Beliefs about the state, goals, and objects of sexual desire

J Sex Marital Ther. Summer 1996;22(2):110-20. doi: 10.1080/00926239608404915.


Little is known about how men women conceptualize sexual desire. This descriptive study explored beliefs about the nature of sexual desire. Participants defined sexual desire in a free response format. The results suggest that there is no single common understanding of sexual desire. In particular, although men and women conceptualize the state of sexual desire in a manner similar to researchers and theorists (i.e., as a subjective, psychological experience rather than as a physiological or behavioral sexual event), sexual desire represents a more romantic, interpersonal experience for women than for men. Significantly more women than men believed that love and emotional intimacy are important goals of sexual desire, and fewer women than men viewed sexual activity as a goal of sexual desire.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior*