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Journal Article


Carvalho J, Rosa PJ. J. Sex. Med. 2020; ePub(ePub): ePub.


(Copyright © 2020, International Society for Sexual Medicine, Publisher John Wiley and Sons)






BACKGROUND: Gender differences in sexual response have targeted individuals' emotional appraisal of mainstream erotica. Yet, evidence reveals that men and women commonly endorse non-normative sexual interests, and no evidence has been collected on their emotional responses toward deviant sexual stimuli.

AIM: This study was aimed at evaluating gender differences in the emotional responses toward non-consensual sexual intercourse, thus revealing individuals' appraisal of non-normative sexual contents. In order to provide an initial background to interpret findings, this study further tested the association between individuals' emotional responses and sexual self-schemas (SSSs).

METHODS: 29 men and 45 women (all heterosexual) were voluntarily exposed to audiovisual presentations of non-consensual/physically forced sexual intercourse in a laboratory context. Markers of emotional response were collected by psychophysiological and self-report means.

OUTCOMES: Pupil activation, namely pupil diameter ratio, during exposure to the video clips was captured with an eye tracker. Positive and negative emotions and subjective sexual arousal toward the clips were also collected. In addition, participants responded to the SSS scale assessing individuals' sexual self-perceptions.

RESULTS: Findings revealed a small degree of gender differences. While men reported significantly more positive emotions toward the clip displaying a woman as recipient to non-consensual sex, no further differences were found. Also, participants revealed an increased pupil diameter ratio only in the first moments of the video clips. SSSs, including themes of aggression and power, were associated with men's emotional responses toward the clips, while no associations were found in women.

CLINICAL TRANSLATION: Despite its preliminary nature, the current study provides evidence on the emotional mechanisms underpinning human sexual response, and may eventually translate to conceptualizing models with a focus on non-normative sexual behavior.

STRENGTHS & LIMITATIONS: To our best knowledge, this is the first study researching gender specificities in the emotional appraisal of non-consented sex. Current findings may help to understand individuals' deviant sexual interests and establish a framework for future research in this area. However, it is worth noting that lack of previous research prevents the generalization of findings and limits our interpretation of data.

CONCLUSION: Findings revealed a small degree of gender differences in the emotional appraisal of non-consensual sexual intercourse, and suggested partial evidence in the relationship between sexual self-perceptions and emotional responses to forced sex. Carvalho J, Rosa PJ. Gender Differences in the Emotional Response and Subjective Sexual Arousal Toward Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse: A Pupillometric Study. J Sex Med 2020;XX:XXX-XXX.

Language: en


Emotions; Eye Tracking; Paraphilic Interest; Pupil; Sexual Arousal


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