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Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp 529–547 | Cite as

A comparison of male and female patterns of sexual arousal

  • Debra L. Steinman
  • John P. Wincze
  • Sakheim
  • David H. Barlow
  • Matig Mavissakalian
Article

Abstract

The structural patterns of sexual arousal are examined for eight male and eight female heterosexuals. Comparisons are made in terms of physiological and subjective arousal. The results indicate (1) that males and females differ in both the direction and magnitude of their arousal response to a variety of erotic stimuli and (2) that there is a stronger correspondence between subjective and physiological measures of sexual arousal for males than for females. A social acceptability and/or unacceptability theory is suggested to account for similarities and differences between the male and female structural patterns of arousal. Several methods of assessing subjective arousal are included to represent those most frequently used in clinical research settings. It is demonstrated that each of the subjective measures discriminates between erotic conditions and that the information provided by each of the measures are comparable.

Key words

sexual arousal social acceptability social unacceptability subjective measures sex differences 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Debra L. Steinman
    • 1
  • John P. Wincze
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sakheim
    • 3
  • David H. Barlow
    • 3
  • Matig Mavissakalian
    • 4
  1. 1.VA Medical CenterProvidenceUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryBrown University Medical SchoolProvidenceUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyState University of New York at AlbanyAlbanyUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Pittsburgh, Western Psychiatric Institute and ClinicPittsburghUSA

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