Sexual consent is all about having solid communication with your partner(s). However, many of us aren’t very good communicators in general when it comes to sex and, further, many of us don’t have a good model for how consent communication should actually go—when should it happen and what are the key things that should be discussed?Read More
I have written quite a bit about similarities and differences in the sexual fantasies of self-identified men and women (see here for a summary). Of course, however, not everyone identifies as male or female. So what do people who have non-binary gender identities (e.g., transgender, bigender, genderqueer) fantasize about? And how are they similar or different to those of self-identified men and women?Read More
In the last year, I have been approached to consult on a number of legal cases that center around disputes over whether a given sex act constituted consensual BDSM or sexual violence. This prompted me to do more extensive research into the area of BDSM and the law, which led me to a recent book titled Consensual Violence: Sex, Sports, and the Politics of Injury by Dr. Jill Weinberg, who happens to be both a sociologist and a lawyer. I decided to give it a read and I’m glad I did because it was nothing short of fascinating.Read More
Pornhub’s annual year-in-review always offers tantalizing insights into what it is that turns people on—and last year’s review was no exception. I recently wrote about some of the top search results on the site and discussed the psychology behind them here. However, there was something else in last year’s Pornhub report that caught my eye that I thought deserved its own article: the fact that “straight guys” was the most-viewed category on Pornhub’s gay site.
What’s the deal with that?Read More
Feederism has been described as "a fat fetish focused on erotic eating, feeding, and gaining weight" . There are two types of people who exist within this fetish culture: feeders and feedees. Feeders are people who get sexual pleasure from feeding other people and seeing them gain weight. By contrast, feedees are people who get sexual pleasure from being fed by others and gaining weight.
Feederism has been described in the psychological literature as a paraphilia—a term that means having an unusual or uncommon sexual interest.Read More
Paraphilia is the term psychiatrists and psychologists use to refer to any type of unusual or “non-normative” sexual interest. The number of sexual fantasies that have been deemed paraphilic has grown substantially over the years to the point where hundreds of things have now been labeled as unusual turn-ons. As it turns out, however, a lot of these fantasies aren’t so uncommon after all.
Here are three specific sexual fantasies that are typically considered to be paraphilic, but that are actually quite common in terms of the number of people who have fantasized about them before.Read More
There’s a big assumption built into the way most people talk about sexual consent, which is that sex is exclusively a two-person activity. While it’s true that sex most often occurs in pairs, it’s definitely not the case that sex only ever involves two people. Sometimes people have threesomes or participate in orgies or other group encounters. So how does consent work when you have more than two people involved?Read More
I have been studying the science of sex for the last ten years. During that time, I’ve learned a lot about what turns people on, from the vanilla to the kinky.
Just when I thought I’d heard it all, I embarked on a study of sexual desire that ultimately became the largest and most comprehensive survey of sexual fantasies ever conducted in the United States.Read More
Our sexual fantasies appear to reflect, at least in part, our personality traits and characteristics. In studying the sex fantasies of more than 4,000 Americans for my book Tell Me What You Want, I found that the Big Five personality factors of openness to experience, conscientiousness, agreeableness, extraversion, and neuroticism were all linked to the types of fantasies people reported having.
Below, I briefly describe what each of these traits is all about and how they are related to the types of things you’re more (or less) likely to fantasize about:Read More
When we hear or read about other people’s sexual fantasies, we have a tendency to focus our attention on the specific act they describe, such as a threesome or bondage, and the physical sensations that go along with it. However, our fantasies are much more complex than this and, often, they go well beyond a desire for purely physical gratification. It turns out that we’re often seeking to meet deeper psychological needs through our fantasies, too. And depending on what your needs are at a given moment, you might very well be drawn to different types of sex fantasies.Read More
Anal activities have become increasingly popular in porn—and in people’s sex lives, too. For example, changes in Pornhub search trends reveal that queries for anal sex have increased by more than 100% in the last decade. At the same time, there’s been a sizeable increase in the number of men and women who say they’ve tried anal sex at least once before when you compare recent data to 1990s data.
