The Psychology of Sadism: Why Some People Are Turned On By Others' Pain

The Psychology of Sadism: Why Some People Are Turned On By Others' Pain

Sexual sadists are people who derive arousal from inflicting pain on others. This could be physical pain, such as hitting someone else, or it could be psychological pain, such as humiliating another person. Where does this sexual interest come from? A lot of people are curious, including a reader who recently sent me the following question:

“My friend expressed that he is turned on by the idea of seeing someone feel pain and/or discomfort. He said if you want to turn him on, you should whimper or cry. Of course this isn’t his only turn on, but I wonder where it comes from. Why would seeing someone hurt turn him on sexually?”

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How A Male Contraceptive Pill Could Work (Video)

How A Male Contraceptive Pill Could Work (Video)

Scientists have been working on developing a birth control pill for men for years. One prominent line of research has focused on using hormones to block production of sperm; however, this approach has come with a number of side effects and there is a significant number of men for whom it don’t seem to work. As a result, some researchers have begun turning to methods that don’t require the administration of hormones, as Dr. John Amory explains in the TEDMED video below.

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Four Things You Can Do To Keep Passion Alive And Boost Sexual Satisfaction

Four Things You Can Do To Keep Passion Alive And Boost Sexual Satisfaction

How does sexual satisfaction change over time in a relationship? The good news is that scientists have found that it increases. The bad news is that this increase only occurs throughout the first year—and then it typically starts dropping after that. 

 We are, of course, talking about what happens on average. There’s certainly a lot of individual variability, which means that some people buck the trend and find that their satisfaction either remains high or keeps going up. 

So let’s say you want your sex life to stay on a positive trajectory. How do you ward off that decline in satisfaction that so many of us seem to experience? Here are four science-backed tips for keeping passion alive and improving your sex life. 

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Gonorrhea Can Potentially Be Spread Through Kissing

Gonorrhea Can Potentially Be Spread Through Kissing

Gonorrhea is a relatively common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can be passed along through oral, vaginal, and anal sex. It was once thought that these were the only sexual activities that posed a significant risk for this particular STI; however, a recent study suggests that gonorrhea can potentially be transmitted through kissing as well, regardless of whether any genital contact occurs.

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The Keys To A Happier, Healthier Sex Life (Video)

The Keys To A Happier, Healthier Sex Life (Video)

What are the keys to a leading a happy and healthy sex life? And how do you unlock your authentic sexual self? Dr. Emily Nagoski addresses these questions in the TEDx talk below from a science-based perspective. Nagoski walks us through the research on how our brains respond to sexual cues and helps us to understand why that’s important for the way that we approach sex. She also discusses the importance of expanding our definition of what’s “normal” when it comes to sex and learning to be comfortable and confident in our own skin. Check out the video below to learn more.

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What Kinds of Porn Do Men and Women Watch Most Often?

What Kinds of Porn Do Men and Women Watch Most Often?

There are lots of articles out there describing the most-viewed porn categories on Pornhub and other popular adult sites—however, that’s not what this article is. While big data insights from major porn websites are certainly interesting and informative in their own right, they are limited in several ways, not the least of which is that we don’t necessarily know how the people who visit those sites are similar to or different from the rest of the population. 

So what happens when—instead of looking at big data—researchers survey people about which types of porn they watch most often?

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Ten Myths About Sexual Orientation Debunked By Science

Ten Myths About Sexual Orientation Debunked By Science

June is LGBT Pride Month, so I'll be running several posts on LGBTQ+ issues on the blog over the next few weeks. To get us started, let's begin by debunking some of the most common myths and misconceptions about sexual orientation. 

1. ) Myth: Homosexuality is contagious (i.e., you can "catch the gay"). Truth: Same sex attraction is not transmitted through social contact. As some evidence of this, consider a recent, large-scale study finding that same-sex attraction did not spread within adolescent peer groups. Adolescents’ patterns of sexual attraction were unrelated to those of their friends.

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What the Kink Community Can Teach Us About Consent and Communication

What the Kink Community Can Teach Us About Consent and Communication

A few days ago, I received several messages from friends saying they heard a segment on NPR about kink that mentioned me. Naturally, I was curious to give it a listen, but mostly because kink is a topic that I’m not sure I’ve ever heard covered on NPR—and I listen to NPR a lot! It turns out that the segment is all about what the kink community can teach us about sexual consent and communication, and it’s pretty well done.

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How Do You “Come Out” as a Sex Therapist, Educator, or Researcher?

How Do You “Come Out” as a Sex Therapist, Educator, or Researcher?

