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Sexual Behavior

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Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine


Sex; Sexual activity


There is a diverse array of activities that can be classified as sexual behavior: masturbation, oral-genital stimulation (oral sex), penile-vaginal intercourse (vaginal sex), and anal stimulation or anal intercourse. Sexual behaviors may also include activities to arouse the sexual interest of others or attract partners. Individuals engage in sexual behaviors for a variety of reasons, differ in their acceptability based on societal norms, and change across the lifespan.


What is Sexual Behavior: Types of Sexual Behaviors

Sexual behavior includes a wide variety of activities individuals engage in to express their sexuality (Crooks & Baur, 2008). Abstinence and celibacy are terms used for individuals who do not engage in certain or any sexual behaviors. Kissing and touching are sexual behaviors that stimulate the erogenous zones of one’s partner. Masturbation is a sexual behavior referring to stimulation of one’s genitals to create...

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  • Crooks, R., & Baur, K. (2008). Our sexuality (10th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Thomson.

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Correspondence to Jennifer L. Brown .

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© 2013 Springer Science+Business Media, New York

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Brown, J.L. (2013). Sexual Behavior. In: Gellman, M.D., Turner, J.R. (eds) Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine. Springer, New York, NY.

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