Such a tease: intentional sexual provocation within heterosexual interactions

Arch Sex Behav. 2007 Aug;36(4):531-42. doi: 10.1007/s10508-006-9167-7. Epub 2007 Mar 6.


Sexual teasing is a form of provocation characterized by the promise of sexual contact followed by withdrawal. The intention is to frustrate or cause tension in the target and incorporates some use of power of one person over another. To date, this form of interaction between individuals has received little research attention. A total of 742 undergraduate university students (143 men, 599 women) provided reports regarding whether they had ever engaged in sexual teasing and, for those who had, the motives behind this behavior, the type of relationship and sexual history with the target, and the reactions and outcomes associated with these interactions. Sexual teasing was relatively common among both women and men, although women were significantly more likely to report having engaged in sexual teasing at least once in the past. The outcomes associated with their interactions were perceived to be more positive for participants (elicitors) than for their targets, although relatively few participants reported more adverse outcomes from the use of sexual teasing. Discussion focused on the need to better characterize forms of communication regarding sexual intentions and consent. The findings may have implications for efforts to improve models of communication and negotiation in sexual interactions.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Coitus / psychology*
  • Female
  • Heterosexuality / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Perception
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Texas