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November 1980

Female Sexual Response Patterns: Interactions of Physiological, Affective, and Contextual Cues

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, School of Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1980;37(11):1311-1316. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1980.01780240109013

• This study examined physiological, affective, and contextual components of female sexual responsiveness and satisfaction. Fifty-five women, aged 21 to 58, 27 of whom were married, participated in two psychophysiological laboratory sessions and completed a questionnaire. During each laboratory session, physiological and self-reported sexual arousal were measured in response to an erotic tape, film, and self-generated fantasies. Vaginal pulse amplitude responses showed married women to be less aroused to erotic materials during session 1 but not session 2. Self-reported sexual arousal was correlated with vaginal response only in the unmarried sample and only during the tape and film of session 1. Subjectively reported sexual arousal was also correlated with a constellation of positive affective states. Generally, negative correlations were found between vaginal response in the laboratory and reported sexual responsiveness at home. The patterning of the affective-physiological relationships suggests several interpretations with regard to female sexuality and models of human emotion.

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