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Enjoyment of sexual activities and attributions of enjoyment to the other gender.

Abstract: This study of heterosexually self-identified introductory psychology students sought to determine whether the sexes would differ in their self-ratings of enjoyment for various sexual activities, how they would attribute enjoyment of each activity to the other sex, and how accurate they would be in such attributions. The 197 female and 150 male participants (mean age 19.3 years) completed questionnaires that assessed self-enjoyment and attribution at·tri·bu·tion  
1. The act of attributing, especially the act of establishing a particular person as the creator of a work of art.

 of enjoyment to the other sex for each of 18 sexual activities. Results indicated that men rated most activities higher in enjoyment than women. However, correlational analyses suggested strong similarities between the sexes in the activities they rated most and least enjoyable. Their attributions of enjoyment to the other sex correlated cor·re·late  
v. cor·re·lat·ed, cor·re·lat·ing, cor·re·lates
1. To put or bring into causal, complementary, parallel, or reciprocal relation.

 significantly with their own ratings of enjoyment. Although difference score analyses found a statistically significant difference between men's and women's attributions of level of enjoyment and the other gender's self-reported level of enjoyment, the correlation analysis suggested that men and women were accurate in their attributions of the activities that the other gender would most and least enjoy.


A large number of studies on the topic of sexual communication have sought to investigate the relationship between communication and either sexual satisfaction or relationship satisfaction (e.g., Bridges, Lease, & Ellison, 2004; Larson, Anderson Anderson, river, Canada
Anderson, river, c.465 mi (750 km) long, rising in several lakes in N central Northwest Territories, Canada. It meanders north and west before receiving the Carnwath River and flowing north to Liverpool Bay, an arm of the Arctic
, Holman, & Niemann, 1998; Litzinger & Gordon, 2005). In general, the results have indicated that high levels of communication are positively associated with both sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction. MacNeil and Byers (1997) found that specific discussion about one's sexual likes and dislikes was associated with sexual satisfaction.

Despite such findings, research has also suggested that communication about sexual issues can be a problem for individuals in that there is very little such communication about sexual issues (Fisher, Miller, Byrne, & White, 1980) even among those in dating relationships (Byers & Demmons, 1999). In addition, individuals often engage in sexual behaviours with casual acquaintances, friends, or even strangers (Grello, Welsh, & Harper, 2006). In such cases, communication about sexual preferences is even more limited, or non-existent. For example, recent research on the topic of hooking up--typically defined as casual acquaintances or strangers who agree to engage in sexual behaviour--indicates that this phenomenon is increasingly popular on college campuses (e.g., Lambert Lambert may refer to
  • Lambert of Maastricht, bishop, saint, and martyr
  • Lambert Mieszkowic, son of Mieszko I of Poland
  • Lambert McKenna, Irish scholar, Editor and Lexicographer.
, Kahn, & Apple, 2003). Paul, McManus, and Hayes (2000) reported that nearly half of the students on the campus they studied had at least one hookup hookup,
n in the Trager method of therapy, the practitioner enters into a meditative state along with the patient, which allows him or her to work more intuitively and to feel subtle changes in the patient's movement and tissue texture.
 not including intercourse, while 30% had experienced one hookup including intercourse. Hookups do not typically involve explicit communication about which sexual behaviours will be engaged in (Kahn, Fricker, Hoffman, Lambert, Tripp, & Childress, 2000).

In situations such as hookups, as well as in relationships where sexual communication is lacking, people are more likely to be guided by their sexual scripts in that they think of what men or women in general would like or dislike rather than what a particular sexual partner would enjoy. At the individual level, a sexual script can be defined as a cognitive plan that organizes our behaviour (Gagnon, 1990). More specifically, Laumann, Gagnon, Michael, and Michaels (1994) used the term intrapsychic intrapsychic /in·tra·psy·chic/ (-si´kik) arising, occurring, or situated within the mind.

Existing or taking place within the mind or psyche.
 script to refer to the "organization of preferences for a variety of sexual acts and practices" (p. 148).

