Sex Difference in Sex Drive

According to a story in the last issue of Psychological Science:

… for most women, high sex drive is associated with increased sexual attraction to both men and women. For men, however, high sex drive is associated with increased sexual attraction to only one sex or the other, depending on the individual’s sexual orientation. These results suggest that the correlates of sex drive and the organization of sexual orientation are different for women and men.


[This is a repost from Gregladen.com]

This is one of those studies where a perfectly good (i.e., falsifiable) hypothesis was being tested, but it turns out that the hypothesis is only half rejected. The premise is that there are two models for sex drive: Sex drive is a generalized “energizer” of sexual behaviors vs. sex drive is a specific energizer. Hunger is a generalized energizer because when you get hungry you could end up wanting to eat anything you normally eat (never mind cravings …. you don’t get a single craving for one thing forever when it comes to food).

This paper actually reports three different studies. The first study looked at 1,735 college students, who completed an anonymous survey. The second study had a disproportionate percentage of gay and lesbian participants … volunteers from student and political organizations in southern California. Again, an anonymous questionaire was used. The third study was an Internet study on “sexual attitudes and interests.”

Obviously, one could point out potential flaws. This is self-reporting and the sample selection was not necessarily ideal.

Here are the results summarized in a different way:

Studies 1 and 3 showed that, for heterosexual men, sex drive correlated with attraction to women, but not with attraction to men. For heterosexual women, in contrast, sex drive correlated with both attraction to women and attraction to men. Thus, for heterosexual women, sex drive seems to act as a generalized energizer of sexual attractions to both women and men. For heterosexual men, in contrast, sex drive seems to energize only dominant attractions.

It is indeed possible that men and women have fundamentally different sex drives. There is a lot of evidence to support that there are differences. I remain totally unconvinced that this is, however, anything other than an observational difference, or at most, a difference in the way male and female sex drive translates via various survey methods in certain subsets of society into a psychological experiment. The same exact hormonal and neruological processes could result in the observed differences if males and females simply respond differently in these settings for reasons unrelated to their sex drive. The real experiment one would have to do to test this in humans is probably not allowable…

Source:
Richard A. Lippa (2006)
Is High Sex Drive Associated With Increased Sexual Attraction to Both Sexes?. It Depends on Whether You Are Male or Female. Psychological Science 17 (1), 46-52.

Comments

  1. #1 oscar zoalaster
    November 25, 2007

    I am increasingly convinced that there are many kinds of sex drives and many kinds of sexual preferences. (How much a person is attracted to a specific gender, how much sexual behavior is limited to a specific gender, how much ‘sexual attraction’ matters in a romance, how much romance is essential/inessential for sexual attraction, etcetera.) I am quite willing to believe that men and women have different statistical likelihoods of having particular combinations of sex drives and preferences – but I reflexively consider it ludicrous to assume that all men are ‘this way’ and all women are ‘that way’. There is simply too much human variety for that to be the case.

  2. #2 sue ellis
    November 26, 2007

    For heterosexual women, in contrast, sex drive correlated with both attraction to women and attraction to men. Thus, for heterosexual women, sex drive seems to act as a generalized energizer of sexual attractions to both women and men.

    Uh, doesn’t this make them bisexual?

  3. #3 the real cmf
    November 26, 2007

    who can possibly quantify the sexuality of women? It is the only sexuality that has gone “unexplored” in the rhetoric; as if women, end their abberations, fetishes, and excessive dominance ( especially with children) is taboo.

    And did I mention, not “talkable.” Not examinable?

Current ye@r *