Entries in gender (13)


Taking the Nasty Out of “Doing the Nasty”: Sexual Arousal Reduces Women’s Disgust

Ladies, be honest: Do certain aspects of sexual activity sometimes gross you out? If you answered yes, you’re not alone, and there’s a psychological and physiological explanation for why you might feel that way. Both sex and disgust are core aspects of human experience. Scientists believe that disgust evolved as a defensive mechanism to keep us from being contaminated by external sources.1 Accordingly, the mouth and the vagina, two body parts that lie at the border of the body (and are therefore at a higher risk for contamination), demonstrate greater disgust sensitivity; for example, we are likely to be especially grossed out by having a spider crawling on/around the mouth or vagina compared to, say, the left arm.2 Add to this the finding that some of the strongest triggers for disgust are body odor, saliva, semen, and sweat, all heavily involved when getting “down and dirty,” and you can see how the relation between sex and disgust seems contradictory or even obstructive. In fact, you might be left wondering how humans manage to have pleasurable sex at all! 

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No Means No? Reading Men’s and Women’s Magazines Linked to Sexual Consent

image source: salidalliance.orgMen’s and women’s magazines provide different messages about sex to their respective readers. In a study of over 300 students, exposure to such magazines was related to students’ feelings about obtaining sexual consent. Those who read more men’s magazines reported a lower likelihood of requiring consent before having sex; those who read more women’s magazines reported a greater likelihood to refuse unwanted sex. We can’t infer that reading men’s magazines causes these troublesome opinions about sexual consent; however, it does warrant paying greater attention to the messages that men’s magazines send and about those who are inclined to read them.

Hust, S. T., Marett, E., Ren, C., Adams, P. M., Willoughby, J. F., Lei, M., & ... Norman, C. (2014). Establishing and adhering to sexual consent: The association between reading magazines and college students’ sexual consent negotiation. Journal of Sex Research, 51(3), 280-290.


Are You "Creeping"? Jealousy and Partner Monitoring on Facebook

Facebook has changed the way people share information about their relationships and the way they communicate with their romantic partners. As I discussed here, Facebook provides opportunities for people to express their relationship satisfaction and commitment, but, as we learned here, Facebook is also a forum where people can access information about their romantic partners that may trigger jealousy.1 Ambiguous posts on a partner’s wall (“Great to see you last night!”) or the addition of a new, attractive person to a partner’s Facebook friend list may incite feelings of jealousy and insecurity. In our recent research, we wanted to address the following questions: How do people respond to jealousy-provoking information on Facebook? And who is more likely to seek out additional information in response to feelings of jealousy?

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Valentine’s Day Cards through the Lens of Science

If you plan on getting someone a gift for Valentine’s Day, chances are that a card is part of the package. Whether the card is the only thing you get your Valentine, or if it accompanies jewelry, roses, or chocolates, you probably will spend some time thinking about the card’s message. 

But what do these cards really say? And more importantly, are they saying things that are scientifically factual? To answer these questions, I went out to the local supermarket to see what I could find.

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Sexuality Is Complicated...So Here's A Summary


Responsiveness and Desire for Sex: The Goldilocks Phenomenon

Gurit Birnbaum presented research on how a partner’s responsiveness (in other words, their emotional availability and supportiveness) influences a person’s desire for sex with them during a first impression, and how this differs based on attachment style and gender.

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Bring Home the Bacon. And Cook It. 

A number of theories attempt to explain why married women tend to do more housework than their husbands (note: none of them are called the “Men Are Lazy Theory”). Among the explanations offered is the “power,” or “bargaining,” perspective. Here, so the argument goes, people who make more money outside the home can essentially get by with doing less inside the home because their extra income ‘allots’ them that luxury (i.e., I bring home the bacon. You cook it. Even-Steven). It’s an interesting theory, but one that has received only mixed support…until now.

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Is the Unemployment Rate Tied to the Divorce Rate?

If you’re like most people, you probably read the question posed in the title of this article and thought, “Of course!” And you would be right—there is indeed a statistical association between the unemployment rate and the divorce rate. But what is the nature of that association? Is unemployment related to an increase or a decrease in the number of divorces? Unfortunately, that question is somewhat more difficult to answer. So far this year, scientists have released two studies on this topic and have come to two seeming different conclusions. 

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Men Want Cuddles, Women Want Sex

Say what? This headline likely caught your attention because it challenges our predominant stereotypes about gender and heterosexual relationships.

The media would have us believe that men look for unemotional, no-strings-attached sex whereas women have sex primarily for the cuddling afterwards. Sex and the City featured an episode about ‘having sex like a man,’ a term that referred to having sex without emotions.

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Men are from Earth, Women are from Earth

According to Dr. John Gray’s popular series of self-help relationship books, men and women struggle with one another in their relationships because they are from “different planets.”

One of our readers, Lizette, was curious about the validity of the claims made in Gray’s books. Specifically, she asked: What truth is there to Dr. John Gray's (Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus) theory that men are like rubber bands?

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From Friends to Lovers

Cornina asked: "Is it realistic to believe that a man and a woman can move past the awkward barrier of good friends into passionate, romantic love?"

Dear Corina,

The answer is yes, friends can (and often do) become lovers, although as your question implies, the transition can be somewhat awkward.

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How Jealous Are You? Check Your Fingers!

Romantic partners often experience jealousy (see our previous post on jealousy and Facebook), but interestingly, who makes us jealous may lie in how long our fingers are!

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College Sex: Consequences for Body Image

Men and women view their own bodies differently after having sex for the first time.  According to research led by Sara Vasilenko, when college-aged men lose their virginity, they become happier with their looks, whereas college-aged women become less happy with their looks after having sex.

Click here to read more about these findings at ScienceDaily.com

Vasilenko, S. A., Ram, N., &  Lefkowitz, E. S. (2011). Body image and first sexual intercourse in late adolescence. Journal of Adolescence, 34, 327-335.