Category Specificity and Prepotent Sexual Cues

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Timmers, Amanda
Category specificity , Sexual orientation , Psychophysiology , Arousal
Marked differences have been found in men’s and women’s sexual response patterns, contingent upon their sexual orientation; opposite- and same-gender attracted men demonstrate greatest genital and self-reported arousal to their preferred stimulus type, whereas other-gender attracted women do not, and findings of same-gender attracted women have been mixed (e.g., Chivers, Seto & Blanchard, 2007; Chivers, Bouchard, Timmers, & Haberl, 2012). Given the complex nature of sexual stimuli that are used in research paradigms involving category-specificity of sexual arousal, however, it is often unclear to what extent contextual cues (cues other than the sexual actor’s sex characteristics; body movement, level of sexual activity, etc.) influence participants’ sexual response patterns. As such, the current study attempted to parse contextual cues from sexual stimuli and examined genital, self-reported, and continuous self-reported responses of same- and other-gender attracted men and women to prepotent sexual features (stimuli believed to elicit automatic sexual arousal: erect penises and vasoengorged vulvas), nonprepotent sexual features (flaccid penises and pubic triangles) and neutral stimuli (clothed men and women). All samples were found to exhibit a category-specific pattern of genital, self-reported, and continuous self-reported sexual arousal. Similarly, genital, self-reported, and continuous self-reported arousal was generally found to be greatest to “prepotent” sexual conditions. Limitations and implications are discussed.
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