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Janssen, E., Carpenter, D., & Graham, C.A. (2003). Selecting films for sex research: Gender differences in erotic film preference. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 32, 243-251.

Film dips extracted from commercially available sexually explicit videos are commonly used in research on psychophysiological aspects of sexual arousal and sexual dysfunction. Previous research has found that men and women tend to differ in their responses to sexually explicit films. While men generally have reported greater subjective arousal to sexually explicit films, women's responses vary depending on the nature of the material. For example, in previous studies, women have reported greater arousal to material depicting female-initiated, female-focused sexual activity. The objective of the Janssen, Carpenter, and Graham study was to examine gender differences in sexual responsiveness to sexually explicit films and to identify variables that that influence sexual arousal in men and women.

The study participants were 15 men (mean age = 25.6 years) and 17 women (mean age = 24.0 years) recruited from undergraduate and graduate university classes. To select film clips for the study, a team of male and female graduate students from The Kinsey Institute for Research Sex, Gender and Reproduction screened adult films to select film clips that they personally found to be highly sexually arousing. Seven clips chosen by the women and seven clips chosen by the men plus six other clips (3 male oriented, 3 female oriented) recommended by researchers were included in the study. Each clip was then edited down to 3 minutes (1 minute each of kissing and petting, oral sex, and vaginal intercourse). These 20 clips were then shown in random order to the study participants in private viewing booths. The respondents rated each clip using a 10-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (not at all) to 10 (very strongly) on 13 dimensions: the attractiveness of the male and female actors; how sexually arousing, interesting, repulsive they found the clips; to what extent they imagined themselves as a participant and/or as an observer; how much they identified with the male and/or female actors; how much attention they paid to the actors; and how much they liked the setting and sound track.

Overall, men found the clips to be significantly more sexually arousing than did the women (6.1 vs. 4.1). However, the difference in men's and women's sexual arousal ratings for the female-selected clips was not statistically significant (5.6 vs. 4.4), whereas there was a significant difference in the men's and women's ratings of the male-selected clips (6.6 vs. 3.9). Women found the female-selected clips to be significantly more arousing than the male-selected clips. However, there were some exceptions. For example, for women, the second highest arousal rating was for a clip that was selected by men. In general, though, men and women tended to find clips selected by their own gender to be more arousing. "Although, on average, men responded more strongly to the 20 clips, approximately one-third of the women (35%) responded more strongly on average to all clips than one-third of men (33%)" (p. 248). Cluster regression analysis indicated that for men, sexual arousal was dependent on the attractiveness of the female actor, feeling interested, imagining oneself as a participant, and watching as an observer. For women, only imagining oneself as a participant contributed to sexual arousal ratings.

From their findings, the authors conclude that for selecting film clips for sexuality research, if the objective is to maximize sexual arousal responses in both men and women, then it is preferable to have participants view clips selected by their own gender. If, however, the goal is to induce similar levels of sexual arousal in men and women, it is preferable to show both sex's clips selected by women since the findings suggest that gender differences in response to female-selected clips are less likely to be significant.
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Title Annotation:Sex Research Update
Author:McKay, Alexander
Publication:The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2002
Words:615
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