Whenever someone asks what I do for a living, I have a decision to make: do I “out” myself as a sex scientist, or do I give a generic answer that doesn’t emphasize the fact that I study sex for a living? For example, I could simply say that I’m a social psychologist or an author and leave it at that. This choice is something that all sex educators, researchers, and therapists face. Each of us has to figure out on our own what we want to reveal about our jobs to different audiences. However, there’s one audience that’s often especially tricky to navigate: our families.  

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Why Tinder is Frustrating for Everyone

Why Tinder is Frustrating for Everyone

The internet is rife with articles describing people’s frustration with online dating apps like Tinder. It’s interesting when you think about it because these apps were designed to make dating easier and more efficient than ever; however, they haven’t necessarily made the process more satisfying. One of the problems for those attracted to different genders is that men and women tend to take very different approaches to Tinder—approaches that often end up creating frustration on all sides.

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Penis Enlargement Surgery Is Risky--And There's Little Evidence That It Works

Penis Enlargement Surgery Is Risky--And There's Little Evidence That It Works

Penis size is a common body concern among men. While most guys report being satisfied with the size of their genitals, a sizable minority say they’re unhappy. For example, in a survey of 4,198 US men aged 18-65 who were asked to rate their satisfaction with 14 different aspects of their manhood [1], 85.9% were categorized as being satisfied overall. The remaining 14.1% (or about 1 in 7 men) were dissatisfied. Perhaps not surprisingly, their most common concerns revolved around flaccid and erect penis length as well as penile girth.

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This Sex Position Increases The Odds Of Simultaneous Orgasm For Men And Women

This Sex Position Increases The Odds Of Simultaneous Orgasm For Men And Women

As a sex researcher, I’ve learned a lot about what it is that people fantasize about when it comes sex. In many of the fantasies I’ve heard, something I’ve noticed is that people— especially heterosexual men and women—often describe a scenario that results in simultaneous orgasm. The idea of climaxing at the same time seems to be appealing to a lot of people, so is there anything you can do to increase the chances of it actually happening in real life?

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Men And Women Have Different Sexual Regrets

Men And Women Have Different Sexual Regrets

When asked to describe a memorable regret, the things people mention most often involve love, sex, and romance. Common regrets include lost opportunities (like “the one that got away”), cheating and infidelity, and one’s first sexual experience. Men and women both report having sexual regrets, but do the nature of those regrets differ? Research suggests that, on average, they do.

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Is Kink a Sexual Orientation?

Is Kink a Sexual Orientation?

What does it say about you if you’re into kinky or BDSM sex? Is it a serious leisure activity, or is it an innate aspect of your sexuality? Could the answer be different for different people? A recent article published in the journal Current Sexual Health Reports grapples with these questions.

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Why We Still Don't Have Birth Control For Men (Besides Condoms and Vasectomies)

Why We Still Don't Have Birth Control For Men (Besides Condoms and Vasectomies)

When it comes to men’s options for birth control, they really only have two choices: wear a condom or get a vasectomy. While the number of options available to women has increased dramatically in recent years, nothing has really changed for men. So why is that?

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Living Together Before Marriage is Still Illegal in Two States

Living Together Before Marriage is Still Illegal in Two States

Cohabitation, or the act of living together with a partner outside of marriage, used to be a rarity. However, it has become quite common in the modern world. Many now see it as a precursor to marriage, while others view it as an alternative option to marriage. A majority of married Americans today (nearly 60%) report that they cohabited before tying the knot.

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The Number of Americans Identifying as Bisexual has Tripled in the Last Decade

The Number of Americans Identifying as Bisexual has Tripled in the Last Decade

The percentage of Americans who identify as LGBT is on the rise. Data from Gallup and other national surveys suggest that, as attitudes toward sexual minorities have become more positive, more and more Americans are comfortable reporting LGBT identities. However, these data haven’t been broken down by subgroups, so it’s not entirely clear whether we’re seeing across-the-board increases, or just increases in identification with certain subgroups. A recent analysis of data from the General Social Survey suggests that much of the increase is attributable to a rise in bisexual identification.

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The Truth About the “Oral Sex Gap”

The Truth About the “Oral Sex Gap”

According to countless popular media articles, there is a massive disparity between heterosexual men and women when it comes to giving oral sex. Some of these articles suggest that, in male-female sexual encounters, “blowjobs are basically a given” while cunnilingus is “one of the least-often performed sex acts.” In other words, men are getting oral all the time from women, whereas women are almost never receiving it from men—a situation that has been dubbed the “oral sex gap.”

However, I did some digging into the prevalence of oral sex across genders and it turns out that these claims don’t quite match up with what the research says. The oral sex gap isn’t exactly what we have been led to believe.

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