In this paper, we ask what happens then when individuals have limited or no information about a sexual partner's sexual likes and dislikes? What guides the sexual script? One possible answer comes from social psychological research on the false consensus effect (Ross, Greene, & House, 1977). According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 this effect, individuals have a tendency to assume that other people share their likes and dislikes to a greater degree than they actually do. A review of the literature on the false consensus effect (Marks & Miller, 1987) concluded that the tendency to perceive a false consensus for one's opinions and evaluations is well-established, and recent research has demonstrated the validity of this effect on such different topics as estimates of the prevalence of drug use (Wolfson, 2000), attributions about others' job characteristics (Oliver, Bakker, Demerouti, & DeJong, 2005), and attitudes about body shape (Muller, Williamson, & Martin, 2002). Others (Dawes & Mulford, 1996) have argued that although it is true that individuals seem to base their estimates about others' preferences on their own, their estimates may not always be "false" and could even lead to accurate judgments.

Another possibility is that individuals rely on common stereotypes, or what may be called cultural sexual scripts, about the sexuality of the other gender. For example, Garcia (1982; 1983) reported the well-defined sexual stereotype stereotype (stĕr`ĕətīp'), plate from which printing is done, made by casting metal in a mold, usually of paper pulp. The process was patented in 1725 by the Scottish inventor William Ged.  that men are more easily aroused than women (see also Basow, 1992). More recent evidence for such stereotypes is provided by Miller and Byers (2004) whose study of heterosexual heterosexual /het·ero·sex·u·al/ (-sek´shoo-al)
1. pertaining to, characteristic of, or directed toward the opposite sex.

2. one who is sexually attracted to persons of the opposite sex.
 couples found that individual estimates of their partner's ideal duration for intercourse and foreplay foreplay /fore·play/ (for´pla) the sexually stimulating play preceding intercourse.

The sexual stimulation that precedes intercourse.
 were influenced by cultural stereotypes about the sexuality of men and women.

Research questions

In the present study, we investigated people's expectations of the other gender's sexual likes and dislikes and the extent to which their expectations agreed with or differed from the other gender's actual likes and dislikes. The specific questions addressed were: (1) how much agreement is there between men and women in their likes and dislikes for specific sexual activities?; (2) what guides men and women in attributing enjoyment to each other?; and (3) how accurate are men and women in estimating the sexual likes and dislikes of each other? The research background to these questions is reviewed below.

There has been limited research on agreement between men and women in their preferences for various sexual activities. Cronbach (1955) defined agreement in terms of differences in the extent to which men and women express a liking for various activities (difference-score method), and also in terms of their rankings of various sexual activities (correlation method). These two methods yield two different measures of agreement, i.e., men and women could differ in their enjoyment of particular activities but their relative rankings of the activities they enjoy could be very similar.

Laumann et al. (1994) asked individuals to indicate how appealing they found a variety of sexual activities (but not what they thought others found appealing). In general, they found that men rated the sexual activities as more appealing than women did. Also, by looking at the percentage of men and women who rated the activities as "very appealing", it can be seen that men and women tended to agree on their ratings of the various activities. It should be noted, though, that the results could have been different depending on the level of specificity provided to the participants. For example, Laumann et al. (1994) listed "vaginal vag·i·nal
1. Of or relating to the vagina.

2. Relating to or resembling a sheath.


pertaining to the vagina, the tunica vaginalis testis, or to any sheath.
 intercourse" as one sexual activity, but they did not specify the various positions in which men and women can engage in this activity. It could be the case that men and women both agree in giving a relatively high rating to the activity of vaginal intercourse, but express more disagreement in rating the various positions of sexual intercourse sexual intercourse
 or coitus or copulation

Act in which the male reproductive organ enters the female reproductive tract (see reproductive system).

Purnine, Carey, and Jorgensen (1994) also looked at gender difference in preferences for sexual activities although their study did not include many specific sexual behaviours but focused more on the context of the sexual activities (e.g., having sex outdoors, have sex after a day at the beach), preferred use of contraception contraception: see birth control.

Birth control by prevention of conception or impregnation. The most common method is sterilization. The most effective temporary methods are nearly 99% effective if used consistently and correctly.
, and use of erotica/drugs/alcohol. Nevertheless, among the sexual activities they did include, the authors concluded that men preferred coital-genital activities more than women did. As with Laumann et al. (1994), this finding also indicated that men had a higher level of interest or enjoyment than women for a variety of sexual activities. There are some exceptions to this generalization gen·er·al·i·za·tion
1. The act or an instance of generalizing.

2. A principle, a statement, or an idea having general application.
. For example, in the case of oral-genital activities Laumann et al. reported that both men and women rated receiving more appealing than giving. It follows that women would rate an activity such as cunnilingus An act in which the female sexual organ is orally stimulated.

