Based on the information you read in Carroll’s textbook, plus any other research you may conduct, who was/were the most important sex/sexuality researcher(s)? Explain your answer
Chapter 2: Understanding Human Sexuality: Theory and Research
THEORIES ABOUT SEXUALITY
The study of sexuality is multidisciplinary and includes psychologists, sexologists, biologists, theologians, physicians, sociologists, anthropologists, and philosophers.
A theory is a set of assumptions, principles, or methods that help a researcher understand the nature of the phenomenon being studied.
Psychoanalytic Theory, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
Human behavior is motivated by instincts and drives.
One of the two powerful drives is the libido, which is the life or sexual motivation.
Thanatos is the other most powerful drive, which is the death or aggressiveness motivation.
The second division of the personality contains the id, ego, and superego.
id—the collection of unconscious urges and desires that continually seeks expression.
ego—the part of the personality that mediates between environmental demands (reality), conscience (superego), and instinctual needs (id).
superego—the social and parental standards an individual has internalized; the conscience.
Psychoanalysis—allows the individual to bring unconscious thoughts into consciousness to help resolve a patient’s disorder.
Freud believed that our basic personality is formed by events that happen to us in the first six years of life.
Libido energy is directed to a different erogenous zone during each stage of development.
The first stage is the oral stage where the mouth, lips, and tongue are the erogenous zone. A fixation (tying up of psychic energies at one stage, resulting in adult behaviors characteristic of that stage) leads to dependency or aggression.
The second stage is the anal stage where the focus is on the anus. Anal fixation may include traits such as stubbornness, orderliness, or cleanliness.
The third and most important stage is the phallic stage where the genitals become the erogenous zone.
Oedipus complex—a male child’s incestuous sexual attraction for his mother and the consequent conflicts.
Electra complex—the incestuous desire of the daughter for sexual relations with the father.
The final stage of psychosexual development, the genital stage, begins at puberty. The focus becomes the genitals and the ability to engage in adult sexual behaviors is developed.
Freud’s theories were viewed as controversial in Victorian Vienna.
Children were sexual from birth.
Children lusted for the other-sex parent.
Modern psychologists claim his theories are unscientific and untestable.
Unflattering views of women
Behaviorists believe that it is necessary to observe and measure behavior in order to understand it.
Radical behaviorists such as B.F. Skinner endorse operant conditioning, where we learn behaviors through reinforcement and punishment.
Behavior modification—therapy based on operant conditioning and classical conditioning principles, used to change behaviors.
Aversion therapy—technique that reduces the frequency of a maladaptive behavior by associating it with real or imagined aversive stimuli during a conditioning procedure.
Social Learning Theory
Albert Bandura argued that external events, such as rewards and punishments, influence behavior, but so do internal events, such as feelings, thoughts, and beliefs.
Imitation and identification are important in the development of sexuality, as illustrated by the example of learning gender identity.
Thoughts and perceptions are responsible for behaviors.
The biggest sexual organ is between the ears.
Humanistic Theory (or person centered)
Humans all strive to develop to the best of their abilities and to become self-actualized.
Self actualization—the fulfillment of an individual’s personalities; the actualization of aptitudes, talents.
Becoming self-actualized is easier when children are raised with unconditional positive regard—accepting others unconditionally, without restrictions on their behaviors or thoughts.
Conditional love—accepting others conditionally, placing restrictions on their behaviors or thoughts.
The biological theory of human sexuality emphasizes that sexual behavior is primarily a biological process controlled physiologically through inborn, genetic patterns.
Evolutionary theory incorporates both evolution and sociology to understand sexual behavior.
Sexuality exists for the purpose of reproducing the species and successfully passing on one’s genes.
discrepancies between women and men in sexual desires and behaviors
criticism: evolutionary theorists tend to ignore the influence of both prior learning and societal influences on sexuality.
Sociologists examine how society influences sexual behavior through social norms and regulations.
Many institutions influence the rules a society holds about sexual expression.
Many feminist researchers attempt to redefine sexology, which has been constructed from a white, middle class, heterosexist, medical, and biological viewpoint.
Construction of sexuality is based on power leading to sexual gender inequality.
Support for collaborative or group research is often from a qualitative research perspective.
