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Women’s Sexual Responses to Heterosexual and Lesbian Erotica: The Role of Stimulus Intensity, Affective Reaction, and Sexual History

Peterson, Zoë ; Janssen, Erick ; Laan, Ellen

Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2010, Vol.39(4), pp.880-897 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

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  • Title:
    Women’s Sexual Responses to Heterosexual and Lesbian Erotica: The Role of Stimulus Intensity, Affective Reaction, and Sexual History
  • Author/Creator: Peterson, Zoë ; Janssen, Erick ; Laan, Ellen
  • Language: English
  • Subjects: Sexual orientation ; Sexual identity ; Sexual arousal ; Affect ; Vaginal photoplethysmography ; Psychophysiology
  • Is Part Of: Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2010, Vol.39(4), pp.880-897
  • Description: Past research has demonstrated that women do not show a “category-specific” genital response to erotic stimuli. That is, on average, heterosexual and lesbian women are indistinguishable in terms of their physiological genital responses to heterosexual versus lesbian erotica. In two studies with heterosexual women ( n  = 28 for Study 1; n  = 30 for Study 2) and lesbians ( n  = 24 for Study 1; n  = 25 for Study 2), results confirmed that, on average, women did not show category-specific genital responses or category-specific subjective sexual arousal. However, there was evidence of notable within-group variability; many women did respond to the stimuli in a category-specific manner. Heterosexual women were more likely than lesbian women to demonstrate category-specificity. Findings also revealed that category-specificity was associated with multiple factors, including affective responses to the erotic stimuli and sexual history. Results of this study highlight the complexity of women’s sexual identities and sexual responses.
  • Identifier: ISSN: 0004-0002 ; E-ISSN: 1573-2800 ; DOI: 10.1007/s10508-009-9546-y