Gender and sexual orientation differences in sexual response to sexual activities versus gender of actors in sexual films

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2007 Dec;93(6):1108-21. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.93.6.1108.


In this study, the authors investigated the hypothesis that women's sexual orientation and sexual responses in the laboratory correlate less highly than do men's because women respond primarily to the sexual activities performed by actors, whereas men respond primarily to the gender of the actors. The participants were 20 homosexual women, 27 heterosexual women, 17 homosexual men, and 27 heterosexual men. The videotaped stimuli included men and women engaging in same-sex intercourse, solitary masturbation, or nude exercise (no sexual activity); human male-female copulation; and animal (bonobo chimpanzee or Pan paniscus) copulation. Genital and subjective sexual arousal were continuously recorded. The genital responses of both sexes were weakest to nude exercise and strongest to intercourse. As predicted, however, actor gender was more important for men than for women, and the level of sexual activity was more important for women than for men. Consistent with this result, women responded genitally to bonobo copulation, whereas men did not. An unexpected result was that homosexual women responded more to nude female targets exercising and masturbating than to nude male targets, whereas heterosexual women responded about the same to both sexes at each activity level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motion Pictures*
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Social Perception*