At Common Law, cunnilingus was not a crime. It is presently a crime in some jurisdictions and is usually treated as Sodomy.
 more appealing than would men. This raises the question of whether for some sexual acts (e.g., petting a female's breasts) being the recipient of the stimulation, as opposed to the giver, is the most important factor in rating the enjoyment of that activity.

As for the accuracy of the attributions of enjoyment by a partner, the previously mentioned literature on stereotypes or cultural scripts (e.g., Miller & Byers, 2004) suggests that men are assumed to enjoy sexual activity more than women. Thus, one would expect that participants would attribute to men a higher level of enjoyment than men would actually self-report whereas for women the opposite pattern would be found. However, the correlation method may yield a different finding because if men and women show agreement in their preferences for various sexual activities, and their attributions are related to their own preferences, then their attributions should show agreement.


The literature review led to the following hypotheses:

Hypothesis 1: Men would indicate a higher level of enjoyment than women, except for activities in which the woman is the recipient of the stimulation.

Hypothesis 2: There would be a significant amount of agreement between men and women in the activities they rated most and least enjoyable using the correlation method.

Hypothesis 3: When asked to rate their own enjoyment of specific sexual activities, as well as that of the other gender (attributions to others), there would be a significant correlation between individuals' own ratings and their attributions of enjoyment to the other gender.

Both of the remaining hypotheses addressed the issue of the accuracy of attributions. The question of accuracy can be examined by comparing the attributions that men and women make about each other with men and women's own ratings of the sexual activities. This question can also be analyzed an·a·lyze  
tr.v. an·a·lyzed, an·a·lyz·ing, an·a·lyz·es
1. To examine methodically by separating into parts and studying their interrelations.

2. Chemistry To make a chemical analysis of.

 using the difference-score method and the correlation method.

Hypothesis 4: Using the difference score method, we hypothesized that women would overestimate o·ver·es·ti·mate  
tr.v. o·ver·es·ti·mat·ed, o·ver·es·ti·mat·ing, o·ver·es·ti·mates
1. To estimate too highly.

2. To esteem too greatly.
 the amount of enjoyment that men report from sexual activities and men would underestimate the women's enjoyment.

Hypothesis 5: When analyzing the question of accuracy using the correlation method, however, we predicted that there would be significant agreement between the participants' attributions to the other gender and the other gender's self-reported enjoyment of the activities.



The participants in this study were 197 female and 150 male heterosexually self-identified students from Introduction to Psychology classes in an Eastern university who received partial credit for their participation. Since the study was described as being for heterosexual students, the 8 males and 3 females in the initial sample who self-identified as homosexual homosexual /ho·mo·sex·u·al/ (-sek´shoo-al)
1. pertaining to, characteristic of, or directed toward the same sex.

2. one who is sexually attracted to persons of the same sex.
, and the one female who self-identified as bisexual bisexual /bi·sex·u·al/ (-sek´shoo-al)
1. pertaining to or characterized by bisexuality.

2. an individual exhibiting bisexuality.

3. pertaining to or characterized by hermaphroditism.

, were not included in the analysis. This study was approved by the host university's institutional review board.


Previous questionnaires used to assess individuals' ratings of sexual activities (e.g., Laumann, et al., 1994) lacked the specificity need for the present study. The questionnaire used here was designed by inviting students in a course on the psychology of human sexuality This article is about human sexual perceptions. For information about sexual activities and practices, see Human sexual behavior.
Generally speaking, human sexuality is how people experience and express themselves as sexual beings.
 to list as many specific heterosexual acts as they could think of. Some responses were eliminated because they were too general (e.g., foreplay), or did not physically involve a partner (e.g., phone sex), or were only listed by one person and hence less common (e.g., "teabagging"). The final questionnaire listed 18 heterosexual activities as presented in the results.


At the end of a class period, participants were given a booklet with instructions, a sheet asking for personal background information, and three questionnaires, all to be completed at home and returned the next day. The instructions stated that participants would be completing three questionnaires dealing with human sexuality, that their responses were anonymous, and that they should thus feel free to reply with honesty Honesty
See also Righteousness, Virtuousness.


ancient Greek personification of truth. [Gk. Myth.: Zimmerman, 18]

Better Business Bureau

nationwide system of organizations investigating dishonest business practices. [Am.
. Ninety-eight percent of the students who received the material returned completed questionnaires.

