Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 475–485 | Cite as

Implicit Sexual Associations in Heterosexual and Homosexual Women and Men

Original Paper

Abstract

Patterns of genital arousal to sexual stimuli are somewhat different between men and women. Heterosexual males and homosexual males show clear category specific arousal that is consistent with their self-reported sexual preference. However, heterosexual women do not show this category specificity. In the present study, we attempted to measure a person’s automatic appraisals of stimuli with respect to the concept of sex via the use of implicit measures (the Implicit Association Test and the priming task). In three experiments, we showed that heterosexual females did not show a sex-related category specific response in favor of male versus female stimuli. However, this lack of specificity was not due to a lack of sex-related appraisals, but by equal appraisals of both male and female stimuli. On the other hand, heterosexual men, homosexual men, and homosexual women all showed automatic sex-related appraisals of stimuli that were category specific and in line with their self-reported sexual preference. The study shows difference in the pattern of sexual interest between genders at the earliest stages of the evaluation of a stimulus.

Keywords

Sexual attraction Implicit Association Test Priming task Gay men Lesbians Sexual orientation 

References

  1. Abel, G. G., Huffman, J., Warberg, B., & Holland, C. L. (1998). Visual reaction time and plethysmography as measures of sexual interest in child molesters. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 10, 81–95.Google Scholar
  2. Baumeister, R. F. (2000). Gender differences in erotic plasticity: The female sex drive as socially flexible and responsive. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 347–374.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bem, D. J. (1996). Exotic becomes erotic: A developmental theory of sexual orientation. Psychological Review, 103, 320–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bem, D. J. (2000). Exotic becomes erotic: On the development of sexual attraction. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 29, 531–548.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brown, A. S., Gray, N. S., & Snowden, R. J. (2009). Implicit measurement of sexual associations in child sex abusers: Role of victim type and denial. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 21, 166–180.Google Scholar
  6. Chivers, M. L. (2005). A brief review and discussion of sex differences in the specificity of sexual arousal. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 20, 377–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chivers, M. L., Rieger, G., Latty, E., & Bailey, J. M. (2004). A sex difference in the specificity of sexual arousal. Psychological Science, 15, 736–744.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chivers, M. L., Seto, M. C., & Blanchard, R. (2007). Gender and sexual orientation differences in sexual response to sexual activities versus gender of actors in sexual films. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 1108–1121.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chivers, M. L., Seto, M. C., Lalumiere, M. L., Laan, E., & Grimbos, T. (2010). Agreement of self-reports and genital measures of sexual arousal in men and women: A meta-analysis. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39, 5–56.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. De Houwer, J. (2001). A structural and process analysis of the Implicit Association Test. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 37, 443–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Diamond, L. M. (2003). What does sexual orientation orient? A biobehavioral model distinguishing romantic love and sexual desire. Psychological Review, 110, 173–192.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Diamond, L. M. (2005). A new view of lesbian subtypes: Stable versus fluid identity trajectories over an 8-year period. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 29, 119–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fazio, R. H., Jackson, J. R., Dunton, B. C., & Williams, C. J. (1995). Variability in automatic activation as an unobtrusive measure of racial attitudes: A bona fide pipeline? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 1013–1027.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gray, N. S., & Snowden, R. J. (2009). The Implicit Association Test as a measure of sexual interest. In D. Thornton & D. R. Laws (Eds.), Cognitive approaches to the assessment of sexual interest in sexual offenders (pp. 101–123). New York: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Greenwald, A. G., McGhee, J. L., & Schwartz, J. L. (1998). Measuring individual differences in implicit cognition: The Implicit Association Test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1464–1480.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Greenwald, A. G., Nosek, B. A., & Banaji, M. R. (2003). Understanding and using the Implicit Association Test: I. An improved scoring algorithm. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 197–216.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Janssen, E., Everaerd, W., Spiering, M., & Janssen, J. (2000). Automatic processes and the appraisal of sexual stimuli: Toward an information processing model of sexual arousal. Journal of Sex Research, 37, 8–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Karpinski, A., & Steinman, R. B. (2006). The Single Category Implicit Association Test as a measure of implicit social cognition. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 16–32.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lang, P. J., Bradley, M. M., & Cuthbert, B. N. (1997). International Affective Picture System (IAPS): Technical manual and affective ratings. National Institute for Mental Health Center for the Study of Emotion and Attention.Google Scholar
  20. Laumann, E. O., Gagnon, J. H., Michael, R. T., & Michaels, S. (1994). The social organization of sexuality: Sexual practices in the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  21. Lippa, R. A. (2006). Is high sex drive associated with increased sexual attraction to both sexes? Psychological Science, 17, 46–52.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lippa, R. A., & Arad, S. (1997). The structure of sexual orientation and its relation to masculinity, femininity, and gender diagnosticity: Different for men and women. Sex Roles, 37, 187–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Nosek, B. A., & Banaji, M. R. (2001). The Go/No-Go association task. Social Cognition, 19, 625–664.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Pattatucci, A. M. L., & Hamer, D. H. (1995). Development and familiality of sexual orientation in females. Behavior Genetics, 25, 407–420.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Petersen, J. L., & Hyde, J. S. (2011). Gender differences in sexual attitudes and behaviors: A review of meta-analytic results and large datasets. Journal of Sex Research, 48, 149–165.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ponseti, J., & Bosinski, H. A. G. (2010). Subliminal sexual stimuli facilitate genital response in women. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39, 1073–1079.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Rullo, J. E., Strassberg, D. S., & Israel, E. (2010). Category-specificity in sexual interest in gay men and lesbians. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39, 874–879.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Savin-Williams, R. C. (2006). Who’s gay? Does it matter? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15, 40–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Singer, B. (1984). Conceptualizing sexual arousal and attraction. Journal of Sex Research, 20, 230–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Snowden, R. J., Craig, R. L., & Gray, N. S. (2011). Indirect behavioral measures of cognition among sexual offenders. Journal of Sex Research, 48, 192–217.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Snowden, R. J., Wichter, J., & Gray, N. S. (2008). Implicit and explicit measurements of sexual preference in gay and heterosexual men: A comparison of priming techniques. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 37, 558–567.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Symons, D. (1979). The evolution of human sexuality. New York: Oxford Press.Google Scholar
  33. Udry, J. R., & Chantala, K. (2006). Masculinity-femininity predicts sexual orientation in men but not in women. Journal of Biosocial Science, 38, 797–809.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wolchik, S. A., Spencer, S. L., & Lisi, I. S. (1983). Volunteer bias in research employing vaginal measures of sexual arousal. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 12, 399–408.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyCardiff UniversityCardiffUK
  2. 2.Ty CatrinPastoral CymruCardiffUK

Personalised recommendations