Developed in 1990s from lesbian and gay studies.
Support for a restructuring of sexuality away from heterosexism and homophobia and toward a deconstruction of categories of sex, gender, and desire.
SEXUALITY RESEARCH: PHILOSOPHERS, PHYSICIANS, AND SEXOLOGISTS
Hippocrates, Aristotle, and Plato—forefathers of sex researchers.They were the first to elaborate theories regarding sexual responses and dysfunctions, sex legislation, reproduction, contraception, and sexual ethics.
Early Sex Research
19th Century – Sex research began to focus on the different, dangerous, and unhealthy aspects of sexuality.
Victorian attitudes lead to stigma around conducting sex research.
Physicians were primary sexuality researchers.
Jewish Europeans conducted most of the early sexuality research connecting anti-sex views with anti-Semitism.
Sexuality research arrived in the United States.
Research took off in the 1920s as a response to the hygiene movement. Sexuality was viewed as a threat to children and society.
Funding was difficult for sexuality researchers to secure.
Recent Studies On Sexuality
20th Century – “Problem-driven” research
haslead to a focus on social concerns such as adolescent sexuality and HIV/AIDS
less attention paid to healthy or “typical” sexuality such as love and relationships
Much vocal opposition to sexuality research due to fears that research will cause individuals to act out sexually.
Sexuality research is multidisciplinary, which can be problematic due to decreased communication.
Sexologists are researchers, educators, and clinicians who specialize in sexuality and often work to prove themselves as legitimate scientists.
Many university programs in sexuality exist with the possibility that they will come together in the future as a separate discipline of sexual science.
Politics and Sex Research
Fear of promoting immorality threatened Kinsey’s work.
Changing roles of women, development of birth control pills, and Kinsey’s work led to less acceptance of the sexual double standard.
Iwan Bloch (1872-1922)
Berlin dermatologist who believed that historical and anthropological research could help broaden sexuality research.
Helped to form a medical society for sexology research in Berlin
Published the Journal of Sexology
Albert Moll (1862-1939)
Conservative man who countered the research of Freud and Hirschfeld
Formed the International Society for Sex Research
Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935)
His work with patients convinced him that negative attitudes toward homosexuals were inhumane, which inspired his dedication to the field of sexual problems.
Became an expert on homosexuality and other sexual variations
Opened the first Institute for Sexology, which contained libraries, laboratories, and lecture halls
His research was destroyed during WWII by the Nazis.
Richard von Krafft-Ebing (1840-1902)
One of the most significant medical writers on sexology in the late 19th century
Focused on “deviant” sexual behavior, writing a book, PsychopathiaSexualis, which focused on individuals who experienced what he considered sexual pathology.
Havelock Ellis (1859-1939)
English citizen who grew up in Victorian society
Published famous six-volume Studies in the Psychology of Sex
Established himself as an objective and nonjudgmental researcher
Clelia Mosher (1863-1940)
First researcher to ask Americans about their sexual behaviors
Her interest in helping married women have more satisfying sex lives lead her to interview upper-middle class women about whether they enjoyed sexual intercourse.
Her results, suggesting these women viewed intercourse as both for sexual pleasure and procreation, were never published.
Katharine Bement Davis (1861-1935)
Appointed superintendent of a prison and became interested in prostitution and sexually transmitted infections.
She believed that lesbianism was not pathological.
Her ideas that women might have sexual appetites equal to men’s lead male researchers to try to strengthen the family unit.
Alfred Kinsey (1894-1956)
Most influential sex researcher of the 20th century
Persevered continually despite controversy and stigma
Kinsey’s early work was atheoretical due to what he thought was the lack of previous knowledge on which to base theories.
Large-scale study of sexual life histories of 18,000 people through in-depth interviews
Concern about interviewer bias lead Kinsey to assure that only four people conducted all the interviews.
Rather than using probability sampling, he used what he called 100% sampling by interviewing everyone located in various groups and organizations.
Institute for Sex Research
Established in 1947 by Kinsey and his associates at Indiana University.
Kinsey published two bestsellers that helped to break down the myths and confusion surrounding sexuality.
The Sexual Behavior of the Human Male, 1948.
The Sexual Behavior of the Human Female, 1953.