The background information sheet asked participants to indicate their gender, marital status marital status,
n the legal standing of a person in regard to his or her marriage state.
, ethnicity ethnicity Vox populi Racial status–ie, African American, Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic , and sexual orientation sexual orientation
The direction of one's sexual interest toward members of the same, opposite, or both sexes, especially a direction seen to be dictated by physiologic rather than sociologic forces.
 (heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, not sure). The first questionnaire asked the participants to indicate whether or not they had ever engaged in each of 18 sexual activities and, if so, approximately how many times they had done so. The instructions also stated that the context for these activities was a heterosexual interaction. The second questionnaire asked participants to indicate on a 4-point Likert-type scale how much they enjoyed, or thought they would enjoy, engaging in each of these 18 sexual activities (1 = dislike very much, 2 = dislike, 3 = enjoy, and 4 = enjoy very much). The third questionnaire asked participants to indicate, on the same scale, how much they thought an average person of the other gender would enjoy engaging in each activity. The number of missing responses for each question ranged from 0 to 4 in a total sample of 347 participants. After participants submitted the questionnaires, they were given a debriefing de·brief·ing  
1. The act or process of debriefing or of being debriefed.

2. The information imparted during the process of being debriefed.

Noun 1.
 sheet describing the purpose of the study.

Data Analysis

The self-ratings of enjoyment for the 18 sexual activities for male and females participants were compared by computing computing - computer  the mean enjoyment rating for each activity and doing a t test for each activity. To determine the accuracy of attributions of enjoyment to the other gender using the difference-score method, we conducted t tests comparing male and females participants' attributions with the self-ratings of the other gender. To assess agreement between male and female participants in their self-ratings of enjoyment using the correlation method, we rank-ordered the mean self-ratings of each sex and conducted a Spearman spear·man  
A man, especially a soldier, armed with a spear.
 rank-order correlation between the two sets of ranks. Accuracy in predicting the rankings of enjoyment by the other gender was also analyzed by ranking the attributions of enjoyment to the other gender and the other gender's self-ratings and conducting a Spearman rank-order correlation.


Participant characteristics

Among the 347 participants, 197 were female and 150 male, mean age was 19.33 years (SD = 2.43) (range 18-39 years), and 60% identified themselves as white, 14% as African-American, 9% as Asian, 8% as Hispanic Hispanic Multiculture A person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race Social medicine Any of 17 major Latino subcultures, concentrated in California, Texas, Chicago, Miam, NY, and elsewhere , and 2% as "other." Almost all participants (97%) were single, 3% were married and one participant was widowed.

Experience of various sexual activities

The percentages of male and female participants who had ever engaged in each of the 18 sexual activities listed in the questionnaires are shown in Table 1. Experience across the activities ranged from 9-93% for males and 2-96% for females. Analysis of these data indicated that having engaged in a particular activity correlated significantly with self-ratings of enjoyment for that activity, but did not correlate with the participants' attributions of enjoyment to the other gender. In addition, the rankings (both self-ratings of enjoyment and attributions) were not influenced by the participants' level of sexual experience. As a result, further analyses of these data are not reported here.

Self-ratings of enjoyment

The mean self-ratings of enjoyment ranged widely among the 18 sexual activities (1.49-3.72 for men and 1.34-3.86 for women) with 14 of the 18 activities showing a significant gender difference (Table 2). Consistent with hypothesis 1, 12 of these 14 activities involved men rating the activity more enjoyable than did women. The two exceptions were "kissing" and "cunnilingus" for which women had higher enjoyment ratings than did men. The example of "cunnilingus" is consistent with our hypothesis that women would rate higher than men those sexual activities in which the woman was the recipient. However, the findings for "petting the woman's breasts" and "stimulating the clitoris clitoris /clit·o·ris/ (klit´ah-ris) the small, elongated, erectile body in the female, situated at the anterior angle of the rima pudendi and homologous with the penis in the male.

" did not fit that expectation. In relation to the rankings of the sexual activities for both sexes, our analysis showed a statistically significant correlation, r(16) = .60, p < .01, indicating a substantial degree of agreement between the men and women as to which activities they enjoyed the most and which activities they enjoyed the least. This finding is consistent with hypothesis 2.

