PSYC 5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Human Sexual Activity, Permissive Society, Human Sexuality
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Psychological Aspects of Human Sexuality
● Interested in studying from an anthological and ethnological perspective what the sexual
norms are in different cultures.
● Anthropological and ethnological studies in society look at what it is they believe, what
they do, their justifications, how their systems work, etc.
Why study sexual behaviours in different cultures?
● Provides insight into the ways in which culture influences sexual behaviour.
▪ Belief that your own culture is the norm and better than others. Use your own
culture a reference point when analyzing other cultures.
▪ Topless beaches are the norm in Europe but not in Canada.
▪ Polygamy is the norm in some cultures but is illegal in Canada.
● Polygyny: one man multiple wives.
● Polyandry: one woman multiple husbands.
● Usually made for socioeconomic decisions.
● Usually the husband/wife is chosen by the family not the individual.
▪ In Canada, monogamy is the norm. However, around the world it is the minority.
o Diversity and universality of sexual norms
● Illustrates the importance of learning in shaping human sexual behaviour. Anthropologist
will categorize using these 2 continuums.
o Permissive ----- Restrictive continuum
▪ Permissive societies are characterized by positive and tolerant attitudes towards
freedom of sexual expression. There are not many rules. They see human sexuality
as a natural and integral part of the individual’s development.
▪ No society has 100% freedom; some have many rules and others don’t.
▪ Semi-restrictive societies have a few more rules than permissive societies.
▪ Restrictive societies seek to restrain and control rigidly sexual expression/behaviour.
The role of certain aspects of sexuality in the development of the individual is either
unknown or judged negatively.
▪ Canada is close in the center of permissive and semi-restrictive, but is closer to
▪ In the majority of cultures, there’s more restrictions placed on woman’s sexuality.
o Low anxiety ------ High anxiety continuum
▪ Anxiety: View sexuality as a taboo. They believe that if you talk about these things
something bad will happen. They have a fear of sexuality.
● Demonstrates how “sexual normalcy” is a relative concept.
o Depends on an individual’s environment.
● Demonstrates how cultural attitudes, customs and beliefs about sex and sexuality assign
meaning to the individual’s sexual behaviour.