The pleasures of sex: An empirical investigation

Authors: Pinkerton, Steven1; Cecil, Heather2; Bogart, Laura3; Abramson, Paul4

Source: Cognition and Emotion, 1 January 2003, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 341-353(13)


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This study examined associations between the pleasurability of various sexual activities and behavioural experience with these activities. Participants were 145 female and 78 male undergraduates. Participants rated the pleasurability of various sexual activities (vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse, receiving oral sex, performing oral sex, masturbation by a partner, and self-masturbation) and answered questions about their experience with these sexual activities. Vaginal intercourse, receiving oral sex, and being masturbated by a partner received the highest ,pleasure ratings. For behaviours other than vaginal intercourse and receiving oral sex, pleasure ratings were significantly higher among respondents who had engaged in the activity. Pleasure ratings for several different sexual behaviours were intercorrelated. Participants who scored high on a pleasure index were more sexually experienced, engaged in more frequent sexual activity, and reported having more sex partners. Results are interpreted within the context of an evolutionary theory which suggests that pleasure motivates sexual behaviour.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI, USA 2: University of Alabama, Birmingham, AL, USA 3: Kent State University, Kent, OH, USA 4: University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2003

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