Attributions of enjoyment to the other gender

A second question in this study concerned the extent to which attributions of enjoyment to the other gender would be associated with the participants' own ratings of enjoyment (false consensus effect). We predicted (hypothesis 3) that there would be a significant correlation between the participants' self-ratings and their attributions. To test this prediction, we correlated these two variables for each of the 18 activities, converted the correlations to zs, computed the average correlation, and tested for significance. For men, the average correlation was .37, p < .05, and for women the average correlation was .24, p < .05. So the prediction that participants' attributions of enjoyment to the other gender are related to their own self-rating was supported.

Although no predictions were made on this question, we used paired comparison t tests to compare the difference between the participants' own self-ratings and their attributions to the other sex. For men, there was a significant mean difference between their self-ratings and their attributions in 14 of the 18 activities (see Table 2). In nine of these, their attributions to women were lower than the men's own self-ratings. The five activities in which they attributed higher enjoyment to women were: kissing, stimulating the clitoris, being lightly spanked/tied up, sexual activity between two men and a woman, and cunnilingus. For women, there was a significant difference between their self-ratings and their attributions on 15 of the 18 activities, and for 14 of these 15 activities (kissing being the exception); women's attributions to men were higher than women's own self-ratings.

Accuracy of attributions of enjoyment

Finally, we examined the question of accuracy of participants' attributions of enjoyment to the other sex in terms of mean differences in enjoyment (hypothesis 4) and rankings (hypothesis 5). An analysis of means differences showed that in 13 of the 18 activities there was a significant mean difference, and that in all 13 men attributed more enjoyment to women than the women themselves reported (see Table 2). Comparing women's attributions to men's self-ratings, we found that there was a significant difference in only eight of the activities and in all eight women attributed a higher level of enjoyment to men than the men reported for themselves.

We also inferred accuracy of attribution by rank ordering male and female participants' attributions of enjoyment to the other sex for each of the activities and assessing the correlation with our ranking of self-reported enjoyment for each sex. The results indicated that there was a near perfect correlation between the men's attributions and women's self-ratings, r(16) = .92, p < .01, and between the women's attributions and the men's self-ratings, r(16) = .90, p < .01.


Very little research has been conducted on gender differences in the enjoyment of various sexual activities and on how, and how accurately, each gender attributes enjoyment to the other. In order to determine the extent to which men and women differed in their enjoyment of various sexual activities, we compared the level of enjoyment that men and women indicated for each activity (difference score method). We also ranked ordered the enjoyment scores for each sexual activity to identify similarities (correlation method).

Difference score method

According to the difference-score method, there was substantial disagreement between men and women in their self-ratings of enjoyment. We predicted that, in general, men would rate the sexual activities higher on enjoyment than women, and this prediction was supported. Interestingly, the only intercourse position for which no gender difference was noted was the man-on-top position. Maybe, as suggested by Purnine et al. (1994), men are more erotophilic and thus more likely than women to prefer activities that differ from the norm. This is also consistent with the finding that, in general, men tend to have more permissive permissive adj. 1) referring to any act which is allowed by court order, legal procedure, or agreement. 2) tolerant or allowing of others' behavior, suggesting contrary to others' standards.

 attitudes towards a variety of different sexual behaviours (Hyde, 2005). Although attitudes and enjoyment are not the same, they are related.

We also predicted that women would rate the activities in which they were the recipient of sexual stimulation Sexual stimulation is any stimulus that leads to sexual arousal or orgasm. The term often implies stimulation of the genitals but may also include stimulation of other areas of the body, stimulation of the senses (such as sight or hearing), and mental stimulation (such as that  higher than the men, and this pattern was found for cunnilingus. The finding that men and women prefer to be the recipient of oral-sexual activity is understandable and has been reported previously in the literature (e.g., Laumann et al., 1994; Purnine et al., 1994). With the activities "petting a woman's breasts" and "stimulation of the clitoris", the findings were not as predicted, but it was not the women's ratings that were contrary to our predictions. Women, as one would expect, rated these two activities fairly high in terms of enjoyment, but the men also rated these very high, and even higher in the case of petting a woman's breasts. This could be due to the erotic erotic /erot·ic/ (e-rot´ik)
1. charged with sexual feeling.

2. pertaining to sexual desire.

1. Of or concerning sexual love and desire.
 value that a woman's breasts holds for many men, especially since petting the breasts may also mean visualizing visualizing,
v 1., holding an image in one's mind.
2., forming an image of a goal or destination in one's mind before undertaking it, so as to facilitate success.
 the woman's breasts (Furnham, Hester, & Weir, 1990; Mazur, 1986). There were two other activities in which no gender difference was found (being spanked/tied up, and sexual activity with two men and one woman). These were the two lowest rated activities indicating a possible floor effect.

