Habituation of female sexual arousal to slides and film

Arch Sex Behav. 1995 Oct;24(5):517-41. doi: 10.1007/BF01541832.


The habituation of genital and subjective sexual arousal in women was assessed. In a first experiment 32 women were randomly assigned to either a constant stimulus condition in which subjects were exposed to the same erotic slide on repeated trials within one session, or to a varied stimuli condition in which subjects were exposed to various erotic slides. A second experiment assessed habituation of sexual responses of 42 women to erotic film excerpts. In both experiments repeated erotic stimulation was followed by a novel erotic stimulus to study the effect of novel stimulation to a sequence of uniform stimulation. In the first experiment a floor effect was found in response to the first three trials that prevented a valid interpretation of responding on subsequent trials. We conclude that slides yield too little sexual arousal in female subjects. In the second experiment only a slight decline in genital responding was observed. Women sustained considerable levels of genital arousal even after 21 trials of uniform stimulation. Facial EMG was used as a physiological marker of emotional experience. Zygomatic activity decreased over trials, suggesting decreasing positive affect as a result of uniform stimulation. Results are discussed in the context of selective attention, characteristics of the habituation stimulus, and novelty.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Electromyography
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Erotica*
  • Facial Muscles / innervation
  • Facial Muscles / physiology
  • Female
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Libido / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation*
  • Photoplethysmography
  • Vagina / physiology