He continued to face controversy that lead to the termination of several research grants.
In 1974 he published Sexual Behavior in the 1970s, commissioned by the Playboy Foundation.
Criticized due to low response rate of 20% and the random selection done by telephone
Not generalizable due to volunteer bias and telephone sample
William Masters and Virginia Johnson
The gynecologist and psychology researcher were the first modern scientists to observe and measure the act of sexual intercourse in the laboratory, beginning in 1954.
Dual sex-therapy team primarily interested in the anatomy and physiology of the sexual response.
First study: Human Sexual Response, 1966.
Began to recruit volunteers for financial reasons, personal reasons, and for the release of sexual tension.
They didn’t recruit a random sample because they felt that they were studying behaviors that happened to most people.
Instruments measured heart and muscle changes, including penile strain gauges and photoplethysmographs which measured penile erection and vaginal lubrication.
1970: Human Sexual Inadequacy discussed sexual dysfunction.
Overall research findings:
Multiple orgasms in women
Dual sexual dysfunction in couples
Refuted Freud’s theory of separate female orgasms, instead finding that all women need direct or indirect clitoral stimulation in order to have an orgasm.
Research Studies on Homosexuality
Much research exists but few wide-scale studies.
Studied male homosexuality in the 1950s
Demonstrated that there was little fundamental psychological difference between gay and straight men.
Research challenged the view that homosexuality was a mental illness.
Alan Bell and Martin Weinberg
Published Homosexualities, 1978.
Compared 5000 homosexual adults with 5000 heterosexual adults.
Findings refuted stereotypes: Gay men and lesbians do not push unwanted sexual advances onto people, they do not seduce children, and their intimate relationships were similar to heterosexual individuals.
Other Sexuality Studies
The Janus Report on Sexual Behavior
Published in 1993 by Samuel and Cynthia Janus.
3,000 questionnaires examined regional differences.
Criticisms included no random selection and the overestimation of sexual behaviors.
Americans in their sixties and seventies are experiencing greatly heightened levels of sexual activity.
Married couples reported the highest level of sexual activity and satisfaction.
Three out of five married people said their sex lives improved after marriage.
Areas in which people live influence overall sexual attitudes and behaviors: people who are ultra-conservative are more likely to be involved in frequent or ongoing extramarital affairs than are those who are ultra-liberal.
Men and women are both initiating sexual activity.
The National Health and Social Life Study, 1987
Due to HIV/AIDS crisis, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services called for large study of American adults.
After securing funding and plans to interview 20,000 people, funding was withdrawn in 1991 due to conservative politicians.
Private funding was secured, and the sample size reduced to 4,369 with a 79% response rate.
NHSLS was the most comprehensive study of sexual attitudes and behaviors since the Kinsey Report with much better sampling procedures.
Results suggested that Americans were more sexually conservative than previously thought.
The median number of sexual partners since the age of 18 was six for men and two for women.
75% of married men and 80% of married women do not engage in extramarital sexuality.
75% of men claimed to have consistent orgasms with their partners, while 29% of women did.
More than one in five women said they had been forced by a man to do something sexual.
Age-Specific Studies: Teens and Seniors
1970s classic study by Melvin Zelnik and John Kanter examined the sexual and contraceptive behavior of 15-19 year-old females.
1973: Robert Sorensen: Adolescent Sexuality in Contemporary America
Examined frequency of masturbation, sexual activity, and homosexual behavior.
Concerns with reliability due to many parents not permitting teenagers to participate.
1994: National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health completed by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Adolescents (grades 7-12) surveyed through interviews and questionnaires.
Four areas: emotional health, sexuality, violence, and substance use.
1988-1995: longitudinal study on adolescent males, National Survey of Adolescent Males (NSAM)
Face-to-face interviews with 6,500 adolescent males.
Areas covered included sexual contraceptive histories, attitudes about sexuality, contraception, and fatherhood.
Findings showed that a significant number of adolescent males engage in sexual activities beyond vaginal intercourse.
1981: Vernard Starr and Marcella Weiner explored the sexuality of 800 adults who were between the ages of 60 and 91 years
Questionnaire and low response rate may have over-represented seniors interested in sex.