Anal sex isn’t just one thing, though—people are exploring anal stimulation in multiple forms, from rimming to pegging. And if there’s a trend in anal sex right now, it seems to be pegging, an act that has been depicted and discussed with great frequency not just in porn, but also in pop culture.Read More
People who are into bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism (or BDSM for short) experience a lot of stigma. For one thing, they are often seen as psychologically disturbed, despite research showing that BDSM practitioners appear to be just as psychologically healthy as everyone else. For another, many people—including a lot of mental health professionals—question whether you can practice BDSM and still have a healthy relationship. In fact, in one survey of therapists, fully one-third of them reported being unsure of whether someone into BDSM could carry on a functional relationship .Read More
I recently returned from the Sexuality Pre-Conference, held just prior to the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in Atlanta, Georgia. I had the chance to see an incredible set of talks and what I’d like to do in this post is briefly walk you through four of the most interesting things I learned by attending this meeting.Read More
Do people engaged in casual, “no strings attached” sexual relationships engage in similar sexual activities compared to people in committed romantic relationships? There is some research to suggest that the answer is yes, at least when looking at relatively conventional sexual practices. For instance, in a 2014 study I published on this subject, I found no differences in experiences with kissing, mutual masturbation, oral sex, vaginal intercourse, and anal intercourse when comparing people who had a friend with benefits (FWBs) to those who had a romantic partner .
However, we didn’t inquire about participation in less conventional sexual activities, such as BDSM and group sex. It’s possible that we might see different engagement in these activities based on relationship type, given the fact that these relationships--romances and FWBs--tend to differ in terms of both sexual exclusivity and sexual communication .Read More
The immense popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey has prompted a lot of curiosity about BDSM (bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism). Among other things, people have begun to wonder just how many of us have explored BDSM practices before. Unfortunately, however, this isn't a sexual activity that researchers have routinely inquired about on national sex surveys--at least not until now. A study published last month in the journal PLOS ONE offers some insight. Check out the infographic below for a look at Americans' interest in and experiences with various BDSM acts and some of the key takeaways from this survey.Read More
When we engage in sexual activity, it's usually with just one other person. Sometimes, however, people engage in “social” sexual experiences in which multiple people are involved in some way. These social sexual activities include everything from visiting strip clubs to participating in threesomes and orgies to attending sex, BDSM, and swinger parties. The prevalence of these social sexual experiences is something that, until now, we haven’t really known that much about. However, a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE offers some insight derived from a recent nationally representative US sample. Check out the infographic below for a look at the numbers and some of the key takeaways.Read More
Paraphilia is a very general term used by psychologists to refer to any kind of unusual sexual interest. The number of desires that have been deemed paraphilic has grown substantially over the years to the point where hundreds of things have now been classified as unusual turn-ons. As it turns out, though, a lot of these desires aren’t so uncommon after all. In this article, we'll take a look at three specific sexual desires that are typically considered to be paraphilic, but that are actually quite common in terms of the number of people who have fantasized about them before.Read More
Earlier this month, the fourth annual Sexuality Pre-Conference was held just prior to the meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP). Together with a few of my colleagues, I have been helping to co-organize this pre-conference for the last four years with the goal of making sure that sexuality research is consistently well represented at SPSP.
I truly believe that this year’s program was our best yet and wanted to take a few moments to share some of the key insights and takeaways from this event in case you missed it (and also to entice you to attend next year!). Specifically, I want to tell you a bit about our very first presentation of the day, which focused on the science of BDSM. (Do we know how to get people’s attention at 8:00 AM or what?)Read More
For the last two weeks, I’ve been inundated with both reader questions and requests for media interviews on a topic I’ve rarely been asked about before: urophilia, which refers to being sexually aroused by urine. Initially, most of the inquiries were looking for comment on why a certain high-profile public figure allegedly has this sexual interest, and I was not about to get involved in that—I’m not in the business of commenting on the rumored sexual proclivities of celebrities or politicians. However, the questions I'm getting now have shifted away from attempts to understand a specific person and toward a more general curiosity about the prevalence and psychological origins of urophilia. These are the kinds of queries I’m much more inclined to answer. So, here’s what we know.Read More