Continuing on from my first blog ‘The Female Orgasm: Her Incentive… Or His?’ the present blog aims to dig further into what motivates sexual behaviour. To recap, the evidence presented indicated that a strong incentive was important in driving motivation to end state. We established that the short term reward of an orgasm was a strong motive, particularly in sexually deprived males, and that it was unclear if an orgasm was a strong incentive in females. The primary aim of this blog is to address if sexual motivation is a valid area of scientific interest and to seek out the primary motivating factors which contribute to females engaging in sexual behaviour.
The study of sexual motivation is important and has been largely ignored by psychologists. Sexual motivation is time consuming and unlike almost all other species of animals, humans often do not copulate with the sole purpose to reproduce (Rathus, Nevid & Fichner-Rathus, 1993). moreover societal problems such as unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases are problematic, it is therefore imperative we validate sexual motivation as an area for scientific enquiry. Until recently the area of sexual motivation had largely been ignored, arguably due to the perceived simplicity of the answer; to reproduce, to alleviate sexual tension or for sexual excitement and/or pleasure Meston and Buss (2007) hypothesise. Psychology textbooks, such as Lambert Deckers book on motivation, gives rise to this simple hypothesis. Deckers (2010) briefly explains over a single page that orgasms, feelings of excitement, intimacy and closeness are all motivators of sexual behaviour. Sexual motivation is often overlooked and simplified in modern psychology and in particular whether gender differences exist and if so what they are.
Meston and Buss (2007) undertook a large scale study which intended to identify what motivates women to engage in sexual behaviour. Clinical psychologist Meston and evolutionary psychologist Buss collaborated on a cross-cultural study interviewing 1046 women of varying age (16-42) and across the whole spectrum of sexual orientation (heterosexual, bisexual, gay/lesbian). The study identified a total of 237 motivators of sexual behaviour. The most frequent answer as to why women engage in sexual behaviour was to achieve orgasm. The second highest rated answer was the prospect of romantic love. The Meston and Buss (2007) study generalise their findings to all women, however there are notable limitations with both the ecological validity of this study and the methodology. Firstly, the sample consisted of 1046 participants aged between 16 and 42, yet, as stated explicitly, 96% of the women interviewed were aged between 18 and 22. The participants aged 16 to 18 and 22 to 42 made up less than 4% of the tested population. Additionally, to allow for generalisation towards the greater population, a larger sample range would be required.
To address the proposed question of the scientific validity of the field of sexual motivation; sexual motivation, and as an extension, sexual behaviour, are aspects of Psychology that have largely been neglected in the literature until recently. This can be regarded as an error of the perceived answer, that is to say that sexual motivation has been regarded solely for the purpose of reproduction, and a source of pleasure. Simply, the answer was perceived as being too obvious to require experimentation and study. To summarise the material covered; sexual motivation, when regarded specifically to women, requires a strong sexual incentive: whether this is the rewarding stimulus of an orgasm or the prospect of romantic love as highlighted by Meston and Buss (2007). There are many more motivating factors, some 235 motives which can be, and are, motives to sexual behaviour in females. The scientific enquiry into why people have sex outside of reproduction is in its infancy and more studies are required which have greater external validity to assess such a complicated multi-dimensional model of sexual behaviour.
Deckers, L. (2010). Motivation: Biological, psychological, and environmental. Allyn and Bacon.
Meston, C. M., & Buss, D. M. (2007). Why humans have sex. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 36(4), 477-507. Retrieved from http://www.homepage.psy.utexas.edu/HomePage/Group/BussLAB/pdffiles/why%20humans%20have%20sex%202007.pdf
Rathus, A. R., Nevid, J. S., & Fichner-Rathus, L. (1993). Human Sexuality: In a World of Diversity. Boston: Allyn and Bacon
Love that so many people have read my blog – would love some comments though!
How are humans motivated to copulate and reproduce? Are both males and females motivated into action to fulfil an innate biological need, which could in fact, be comparable to seeking out water when thirsty? Instead, could a strong psychological desire for physical intimacy be sufficient to provoke behaviour? Alternatively, could an individuals motivation be pulled along with the incentive of a rewarding and pleasurable experience: an orgasm? Arguably of most interest is how motives and incentives interplay to prompt behaviour. This blog will address the matter of how internal dispositions and environmental incentives direct the motivation of both males and females into the act of sexual intercourse, while addressing gender differences from an evolutionary perspective.
Sexual intercourse (SI) requires a high investment of precious resources from both parties, including; energy and time. The possibility that in forty weeks new life may enter the world would seldom be a strong incentive…
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