..

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Jones, J.C., Barlow, D.H. Self-reported frequency of sexual urges, fantasies, and masturbatory fantasies in heterosexual males and females. Arch Sex Behav 19, 269–279 (1990).

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Key words

  • self-monitor
  • sexual urge
  • sexual fantasy
  • gender