Correlation method

In terms of the correlation method, we found, as predicted, substantial agreement between men and women in terms of their most and least enjoyed activities. While the sexes differed in their ratings of level of enjoyment, they agreed significantly in relation to the activities they enjoyed most and least. Had we eliminated the two obvious activities (fellatio A sexual act in which a male places his penis into the mouth of another person.

At Common Law, fellatio was considered a crime against nature. It was classified as a felony and punishable by imprisonment and/or death.
 and cunnilingus) on which one might expect men and women to differ significantly, the level of agreement would have been even stronger. These findings suggest that even if there was little communication between partners about sexual likes or dislikes, men and women, in general, are likely to be fairly accurate in their guesses as to what the other gender likes. Of course, for any one single couple this may not be the case.

In seeking to determine whether there was a correspondence between participants' own self-rating of enjoyment and their attributions to the other gender, we were conscious of the false consensus effect, i.e., the tendency of individuals to rely on their own preferences when making estimates of others' preferences and presumption A conclusion made as to the existence or nonexistence of a fact that must be drawn from other evidence that is admitted and proven to be true. A Rule of Law.

If certain facts are established, a judge or jury must assume another fact that the law recognizes as a logical
 that doing so is likely to lead to inaccurate judgments. Our study found some correlation between participants' self-ratings of enjoyment and their attributions of enjoyment to the other sex, consistent with a "consensus effect", but also that such attributions did not result in inaccurate estimates about other gender's preferences. Dawes and Mulford (1996) also contended that relying on one's own preferences when making attributions does not lead to inaccurate judgments. Our findings on attribution of enjoyment in relation to different sexual activities suggest that relying on one's own preference increased the accuracy of prediction. However, the correlation we found was relatively low suggesting that using one's own enjoyment as a guide to that of the other sex may be a weak predictor and that other factors are involved.

Another possible interpretation of the correlation between participants' own ratings and their attributions to the other gender is that men's and women's self-ratings of enjoyment are to some extent influenced by their beliefs about what is enjoyable to the other gender. That is, knowing (or believing) that the other gender finds a particular activity enjoyable may lead one to rate that activity as more enjoyable. Because of the correlational nature of the present study, it is impossible to determine which interpretation is correct. Future studies where the enjoyment of the opposite sex is manipulated experimentally should be done to examine this question.

With respect to participants' accuracy of attribution, we found a striking difference when examining this issue using the difference score method versus the correlation method. In looking at difference scores, we found that both genders, but men to a greater extent than women, over attributed enjoyment to the other gender. The sexual stereotypes literature (e.g., Garcia 1982; Miller & Byers, 2004) would not predict this finding (although consistent with sexual stereotypes, women attributed more enjoyment to the men than the other way around). Why would men's attributions be higher than the women's self-ratings? This may be a byproduct by·prod·uct or by-prod·uct  
1. Something produced in the making of something else.

2. A secondary result; a side effect.

Noun 1.
 of participants relying on their own enjoyment when making attributions. If men report greater enjoyment than women for most of the activities, and if their attributions were associated with their self-ratings, then it follows that their attributions to the women would be relatively high. Similarly, this could explain why the women were less likely than the men to over-attribute enjoyment, i.e., because their own self-ratings of enjoyment were lower.

More important, we think, were the nearly perfect correlations between the participants' attributions and the actual enjoyment reported by the other gender; both men and women accurately predicted what activities the other gender found most and least enjoyable. It should be noted, however, that participants were asked to make attributions about the "average" man or woman, whereas people engage in sexual activity with individuals who may not represent the average. We chose to ask participants to make attributions to a generalized other The generalized other is a concept used in the social sciences, especially in a field called symbolic interactionism. It is the general notion that a person has of the common expectations that others have about actions and thoughts within a particular society.  because in situations where there is no specific knowledge of an individual partner's sexual likes and dislikes, sexual scripts are likely to be guided by notions of what men or women in general enjoy. The finding of a high degree of agreement is important because it shows that even without communication, individuals are likely to accurately guess their sexual partner's likes and dislikes.

Limitations of the study

The present study used a convenience sample of young, heterosexual, unmarried university students and may not generalize generalize /gen·er·al·ize/ (-iz)
1. to spread throughout the body, as when local disease becomes systemic.

