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Chapter 2


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Psychology 2075
Corey Isaacs

Chapter 2 – Theoretical Perspectives on Sexuality Evolutionary Perspective • Use principles from evolutionary biology to explain why certain patterns of social behaviour and psychological mechanisms have evolved in animals, including humans • Sociobiology – idea that some behaviours are a result of evolution • Sociobiologists argue that certain sexual behaviours evolved because they gave our ancestors an evolutionary advantage • Evolution – what counts is producing lots of healthy, viable offspring who will carry on one’s genes and occurs through natural selection • Natural selection – process by which individuals who are best adapted to their environment are more likely to survive, reproduce & pass on genes to the next generation • Major criterion on how humans choose mates is based on physical attractiveness of the person, these characteristics indicate the health & vigour of the individual & their ability to reproduce, ex/ physique & complexion • Customs such as hanging out, dating, getting engaged are much like the courtship rituals of other species, ex/ falcon & eagles have flying courtship in which objects are exchanged between the pair midair • Sociobiologist view this courtship as an opportunity for each member of the prospective couple to assess the other’s fitness, ex/ men expending money on dates indicates ability to support family • Sociobiologist also explain why the nuclear family structure is found in every society – once a man and woman mate, there are several obstacles to reproductive success: infant vulnerability & maternal death • Infant vulnerability is greatly reduced if mother provides continuing physical care, & is further reduced if the father provides resources and security from attack for mother & infant • Two mechanisms that facilitate these conditions are: 1) pair bond between mother & father 2) attachment between infant and parent • Emotional bond also can lead to more frequent sexual interaction which will strengthen the bond – research with mammals like mice and voles demonstrate advantages of biparental care of offspring and the critical role of bonding • Parental investment – refers to behaviour and resources invested in offspring to achieve this end, parents are interested in the survival and reproductive success of their genetic offspring • High rates of divorce have led to men having both biological and step children, studies have found that men will invest the most money in the genetic children of their current union & the least in step children from a past relationship • However spend an equal amount on their genetic children and stepchildren of their current relationship – may be to cement the pair bond with their current partner • Research has found that in men physiological sexual arousal is specific to stimuli depicting their preferred sexual partner whereas women show physiological arousal to stimuli depicting both their preferred & non-preferred sex partners, even animals • One explanation is that women who automatically respond physiologically with vasocongestion & vaginal lubrication were less likely to be injured during unwilling penile vaginal intercourse or sexual activity with a chosen partner whom they did not find subjectively attractive • Sexual selection also proposed by Darwin – selection that results from differences in traits affecting access to mates • Two processes: 1) competition among members of one gender (usually males) for mating access to members of the other gender & 2) preferential choice by members of one gender (usually females) for certain members of the other gender • Research shows that men compete with each other in ways that involve displaying material resources significantly more than women do and both believe that these tactics are effective • Criticism objects to the biological determinism implied: sociobiology focuses mainly on the individual’s struggle for survival and efforts to reproduce but modern biologists focus on issues such as survival of the group and species • Sociobiologists also assume that central function of sex is reproduction – not true today, cannot explain homosexuality • Research has shown that the winners of Miss American contest and Playboy’s centrefold models have declined from 0.78 to 0.64 – contradicts the claim for a preference of 0.7 hardwired by evolution • 0.7 ratio is most common in societies where women are economically dependent on men, not in all cultures as theory states Evolutionary Psychology • Focus is on how natural selection has shaped psychological mechanisms and processes rather than how it has shaped sexual behaviour directly • Sexual strategies theory – females and males face different adaptive problems in short-term or casual mating and in long-term mating and reproduction • Short term mating – a female may choose a partner who offers immediate resources such as food or money, male may choose a sexually available female • Long-term mating – female may choose partner who appears able and willing to provide resources for the indefinite future, males avoid sexually available females