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Chapter 2

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Psychology 2075
William Fisher

Chapter 2: Theoretical Perspectives on Sexuality CHAPTER OVERVIEW - Theories provide explanations for sexual phenomena - Sociobiologists think sexual behaviours as the product of natural selection in evolution, and view these behavioural patterns as being genetically controlled - Evolutionary theorists think sexual behaviour as a result of an interaction between evolved mechanisms and environmental influence - Freud’s psychoanalytic theory views the sex energy (libido) as a major influence on personality and behaviour o It was Freud that introduced the concepts of erogenous zones and psychosexual stages of development - Learning theory thinks sexual behaviour is learned and modified through reinforcements and punishments according to principles of operant conditioning o Behaviour therapy techniques—therapies based on learning theory—are used in treating sexual variations and sexual disorders o Social learning theory adds the concepts of imitation, identification and self-efficacy to learning theory - Social exchange theory highlights the role of rewards and costs in relationships - Cognitive psychologists focus on people’s thoughts and perceptions (positive/negative) and how they influence sexuality - Sociologists think of ways in which society influences our sexual expression o At the macro level they investigate the ways in which institutions (i.e., religion, economy, family, medicine, law) influence sexuality - Symbolic interaction theory draws attention to processes of communication and interaction - Sexual scripts provide us with guidelines for behaviour in many situations - Reiss’s sociological theory argues that all societies regard sexuality as important because it is associated with great physical pleasure and self-disclosure Evolutionary Perspectives - Sociobiology – application of evolutionary biology to understanding the social behaviour of animals, including humans o Sociobiologists believe certain sexual behaviours evolved to give our ancestors and evolutionary advantage - Evolution – theory that all living things have acquired their present forms through gradual changes in their genetic endowment over successive generations - Natural selection – process in nature resulting in greater rates of survival of those plants and animals that are adapted to their environment - Believe we choose an mates based on whether we think they are attractive, healthy, and can produce many offspring o View dating as an opportunity for each member of the prospective couple to assess each other’s fitness - Explain the nuclear family structure due to parental investment (behaviour and resources invested in offspring) o Infant vulnerability (mom cares and dad protects) and maternal death o pair-bond for mom-dad and attachment for infant-parent help increase chances of survival for offspring - Men spend equal amount on their genetic children and the stepchildren of their current relationship - Sexual Selection – selection that results from differences in traits affecting access to mates (two [2] processes) o Competition among members of one gender (usually males) for mating access to members of the other gender  i.e., men showing off their cars or buying impressive gifts to show they can provide over another guy o Preferential choice by members of one gender (usually females) for certain members of the other gender - Sociobiologists assume that the central function of sex is reproduction (doesn’t explain homosexuality) - Universal preference for a waist-to-hip ratio at 0.7 ratio - Evolutionary Psychology – study of psychological mechanisms that have been shaped by natural selection o Concentration on sexual strategies (difference in strategy for short-term mating vs. long-term mating) o Seeking a short-term partner requires lower standards (less education, honesty, etc) so it’s more likely to find a mate o Seeking a long-term partner requires higher standards (resources, generosity, etc) o Men and women don’t differ that much regarding strategies Psychological Theories - Psychoanalytic Theory – psychological theory originated by Sigmund Freud; contains basic assumption that part of human personality is unconscious - Freud saw the libido and thanatos (the death instinct) as being the two [2] major forces motivating human behaviour - Libido – in psychoanalytic theory, the term for the sex energy or sex drive Id, Ego, and Superego - Freud described human personality being divided into three [3] parts: Id, Ego, Superego - Id – according to Freud, the part of the personality containing the libido o Operates under pleasure principle; develops at birth - Ego – according to Freud, the part of the personality that helps the person have realistic, rational interactions o Operates under reality principle; develops a few years later, as child learns to interact realistically with environment - Superego – according to Freud, the part of the personality containing the conscience o Operates on idealism; develops last as child learns moral values - Erogenous Zones – areas of the body that are particularly sensitive to sexual stimulation o Freud saw libido being focused in various regions of the body (i.e., lips and mouth) Stages of Psychosexual Development - Oral Stage (0-1) – mouth fixation - Anal Stage (2-3) – anal retention or anal expulsion - Phallic Stage (4-5) – genital fixation - Oedipus complex – according to Freud, the sexual attraction of a little boy for his mother o Freud considered Oedipus complex and its resolution to be a key factor in human personality development o Boy hates his father (sees him as rival for mothers affection) but eventually comes to fear father (castration anxiety) o Eventually identifies self with father taking on his gender role and acquiring the characteristics expected by males - Female Oedipus/Electra complex – according to Freud, the sexual attraction of a little girl for her father o Girl love for mother and focus on her clitoris, observes she has no penis (feels cheated--penis envy) o Girl shifts love for mother onto her father, resolving penis envy by identifying with mother and switching her erogenous zone from her clitoris to her vagina in order to have a baby (son as substitute for not having penis) o Freud wrote girls superegos are not as developed as men’s because they don’t fully complete Oedipus complex - Latency Stage (6-12) – sexual impulses repressed (according to Freud) but clear that they still engage in behaviour - Genital Stage (puberty+) – focus on reproduction - Freud stated that people can become fixated (i.e., oral fixation = smoking, biting finger nails) Evaluation of Psychoanalytic Theory - Major problem is it can’t be evaluated scientifically - Feminists argue that his theory is male-centred and view women as inferior to men o Could easily argue that men have envy over women’s reproductive capacity o Karen Horney (1973) – womb envy - Freud’s assertion that vaginal orgasm is more mature is not supported by findings as a result of direct/indirect clitoral stimulation - Freud took sex out of the closet, brought it to the attention of the general public, and suggested that we talk about it and study it scientifically Learning Theory Classical Conditioning (Ivan Pavlov) – the learning process in which a previously neutral stimulus (conditioned stimulus) is repeatedly paired with an unconditioned stimulus that reflexively elicits and unconditioned response. Eventually, the conditioned stimulus itself will evoke the response Operant Conditioning (B. F. Skinner) – the process of changing the frequency of a behaviour (the operant) by following it with positive/negative reinforcement (which will make the behaviour more frequent in the future) or punishment (which should make the behaviour less frequent in the future) o Whether reinforcement/punishment, they are most effective when they occur immediately after the behaviour (the longer they are delayed the less effective they become) o Compared with rewards, punishments are not very effective in shaping behaviour - Psychoanalytic theorists believe that human sexual behaviour learning occurs in early childhood (Oedipal complex) - Learning theorists think sexual behaviour can be learned and changed at any time in one’s lifespan Behaviour Therapy – a set of techniques based on principles of classical or operant conditioning used to modify human behaviour o Therapist doesn’t focus on in-depth analysis of the person’s personality (unconscious factors) o Therapist only focuses on
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