What kind of erotic film clips should we use in female sex research? An exploratory study

J Sex Med. 2008 Jan;5(1):146-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2007.00641.x. Epub 2007 Oct 23.


Introduction: Erotic film clips are used in sex research, including studies of female sexual dysfunction and arousal. However, little is known about which clips optimize female sexual response. Furthermore, their use is not well standardized.

Aims: To identify the types of film clips that are most mentally appealing and physically arousing to women for use in future sexual function and dysfunction studies; to explore the relationship between mental appeal and reported physical arousal; to characterize the content of the films that were found to be the most and least appealing and arousing.

Methods: Twenty-one women viewed 90 segments of erotic film clips. They rated how (i) mentally appealing and (ii) how physically aroused they were by each clip. The data were analyzed by descriptive statistics. The means of the mental and self-reported physical responses were calculated to determine the most and least appealing/arousing film clips. Pearson correlations were calculated to assess the relationship between mental appeal and reported physical arousal.

Main outcome measures: Self-reported mental and physical arousal.

Results: Of 90 film clips, 18 were identified as the most mentally appealing and physically arousing while nine were identified as the least mentally appealing and physically arousing. The level of mental appeal positively correlated with the level of perceived physical arousal in both categories (r = 0.61, P < 0.05 and r = 0.62, P < 0.05). The most appealing and physically arousing films tended to exhibit heterosexual behavior with vaginal intercourse. The least appealing and least physically arousing films tended to depict male homosexual behavior, fellatio, and anal intercourse.

Conclusions: Erotic film clips reliably produced a state of self-reported arousal in women. The most appealing and arousing films tended to depict heterosexual vaginal intercourse. Film clips with these attributes should be used in future research of sexual function and response of women.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Erotica*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Libido*
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Motion Pictures*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design / standards*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Visual Perception*
  • Women's Health