for short term liaisons • Research with college students found men relax standards when seeking a short term partner (less education, honesty, emotional stability), women’s preference change less than men when looking for a short-term mate, are more likely to seek someone who has resources and is generous with them • Other research has found that men and women are very similar in their mating preferences- both prefer long-term mating strategies and prefer few/no short-term partners • Criticism: some of the characteristics assumed to have adaptive significance may be design flaws or side effects of other adaptations, similar to evolutionary theory bc it is based on assumptions about what the ancestral environment was like • Research shows that male sexual strategies change in response to personal characteristics and environmental contingencies Psychological Theories • Psychoanalytic theory, learning theory, social exchange theory and cognitive theory Psychoanalytic Theory: • Freud’s has been one of the most influential of all the psychological theories – gives full treatment to human sexuality since he saw sex as one of the key forces in human life • Freud termed the sex drive or energy libido – saw it has one of the two major forces motivating human behaviour (other is thanatos or the death instinct) Id, Ego & Superego • Human personality is divided into three major parts: the id, the ego and the superego • Id – basic part of personality and is present at birth – reservoir of psychic energy (including libido) and operates on the pleasure principle • Ego – operates on the reality principle & tries to keep the id in line, makes the person have realistic, rational interactions with others • Superego – conscience, contains the values and ideals of society that we learn and it operates on idealism, inhibits the impulses of the id and persuades the ego to strive for moral goals rather than realistic ones • Id, ego and superego develop sequentially – id contains set of instincts present at birth, ego develops a few years later as the child learns how to interact realistically with environment and people and the superego develops last as the child learns moral values Erogenous Zones • Freud saw libido as being focused in various regions of the body known as erogenous zones • Erogenous zones – part of the skin or mucous membrane that is extremely sensitive to stimulation, touching it in certain ways produces feelings of pleasure, ex/ lips and mouth, genitals, rectum and anus Stages of Psychosexual Development • Freud believed that child passes through a series of stages of development – at each stage a different erogenous zone is the focus of pleasure 1. Oral stage – Birth to 1 year old  Child’s chief pleasure derived from sucking & stimulating the lips and mouth 2. Anal stage – 2 years old  Child’s interest is focused on elimination 3. Phallic stage – 3 years to 5/6 years old  Focus is on the genital area – the boy on phallus (penis) & the girl on her clitoris & they derive great pleasure from masturbating  Development of Oedipus complex is the most important occurrence  Male Oedipus complex: boy loves his mother & desires her sexually but hates his father whom he sees as a rival for the mother’s affection, hostility for father grows but he comes to fear that father will retaliate by castrating him – feels castration anxiety, this anxiety becomes so great that he stops desiring mom and shifts to identifying with dad  Female Oedipus complex: begins with girl’s love for mother and focus on her clitoris, little girl realizes that she has no penis and feels envious or cheated on and suffers from penis envy, shifts desire onto father forming the female OC , resolves penis envy by identifying with her mother & switching erogenous zone from clitoris to vagina  Girls resolution is not as complete as the boys since she is not driven by castration anxiety – for the rest of her life her superego is not as developed as men’s 4. Latency stage – lasts until adolescence  Sexual impulses re repressed or are in a quiescent state, nothing much happens sexually  Weak part of theory as research shows that children do continue to engage in behaviour with sexual components during this period 5. Genital stage  Puberty causes sexual urges to reawaken  Urges become more specifically genital and the oral, anal, and genital urges fuse together to promote the biological function of reproduction • People do not always mature from one stag to the next as they should – may be stuck in one stage, many adults have traces of earlier stages remaining in their personalities Evaluation of Psychoanalytic Theory • Many of the concepts cannot be evaluated scientifically to test for accuracy • Freud postulated that many of the important forces in personality are unconscious and cantht be studied using scientific techniques common in the 20 century • Advances in technology have given us the ability to test Freud’s ideas – with MRI • Freud believed that dreams provide a window into a person’s id, and during sleep activity of the superego and ego are reduced • Research in neuropsychoanalysis has found that activity in the prefrontal area of the brain constrains the bizarre imagery generated by