Entries in sexual behavior (12)


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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Stronger Impulses or Less Control? Why Men Succumb to Sexual Temptations

Research suggests that men tend to surrender to sexual temptations, like cheating, more than women. Is this because men have stronger sexual urges, or because they can’t control themselves? Across two studies, participants indicated the strength of their sexual impulses and their ability to control themselves when encountering “forbidden” others (e.g., being attracted to someone already in a relationship). Men acted on inappropriate attraction more than women, and this occurred because men had stronger sexual impulses, rather than men being less able to exert self-control. Men’s higher sex drive, therefore, might lend insight into why they engage in certain behaviors.

Tidwell, N. D., & Eastwick, P. W. (2013). Sex differences in succumbing to sexual temptations: A function of impulse or control? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39, 1620-1633. doi: 10.1177/0146167213499614


Female Adolescents’ First Coitus: Gaining Sexual Experience, Not Just “Losing” Virginity

Taking advantage of a large-scale study in which 14- to 17-year-old adolescent women completed 84 successive days of brief surveys (i.e., “daily diaries”), researchers identified 41 women who reported having sex for the first time during the diary period. The research team assessed how women felt on the day prior to, the day of, and the day after having sexual intercourse for the first time. The women reported greater sexual interest the day just prior to their first intercourse (and on the day of), relative to the day after having sex for the first time, and they reported similarly higher levels of sexual interest on subsequent days on which they had sex (as did their more sexually experienced counterparts in the larger sample).

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What Does It Mean to “Make Sex Normal”?

While writing last week’s article about the importance of sex in relationships, I started thinking about the taboo nature of sex in North American culture. In the article I mentioned that “North America is arguably a highly sexualized culture, but at the same time, sexuality is rarely talked about in an open, honest way.” Around the time I posted my article, I came across a TED talk that presents a simple way to alter the stigma associated with talking about sex and sexuality.  

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Why Are Men Attracted to the "Lady in Red"?

image source: retrieverman.wordpress.comWe discussed previously how men view women who wear red (vs. other colors) as more physically attractive and sexually desirable. Researchers have recently discovered that this preference exists because men perceive red as indicating greater sexual receptivity in women. These results are consistent with evolutionary perspectives and research indicating female primates display red on their bodies to indicate sexual receptivity. 

Pazda, A. D., Elliot, A. J., & Greitemeyer, T. (in press). Sexy red: Perceived sexual receptivity mediates the red-attraction relation in men viewing women. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. doi: 10.1016/j.jesp.2011.12.009


Why People Have Sex (“The Naked Man” Redux)

How many reasons can you think of for having sex? Some people may assume that there are relatively few motivations (for example: physical pleasure, intimacy, reproduction, sexual release), but psychologists Cindy Meston and David Buss have identified two-hundred and thirty-seven (237) distinct reasons for engaging in sexual activity (clustered in 4 broad categories). There isn’t enough room in this article to identify each of them, but we can certainly touch on some of the more surprising reasons people give. 

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The Third Date Rule: Fact or Fiction?

“This is our third date, and we both know what that means.”

“We do?”


On a classic episode of The Big Bang Theory, Howard learns about the third date rule – the idea that the third date is the “sex date,” the date when it is deemed appropriate for a new couple to have sex. Is this a dating rule that people take to heart (or to bed) or is it just another urban dating myth? 

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Playing with Sex Data: The Sexperience 1000

Admit it...You've probably had questions about others' sex lives. Now you can answer those questions based on data from a represetative sample of 1,000 people in the United Kingdom from "The Sexperience 1000" project. Have fun playing with their data!

Also see our article on OkCupid's creative use of data here.


Does That Count? Differing Definitions of Sex

A few weeks ago some friends and I were discussing the recent date of a male member of the group. He said that he did not have sex on his date. But, after he described the encounter (in which both he and his partner had an orgasm, but did not have intercourse) one of our friends disagreed with him and argued that sex did occur. So who’s right?

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Ask Dr. Loving: Can Our Relationship Survive His STD?

I have a friend who has been very forthcoming about his sexual experiences and how he was diagnosed with an STD when he was 20 years old. I am very attracted to him and although he has an STD, knowing that does not repulse or drive me away. But it does make me seriously consider, if I were ever to be with him in a relationship, would it work without sex?  -- trustingHim

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A Cookie a Day Keeps Impulsive Sexual Behavior at Bay

Suppose you’re at dinner with someone you just started dating. You’re reading the menu and you see a meal you would just love to have – in my case, it would be baby back ribs. You can almost taste how great those ribs will be, in all of their fall-off-the-bone glory. The server then passes right by you with the food for the table next to you, and wouldn’t you know it – they ordered ribs! But then you remember how messy ribs are to eat. And then you think about how disgusting you will look holding the bone and pulling the meat off like you’re an animal. What will your date think of you? So rather than indulge yourself, you instead order the beet salad.

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Are Romance Novels "Addictive"?

One of the things we like to do here at Science of Relationships is to let you know when we see relationship “mis-information” being pushed out there in media-land. Here’s a good one!

Recently, a major national newspaper contacted us for our views on an op-ed piece written by Kimberly Sayer-Giles, who recently was named one of the top 20 “Advice Gurus” by Good Morning America (ABC News). 

The article, Romance Novels Can Be As Addictive As Pornography, makes some profound claims and got a few of us lusting to answer back!

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