Is sexual concordance related to awareness of physiological states?

Arch Sex Behav. 2012 Feb;41(1):199-208. doi: 10.1007/s10508-012-9931-9.


Sexual concordance refers to the degree to which two aspects of human sexual arousal (genital response and self-reported sexual arousal) correspond with each other. Researchers have consistently reported a sex difference in sexual concordance: The relationship between genital responses and reported feelings of sexual arousal in men is positive and large, whereas the relationship in women is positive but much smaller than that seen in men. The study of interoception--people's awareness of their physiological states--reveals a similar sex difference: Men are more aware of a variety of (non-genital) responses (e.g., heart rate) than women in the laboratory. The purpose of the current study was to investigate whether the sex difference in sexual concordance was related to a broader sex difference in interoception. Twenty men and 20 women were presented with twelve 90 s sexual and non-sexual film clips while their genital responses, heart rate, and respiration rate were measured. Participants also estimated their physiological responses. As expected, men were significantly more sexually concordant than women. Men were also significantly more aware of their heart rate, but there was no significant sex difference in respiration rate awareness. Sexual concordance was not significantly correlated with either heart rate or respiration rate awareness. The results suggest that the sex difference in sexual concordance may be a unique phenomenon, separate from general awareness of physiological states.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Awareness / physiology*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Libido / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Penis / blood supply
  • Plethysmography
  • Respiratory Rate / physiology*
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology*
  • Vagina / blood supply