limbic and postcortical regions • During REM sleep - reduction of activity in the former (ego?) & vivid and bizarre dreams are associated with activity in the latter (id?) • Research was derived from Freud’s own patients – theory may provide view of disturbances in human personality • Feminists feel that is it male centered and will cause harm to women, object that women are not biologically inferior to men because they lack a penis, one could argue that men are envious of women’s reproductive capacity à Horney coined the concept of “womb envy” • Criticize distinction between vaginal orgasm & clitoral orgasm – research by Masters & Johnson has shown little to no physiological difference between the two orgasms • Freud’s assertion that vaginal orgasm is more mature – not supported by findings that most adult women orgasm as a result of direct or indirect clitoral stimulation • Freud was able to rise above the sexually repressive Victorian era and show that libido is an important part of personality & recognized that humans pass through stages in their psychological development, made sex an appropriate topic to discuss and research • Many psychoanalysts believe that Freud gave too much importance to biological determinants of behaviour and instincts and not enough to learning and environment • Erik Erikson described how development continues throughout life & doesn’t end at 5 • Object-relation theories describe relationships with other people (especially the relationship child has with primary caretaker) as crucial to development Learning Theory Classical Conditioning • Associated with work of Pavlov • Unconditioned stimulus (appealing food) automatically, reflectively elicits an unconditioned response (salivation) • Process of learning occurs when a new stimulus, the conditioned stimulus (sound of bell) repeatedly is paired with the original unconditioned stimulus (food) and after occurring many times, the conditioned stimulus can eventually be presented without the unconditioned stimulus (food) and will evoke the original response – the conditioned response (salivation) • Experiment done on male students at Queen’s University – control group that was only shown the target slides for 11 trials were less aroused by the target slide following repeated exposure, while experimental group associated the target slide with increased arousal, also seen in women • Explains fetishes Operant Conditioning • Associated with Skinner • A person performs a particular behaviour (the operant) & that behaviour is then followed by either a reward (positive reinforcement) or a punishment – if rewarded, more likely to repeat the behaviour again in the future • Primary reinforcers – there is something intrinsically rewarding about them, ex/ food or sex, male rats trained to learn a maze if they find a willing sexual partner at the end of it Principles of Operant Conditioning • If behaviour is paired repeatedly with a punishment, the behaviour becomes more infrequent • Consequences whether reinforcement or punishment, are most effective in shaping behaviour when they occur immediately after he behaviour – longer they are delayed after the behaviour has occurred, the less effective they become • Compared with rewards, punishments are not very effective in shaping behaviour • Difference between psychoanalytic theory & learning theory is that learning theorists believe sexual behaviour can be learned and changed at anytime during one’s lifespan, while psychoanalytic theories believe that determinants of human sexual behaviour occur in early childhood (oedipal complex period) Behaviour Therapy • Set of techniques based on principles of operant or classical conditioning that are used to change human behaviour or modify problematic behaviours (orgasm problems or compulsive sexual behaviour) • Differ from traditional methods because the problem behaviour is modified using learning-theory principles, therapist does not worry about in-depth analysis of the person’s personality • Often combine with cognitive therapy approaches à CBT Social Learning • Based on principles of operant conditioning but also recognizes that people learn by observing others (observational learning) • Involves two other processes: imitation & identification • Mass media is a source of images of sexuality that young people imitate and personalities that they identify with – often inaccurate & unrealistic • Once behaviour is learned, likelihood of its being performed depends on its consequences – if not reinforced, behaviour is eliminated • Self efficacy – occurs with successful experiences with an activity over time, creates a sense of competence, used in many health promotion programs • Can explain the phenomena of birth rates, adults have fertility intentions (want to have children), recognize that infant mortality can deprive them of offspring, are aware of fertility outcomes of couples they know and interact with – researchers found that Nepalese women network members were related in timing of a woman’s births In Focus 2.1 – Ritualized Same-Sex Sexual Activity in a Non-Western Socity • Melanesia, an area of the southwest Pacific • Homosexual beh
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