This project benefits from a PhD Scholarship that is funded by the ESRC via SENSS 2021-2025 with support from EEPRU.
Most women tend to show similar arousal to both men and women, regardless of their self-described sexual orientation. It is unclear why this is the case. We will look into the possibility of a biological explanation and whether it is a matter of character.
Firstly, the project will assess a prominent hypothesis that states that women respond to all sexual stimuli with arousal, and then lubrication, to protect women from genital injury. Since lubrication has rarely been investigated, however, we are one of the first to actually test this hypothesis.
Secondly, we will investigate whether sex differences in arousal could be attributed to sex differences in empathy or sexual competition. As women have a greater empathy compared to men, they may be more likely to share the emotional state of females shown in sexual videos and experience the sexual arousal with them.
Moreover, women, more than men, depend on their physical appeal when competing for mates, and are therefore more distressed by physically attractive rivals. Thus, women may be aroused from stress by viewing attractive rivals in sexual videos, and this stress coincidentally triggers physiological sexual arousal.
- Raines J, Holmes L, Watts-Overall TM, Slettevold E, Gruia DC, Orbell S, Rieger G. (2021). Patterns of Genital Sexual Arousal in Transgender Men. Psychological Science 2021 Apr;32(4):485-495. doi: 10.1177/0956797620971654. Epub 2021 Feb 26. PMID: 33635743.
- Watts, T.M., Holmes, L., Raines, J., Orbell, S., Rieger, G. (2018). Sexual Arousal Patterns of Identical Twins with Discordant Sexual Orientations. Scientific Reports, 8, 14970.