Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 1–12 | Cite as

Sadomasochistically Oriented Behavior: Diversity in Practice and Meaning

  • Laurence Alison
  • Pekka Santtila
  • N. Kenneth Sandnabba
  • Niklas Nordling


One hundred and eighty-four subjects (22 women and 162 men) who were members of two sadomasochistically oriented clubs answered a semistructured questionnaire containing items relating to a variety of sexual behaviors. Using a multivariate statistical analysis that geometrically represents the co-occurrence of individual actions as a visual array (Guttman (1954). In Lazarfeld, P. E. (ed.), Mathematical Thinking in the Social Sciences, Free Press, Glencoe, IL.) four qualitatively different sexual scripts emerged: hypermasculinity; administration and receiving of pain; physical restriction; and psychological humiliation. Although similar themes have been suggested before, this study demonstrated their empirical base. Humiliation was significantly associated more with females and with heterosexual orientation in men, while hypermasculinity was associated with males and with homosexual orientation in men.

sadomasochism homosexuality heterosexuality hypermasculinity humiliation 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Baumeister, R. F. (1988). Masochism as escape from self. J. Sex Res. 25: 28–59.Google Scholar
  2. Califia, P. (1979, December 17). A secret side of lesbian sexuality. Advocate: 19–23.Google Scholar
  3. Canter, D. V. (1983). The potential of facet theory for applied social psychology. Quality and Quantity, 17: 35–67.Google Scholar
  4. Canter, D. V. (ed.). (1985). Facet Theory: Approaches to Social Research, Springer, New York.Google Scholar
  5. Canter, D. V., and Heritage, R. (1990). A multivariate model of sexual offense behavior: Developments in 'offender profiling.' J. Forensic Psychiat. 1: 185–212.Google Scholar
  6. Canter, D. V., Hughes, D., and Kirby, S. (1998). Pedophilia: Pathology, criminality or both? The development of a multivariate model of offense behavior in child sexual abuse. J. Forensic Psychiat. 9: 532–555.Google Scholar
  7. Elizur, D., and Sagie, A. (1999). Facets of personal values: A structural analysis of life and work values. Appl. Psychol: Int. Rev. 48: 73–87.Google Scholar
  8. Foa, U. G. (1965). New Developments in facet design and analysis. Psychol. Rev. 72: 262–274.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Gebhard, P. (1969). Fetishism and sadomasochism. In Masserman, J. H. (ed.), Dynamics of Deviant Sexuality, Grune and Stratton, New York, pp. 71–80.Google Scholar
  10. Guttman, L. (1954). A new approach to factor analysis: The circle. In Lazarfeld, P. E. (ed.), Mathematical Thinking in the Social Sciences, Free Press, Glencoe, IL.Google Scholar
  11. Guttman, L. (1968). A general nonmetric technique for finding the smallest co-ordinate space for a configuration of points. Psychometrika 33: 469–506.Google Scholar
  12. Haeberle, E. (1978). The Sex Atlas, Seabury Press, New York.Google Scholar
  13. Kamel, G. W. L. (1983). The leather career: On becoming a sadomasochist. In Weinberg, T. and Kamel, G. W. L. (eds.), S and M: Studies in Sadomasochism, Prometheus, Buffalo, NY, pp. 73–79.Google Scholar
  14. Katchadourian, H., and Lunde, D. (1975). Fundamentals of Human Sexuality, 2nd Ed., Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York.Google Scholar
  15. Lee, J. A. (1979). The social organization of sexual risk. Alternative Lifestyles 2: 69–100.Google Scholar
  16. Messman, T. L., and Long, P. S. (1996). Child sexual abuse and its relationship to revictimization in adult women: A review. Clin. Psychol. Rev. 16: 397–420.Google Scholar
  17. Moser, C., and Levitt, E. (1987). An exploratory-descriptive study of a sadomasochistically oriented sample. J. Sex Res. 23: 322–337.Google Scholar
  18. Nordling, N., Sandnabba, N. K., and Santtila, P. (2000). The prevalence and effects of self-reported childhood sexual abuse among sadomasochistically oriented males and females. J. Child Sex. Abuse 9, in press.Google Scholar
  19. Sandnabba, N. K., Santtila, P., and Nordling, N. (1999). Sexual behavior and social adaptation among sadomasochistically-oriented males. J. Sex Res. 36: 273–282.Google Scholar
  20. Santtila, P., Sandnabba, N. K., and Nordling, N. (in press). Retrospective perceptions of family interaction in childhood as correlates of current sexual adaptation among sadomasochistic males. J. Psychol. Hum. Sex., in press.Google Scholar
  21. Shye, S., Elizur, D., and Hoffman, M. (1994). Introduction to Facet Theory: Content Design and Intrinsic Data Analysis in Behavioral Research, Sage Publications, London.Google Scholar
  22. Spengler, A. (1977). Manifest sadomasochism of males: Results of an empirical study. Arch. Sex. Behav. 6: 441–456.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Weinberg, M., Williams, C. J., and Moser, C. (1984). The social constituents of sadomasochism. Soc. Probl. 31: 379–389.Google Scholar
  24. Weinberg, T. S. (1987). Sadomasochism in the United States: A review of recent sociological literature. J. Sex Res. 23: 50–69.Google Scholar
  25. Weinberg, T. S., and Kamel, G. W. L. (1983). S & M: An introduction to the study of sadomasochism. In Weinberg, T., and Kamel, G. W. L. (eds.), S and M: Studies in Sadomasochism, Prometheus, Buffalo, NY, pp. 17–24.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laurence Alison
    • 1
  • Pekka Santtila
    • 2
  • N. Kenneth Sandnabba
    • 2
  • Niklas Nordling
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Eleanor Rathbone BuildingUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyÅbo Akademi UniversityFinland

Personalised recommendations