Sex-specific but not sexually explicit: pupillary responses to dressed and naked adults

R Soc Open Sci. 2017 May 3;4(5):160963. doi: 10.1098/rsos.160963. eCollection 2017 May.


Dilation of the pupils is an indicator of an observer's sexual interest in other people, but it remains unresolved whether this response is strengthened or diminished by sexually explicit material. To address this question, this study compared pupillary responses of heterosexual men and women to naked and dressed portraits of male and female adult film actors. Pupillary responses corresponded with observers' self-reported sexual orientation, such that dilation occurred during the viewing of opposite-sex people, but were comparable for naked and dressed targets. These findings indicate that pupillary responses provide a sex-specific measure, but are not sensitive to sexually explicit content.

Keywords: eye-tracking; pupillary response; sexual appeal; sexual interest; viewing behaviour.

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3735634
  • Dryad/10.5061/dryad.22242