2. to form a general principle; to reason inductively.
 to other groups. The classroom setting in which the questionnaires were completed was not a suitably controlled environment. Although a number of sexuality studies are now being conducted through Internet Internet

Publicly accessible computer network connecting many smaller networks from around the world. It grew out of a U.S. Defense Department program called ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), established in 1969 with connections between computers at the
 sites (e.g., Marelich, Lundquist, Painter, & Mechanic, 2008) that are also not controlled environments, it is an issue that should be addressed empirically. Furthermore, in examining self-reported enjoyment of the 18 sexual activities and attributions of enjoyment to the other sex, we combined the data from participants who had ever engaged in the activity with those who had not and thus were asked to speculate. The responses of these two groups may be influenced by different variables. Future research should also investigate the questions addressed in this study with a gay/lesbian sample. Would one find an even stronger association between self-ratings and attributions of enjoyment if same-sex partners are more likely to rely on their own enjoyment when making attributions about someone of the same gender? In terms of accuracy of attribution, it may be impossible to obtain higher correlations with a gay/lesbian sample than we found with the present heterosexual sample. However, in examining agreement using the difference-score method, one should reasonably expect a higher degree of agreement in gay/lesbian sample than in a heterosexual sample.

Another issue that should be explored in future studies is the participants' own sexual experience. In this study, we noted that there was no relationship between having engaged in the various sexual activities and the attributions to the other gender. There are other ways, though, of defining sexual experience. Perhaps measuring with how many different individuals a participant has engaged in sexual activities may yield results different from ours. Having engaged in sexual activities with many different people may give someone a different perspective on how much other individuals, in general, enjoy engaging in various sexual activities. Finally, this study examined the questions of accuracy of attribution by asking participants to make attributions about the average person of the opposite gender. An important next step would be to examine this question in a sample of couples in a relationship in order to assess accuracy of attribution in this context and to determine whether accuracy is related to satisfaction in the relationship.


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Excessively confident; presumptuous.

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Luis T. Garcia (1), Carlos Cavalie (2), Laura Goins (2), and Erica King (2)

(1) Rutgers University Rutgers University, main campus at New Brunswick, N.J.; land-grant and state supported; coeducational except for Douglass College; chartered 1766 as Queen's College, opened 1771. Campuses and Facilities

Rutgers maintains three campuses.
, Department of Psychology, Camden College Camden College is the name of several colleges.
  • Camden College (Congregational church school), Glebe, New South Wales, a former school and theological college
  • Camden College (fictional college), a fictional liberal arts college based on Bennington College
, Camden, NJ

(2) Rutgers University, Camden College student

Correspondence regarding this paper should be addressed to Dr. Luis Garcia, Department of Psychology, Rutgers University, Camden College, Camden, NJ, USA. E-mail:
Table 1 Percentage of male and female participants who had ever
engaged in various sexual activities

Sexual Activities         Sexual Activities
Male Participants         Female Participants       Men   Women

Kissing                   Kissing                    93      96
Sexual intercourse,       Sexual intercourse,        69      73
  man on top                man on top
Sexual intercourse,       Sexual intercourse,        66      67
  woman on top              woman on top
  facing man                facing man
Sexual intercourse,       Sexual intercourse,        45      49
  side-by-side facing       side-by-side facing
   each other                each other
Vaginal intercourse,      Vaginal intercourse,       59      64
  rear entry                rear entry
Sexual intercourse,       Sexual intercourse,        56      54
  woman on top facing       woman on top facing
  away from man             away   from man
Anal intercourse          Anal intercourse           31      25
Receiving fellatio        Performing fellatio        73      72
Performing cunnilingus    Receiving cunnilingus      69      73
Have a female fondle      Fondle a male's            80      76
  your genitals             genitals
Manually stimulating      Having a male stimulate
  a female's clitoris       your clitoris            80      81
Petting/kissing a         Having a man petting/      88      89
  woman's breasts           kissing your breasts
Being masturbated         Masturbated a male         78      73
  by a female
"Sixty-nine" (mutual      "Sixty-nine" (mutual       48      55
  oral stimulation          oral stimulation
  of genitals)              of genitals)
Threesome, two men        Threesome, two men          9       3
  and one woman             and one woman
Threesome, two            Threesome, two             14       2
  women and one man         women and one man
"Mild" S&M activities     "Mild" S&M activities      25      21
  (tying up or lightly      (tying up or lightly
  spanking a female)        spanking a male)
"Mild" S&M activities     "Mild" S&M activities      21      28
  (being tied up or          (being tied up or
  lightly spanked)          lightly spanked)

