Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 131–139 | Cite as

Differences between males and females in motives for engaging in sexual intercourse

  • Janell Lucille Carroll
  • Kari Doray Volk
  • Janet Shibley Hyde


In a test of the hypothesis that a difference exists between males and females in motives for participating in sexual intercourse, a random sample of 249 college students was given a questionnaire containing questions about sexual behavior and attitudes, focusing on motives for having intercourse. There were significant differences between males and females in approval of casual sexual intercourse, number of premarital sexual partners, most important part of sexual behavior, and whether an emotional involvement was a prerequisite for participating in sexual intercourse. Effect-size analyses indicated that these differences are large, with a median ω2 = 0.24. Both males and females approved of premarital sexual intercourse in a serious relationship and stressed the importance of feeling loved and needed. However, males found it easier to participate in sexual intercourse without an emotional commitment, whereas females were unlikely to want intercourse for physical pleasure in the absence of psychological involvement.

Key words

gender differences motives for intercourse intercourse sexuality 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bardwick, J. (1971).The Psychology of Women. Harper & Row, New York.Google Scholar
  2. Ehrmann, W. W. (1959).Premarital Dating Behavior. Holt, New York.Google Scholar
  3. Heiman, J. (1975). The physiology of erotica: Women's sexual arousal.Psychol. Today 8(11): 90–94.Google Scholar
  4. Hite, S. (1976).The Hite Report. Macmillan, New York.Google Scholar
  5. Hite, S. (1981).The Hite Report on Male Sexuality. Knopf, New York.Google Scholar
  6. Hopkins, J. R. (1977). Sexual behavior in adolescence.J. Soc. Issues 33(2): 67–85.Google Scholar
  7. Hunt, J. (1974).Sexual Behavior in the 1970s. Playboy Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  8. Hyde, J. S. (1981). How large are cognitive gender differences? A meta-analysis usingω 2 andd.Amer. Psychol. 36: 892–901.Google Scholar
  9. Kaplan, H. S., and Sager, C. I. (1971). Sexual patterns at different ages.Med. Aspects Human Sex. 10–23.Google Scholar
  10. Keller, J. F., Elliott, S. S., and and Gunberg, E. (1982). Premarital sexual intercourse among single college students: A discriminant analysis.Sex Roles 8: 21–32.Google Scholar
  11. Miller, P. Y., and Simon, W. (1980). The development of sexuality in adolescence. In Adelson, J. (ed.),Handbook of Adolescent Psychology Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  12. Reiss, I. L. (1960).Premarital Sexual Standards in America. Free Press, Glencoe, Illinois.Google Scholar
  13. Shope, D. F. (1975).Interpersonal Sexuality. W. B. Saunders, Philadelphia.Google Scholar
  14. Simon, W., Berger, A. S., and Gagnon, J. S. (1972). Beyond anxiety and fantasy: The coital experiences of college youth.J. Youth Adolescence 1: 203–222.Google Scholar
  15. Sorenson, R. C. (1973).Adolescent Sexuality in Contemporary America. World, New York.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Janell Lucille Carroll
    • 1
  • Kari Doray Volk
    • 1
  • Janet Shibley Hyde
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentDenison UniversityGranvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations