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Lecture: The Development of Sexual Behaviour

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Psychology 2035A/B
Doug Hazlewood

The Development of Sexual Behaviour His first sexual experience was playing doctor when he was 5 Part 1: Infancy and Childhood • Sexual responsiveness in infants 1. the capacity for sexual arousal is present at birth- actually present prior to birth; friend showed his an ultrasound picture and he was a perv and pointed it out that his not born baby has any erection; studies show that the typical 3 week old boy can have up to 40 erections per day. Baby girls are capable of vaginal lubrication within 24 hours of birth 2. these sexual responses are “reflexive” result from: - physical stimulation (crying, full-bladder) - psychological stimulation (watching exciting things- fired, wild animals) 3. responses are indiscriminate ( caused by a wide variety of things) B. Sexual Behvaiour in Childhood - takes the form of play 1. Autoerotic Play (6-12 months); random contact with genitals (appears to be pleasurable)- infants play with themselves - there is DELIBERATE contact with the genitals, not ransom - if you remove the babies hand, it will go right back there 2. Sociosexual Play (age 3) - when kids start playing with other kids Reflects curiousity about other people’s bodies - as they get older, they express the curiousity in the form of games (e.g. playing doctor)- allow kids to take their cloths off and see what other kids look like - you’re a parent and find out that your kids are doing this, how should parents respond?  don’t want to overreact, but can’t not do anything  experts suggest that there are 2 things to keep in mind: it’s natural (don’t over-react), AND the parents’ response will be the first step in the child’s sexual socialization C. Sexual Socialization of Children - some cultures actively encourage their children how to engage in sexual behaviour 1. Cross-cultural studies: in some cultures, children are: - allowed to watch adults have sex - encouraged to imitate sexual intercourse when playing with their friends - taught how to masturbate and perform oral sex - WHY? If they don’t have these early experiences, they won’t become fertile (capable of having their own children) **IMPORTANT POINT: children in all cultures must learn appropriate sexual behaviours- different cultures have different ideas about what is appropriate but every child will learn their cultures appropriate behaviour  they are limited by what they are capable of learning (cognitive development)- hard to convince a baby that an egg is not the thing you eat that comes from a chicken but it’s their mother’s egg  also limited by what society allows them to learn- this is their sexual socialization Socialization agents: 2. The role of parents (in OUR society) o everyone agrees that parents SHOULD teach their children about sex but do they? Most do o Communication between parents and children is not always open and honest (a) Parents’ strategies for information control (of sexual information that they give to their children) - Sexual behaviour is labelled as wrong but there is NOT explanation for why it’s wrong - Non-labeling: parents use distraction to shift the focus of the sexual discussion, from a sexual to a non-sexual discussion i. E.g. a child asks how mommy got pregnant and the child might be told that mommy and daddy were in love. Totally avoids how mommy got pregnant - Mislabeling: sexual behaviour is labelled as wrong (but for an incorrect reason) e.g. billy is told not to play with his penis because he will get germs  produces shame and fear - (b) No wonder that kids develop so many nicknames for sexual organs: one study identifies 60 names that kids use for the penis, and more then 40 names for the vagina. Even when the kids knew the correct term, they did NOT use it because they think it would be naughty and bad - ( c ) parent’s nonverbal communication: i. Often signals anxiety about sexual behaviour ii. Study: compares American grade 2 kids and Sweden kids (much more open when communicating wit their kids)- asked to draw pictures of birth. American kids were more likely to draw picture of doctors with long knives ready to cut out the baby while Swedish kids were more likely to draw accurate pictures - Why isn’t communication more open and honesty? - parents are uncomfortable discussing sex with each other (let alone with tier children) - some will discuss sex but only if the children ask often doesn’t eve get started b/c kids are afraid to ask - some will discuss sex only at the “appropriate time”; unfortunately many have no clue what this time is- they tend to put off the questions because it’s too early to be discussing it - some will not discuss it because they think it will encourage kids to experiment with sex - research suggests that the opposite appears to be the case- when parents are the main source of sexual information, kids are LESS likely to engage in early sexual intercourse compare to kids where the sole source of sexual information is t
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