50 open-ended questions about sexual experience, changes in sexuality that have occurred with age, sexual satisfaction, sex and widowhood, sexual interest, masturbation, orgasm, sex likes and dislikes, and intimacy.
Results showed that older adults continued to view sexuality as important as they aged.
1983: Edward Brecher: Love, Sex and Aging
Survey included questions on attitudes about sex, behaviors, and sexual concerns.
Results suggested that older adults were indeed sexual although society considered them nonsexual.
Current research on older adults supports previous research in that older adults are interested in sexuality, with a survey of adults over the age of 60 expressing that over half of them were sexually active.
SEX RESEARCH METHODS AND CONSIDERATIONS
Validity: whether or not a test or question measures what it is designed to measure.
Reliability: the consistency of the measure with repeated testing of the same group.
Case Study: exploring individual cases to formulate general hypotheses
Freud was known for this methodology.
Lack of generalizability.
Questionnaires vs. Interviews
Questionnaire or survey research is generally used to identify the attitudes, knowledge, or behavior of large samples.
Alfred Kinsey was known for this research methodology.
Interviews allow the researcher to establish a rapport with each subject and emphasize the importance of honesty in their study.
Interviews can be more time-consuming and expensive than questionnaires.
Questionnaires can provide more honesty due to the anonymity of a questionnaire.
Masters and Johnson used this type of methodology.
People were invited to engage in sexual activity in a laboratory while physiological changes were monitored.
Challenges include the difficulty of finding subjects, cost, and generalizability due to lack of a random sample.
The limitations include the lack of information on feelings, attitudes, or personal history.
This method involves researchers going into an environment and monitoring what is happening naturally.
Limitations include a lack of generalizability and access to private settings.
This is the only method that allows researchers to isolate cause and effect.
Requires random assignment, where subjects are assigned to groups with each subject having an equal chance of being assigned to each group.
The independent variable is manipulated by the researcher and applied to the subject to determine the effect on the dependent variable.
Often expensive and time-consuming.
May not replicate real-world situations.
Especially in some sexuality situations, may be unethical or impossible to replicate in the laboratory.
Often used when it’s not possible to conduct an experiment.
Example: study a given population to see if there is any correlation between past sexual abuse and later difficulties with intimate relationships.
The major limitation is that it doesn’t provide any information about cause.
PROBLEMS AND ISSUES IN SEX RESEARCH
Prior to a person’s participation in a study of sexuality, it is necessary to obtain informed consent, which means that the person knows what to expect from the questions and procedures, how the information will be used, and how confidentiality will be assured.
The importance of keeping all information and materials gathered during a research study reflects the concept of confidentiality.
College student volunteers for sexuality research were found to be more sexually liberal, more sexually experienced, more interested in sexual variety, more likely to have had sexual intercourse and performed oral sex, and report less traditional attitudes than non-volunteers.
Difficult to generalize.
Samples of convenience are typically college age samples that are convenient for researchers who work at universities.
Difficult to generalize.
Difficult to determine reliability with such a sensitive subject as sexuality.
Studies designed specifically for determining reliability of sexuality research.
Reporting of behavior may be affected by time and location.
SEXUALITY RESEARCH ACROSS CULTURES
Societies’ values and cultural influence on sexuality has been one of the topics sexuality researchers have studied the most.
Human Sexual Behavior, 1971: Donald Marshall and Robert Suggs’ classic anthropological study examined how sexuality was expressed in several different cultures.
1991 & 1992: Largest study done in France in 20 years examined the sexual practices of over 20,000 people between the ages of 18 and 69.
Telephone interviews with a response rate of 76.5%.
Many teenagers do not use condoms during sexual intercourse because they are too expensive.
Rates of extramarital sexual behavior are decreasing.
The average French heterosexual engages in sex approximately two times per week.
2001, results from ACSF and NHSLS found
The French formed monogamous sexual partnerships earlier and stayed in them longer than Americans.
French also had fewer sexual partners over their lifetime with higher frequencies of sexual behavior.
2007 Durex conducted a web survey of 26,000.
SEX RESEARCH IN THE FUTURE: BEYOND PROBLEM-DRIVEN RESEARCH
Several nationwide sexuality studies have been cancelled in recent years due to pressure from conservative politicians.