Table 2 Mean self-ratings and attributions (SD) of enjoyment
of sexual activities


Activities                   Enjoyment               Attribution

Kissing                 [3.63.sub.a] (0.62)     [3.77.sub.b] (0.48)
Sexual intercourse,     [3.60.sub.a] (0.71)     [3.58.sub.a] (0.62)
  man on top
Sexual intercourse,     [3.72.sub.a] (0.57)     [3.48.sub.b] (0.73)
  woman on top
  facing man
Sexual intercourse,     [3.22.sub.a] (0.80)     [3.32.sub.a] (0.71)
  facing each other
Vaginal intercourse,    [3.67.sub.a] (0.68)     [3.37.sub.b] (0.77)
  rear entry
Sexual intercourse,     [3.55.sub.a] (0.76)     [3.20.sub.b] (0.88)
  woman on top
  facing away from
Anal intercourse        [2.77.sub.a] (1.09)     [1.91.sub.b] (0.94)
Fellatio                [3.64.sub.a] (0.71)     [2.66.sub.b] (0.89)
Cunnilingus             [2.93.sub.a] (0.98)     [3.60.sub.b] (0.75)
Fondle male             [3.45.sub.a] (0.76)     [2.67.sub.b] (0.85)
Stimulate clitoris      [3.18.sub.a] (0.74)     [3.63.sub.b] (0.66)
Petting female          [3.54.sub.a] (0.65)     [3.26.sub.b] (0.69)
Masturbate male         [3.43.sub.a] (0.73)     [2.54.sub.b] (0.81)
Sixty-nine              [3.08.sub.a] (0.96)     [3.11.sub.a] (0.77)
Threesome, two men      [] (0.84)    [2.59.sub.b] (1.15)
  and one woman
Threesome, two          [3.35.sub.a] (1.02)     [2.28.sub.b] (0.93)
  women and one man
Mild S&M, spanking      [2.27.sub.a] (1.12)     [2.15.sub.a] (0.96)
  or tying up partner
Mild S&M, being         [2.03.sub.a] (1.00)     [2.43.sub.b] (0.88)
  spanked or tied up


Activities                   Enjoyment               Attribution

Kissing                 [3.86.sub.b] (0.48)     [] (0.66)
Sexual intercourse,     [3.55.sub.a] (0.76)     [3.63.sub.a] (0.53)
  man on top
Sexual intercourse,     [3.30.sub.c] (0.91)     [3.81.sub.a] (0.53)
  woman on top
  facing man
Sexual intercourse,     [2.85.sub.b] (0.96)     [] (0.76)
  facing each other
Vaginal intercourse,    [3.03.sub.c] (0.96)     [3.78.sub.a] (0.50)
  rear entry
Sexual intercourse,     [2.76.sub.c] (1.03)     [3.66.sub.a] (0.60)
  woman on top
  facing away from
Anal intercourse        [1.38.sub.c] (0.73)     [3.01.sub.d] (1.05)
Fellatio                [2.45.sub.c] (1.05)     [3.84.sub.d] (0.50)
Cunnilingus             [3.19.sub.c] (1.08)     [] (0.84)
Fondle male             [2.62.sub.b] (0.94)     [3.74.sub.c] (0.56)
Stimulate clitoris      [3.31.sub.a] (0.97)     [3.18.sub.a] (0.76)
Petting female          [3.30.sub.b] (0.78)     [] (0.55)
Masturbate male         [2.52.sub.b] (0.90)     [3.62.sub.c] (0.76)
Sixty-nine              [2.48.sub.b] (1.09)     [3.56.sub.d] (0.66)
Threesome, two men      [1.34.sub.c] (0.70)     [1.61.sub.a] (0.99)
  and one woman
Threesome, two          [1.39.sub.c] (0.79)     [3.58.sub.d] (0.90)
  women and one man
Mild S&M, spanking      [1.79.sub.b] (0.97)     [2.70.sub.d] (1.06)
  or tying up partner
Mild S&M, being         [2.10.sub.a] (1.04)     [2.78.sub.c] (1.03)
  spanked or tied up

Note: Means with one common subscript are not significantly
different at p < .05
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Author:Garcia, Luis T.; Cavalie, Carlos; Goins, Laura; King, Erica
Publication:The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Dec 22, 2008
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