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Chapter 12

Human Adjustment Chapter 12

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Psychology 2030A/B
Michelle Everest

CHAPTER 12: DEVELOPMENT AND EXPRESSION OF SEXUALITY Key Aspects of Sexual Identity • sexual identity: to refer to the complex set of personal qualities, self-perceptions, attitudes, values, and preferences that guide one’s sexual behavior o sense of yourself as a sexual person 1. Sexual orientation: is an individual’s preference for emotional and sexual relationships with individuals of one gender or the other 2. Body image: how you see yourself physically. Your view of your physical self affects how you feel about yourself in the sexual domain a. Positive body image is correlated with greater sexual activity, higher sexual satisfaction, and fewer sexual problems 3. Sexual values and ethics: can take the form of absolutism (no sexual activity outside of marriage), relativism (the relationship determines whether sexual activity is appropriate), or hedonism (anything goes) a. the nature of these sexual messages are culture-specific and vary depending on gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status b. for example: the double standard where girls are supposed to be prudes and guys can have sex with whomever, this forms how we act and behave 4. Erotic preferences: one’s erotic preferences encompass one’s attitudes about self- stimulation, oral sex, intercourse, and other sexual activities a. A recent study showed that although men and women were equally interested in erotic photos, they differed in terms of their preferences for the sexual activities depicted b. Develop from a complex interplay of psychological and physiological preferences Physiological Influences • physiological factors have important effects on sexual development • Their influence on sexual anatomy is much greater than their influence on sexual activity Hormones and Sexual Differentiation • During the prenatal period, a number of biological developments result in a fetus that is male or female o Around the third month of prenatal development, different hormonal secretions begin to be produced by male and female gonads-> the sex glands  in males, the testes produce androgens->the principal class of male sex hormones  in females, the ovaries produce estrogens -> he principal class of female sex hormones o intersex individuals-> typically have both testicular and ovarian tissue  sexual differentiation is incomplete and individuals are born with ambiguous genitals, sex organs, or sex chromosomes • At puberty, hormones reassert their influence on sexual development o Adolescents attain reproductive capacity as hormonal changes trigger the maturation of the primary sex characteristics, the structures necessary for reproduction (sex organs) o hormonal shifts also regulate the development of secondary sex characteristics (physical features that distinguish the genders but are )t directly involved in reproduction) o In females, the onset of puberty is typically signalled by menarche—the first occurrence of menstruation  Reach menarche btwn ages of 12-13 until 16 o In males, no clear cut marker for onset of sexual maturity, spermarche - the first ejaculation, usually occurs through masturbation  Average age is 13 with complete sexual maturation at about 18 Hormones and Sexual Behavior • Hormonal fluctuations clearly regulate sex drive • Androgen levels appear to be related to sexual motivation in both men and women, although the effect is less strong in women • high levels of testosterone in men and women correlate with higher rates of sexual activity • estrogen levels among women do not correlate well with sexual interest o researchers found no hormonal fluctuation differences between women diagnosed with hypoactive (low) sexual desire disorder and those without Psychosocial Influences Families • significant influences on sexual identity in early years • parents who punish children for asking about sexuality may cause their child to feel guilty about their sexual urges and curiosity • young people feel dissatisfied with the sexual information they receive from their parents o a national survey of adolescents and young adults (ages 13 to 24), only 37% felt that they learned “a lot” of information about relationships and sexual health from their parents • adolescents who feel close to their parents and have an open relationship about sex are likely to adopt sexual attitudes like their parents and limit or delay their sexual activity • parents who are not open with sexuality or think it is taboo reduce their influence on their kids’ evolving sexual identity Peers • friends are a leading source of relationship and sexual heal information • sexual attitudes and behaviors are positively associated with their perceptions of their friends sexual attitudes and behaviors • can be a source of misinformation and different from parent’s views School • 64%of 13-to 17-year-olds indicated that they were taking or have taken a sex ED course • A survey of public, middle, junior and senior high schools reported that o 90% of schools offered some type of sex education o 30% offered abstinence only programs o 47% offered abstinence plus programs(contraception, STDs) o 20% offered comprehensive programs(contraception, abortion, STDs, relationships, sexual orientation and responsible decision making)  comprehensive programs result in a wide range of positive outcomes: increased use of contraception, reduced pregnancies, and reduced high risk sexual behavior Religion • plays a major role in sexual identity but they do not influence sexual behavior • ex: teens who pledge to save their self for marriage because of their religion are just as sexually active than those who aren’t saving themselves, they just feel more guilty about it Gender Differences in Sexual Socialization • Men have more interest in sex than women • The connection between sex and intimacy is more important for women than for men • Aggression is more often linked to sexuality for men than for women • Women’s sexuality is more easily shaped by cultural and situational factors • Among heterosexual couples, men typically take the lead in initiating sexual intimacy, while women serve as “gatekeepers” • Men are more likely to experiment with sex and engage in casual sex • Females are taught to view sex in the context of a loving relationship with one partner, sexually active women may be seen as easy • Sexual socialization takes longer for women because of emotional baggage such as o Fear of pregnancy o Females hear negative messages about sex and men o Women typically develop negative associations about their genitals and sex o Sexual guilt • For both genders, sexual satisfaction is related to relationship satisfaction • Homosexual couples are less likely to have problems with expectations than straight couples • Lesbians experience emotional attraction before sexual • Gay men put importance on physical appearance and sexual compatibility more than emotional relationships Sexual Orientation Key Consideration • Important to view heterosexuality and homosexuality as end points on a continuum • Williams(2009) says that sexual orientation has several components o Sexual attraction -> gender one desires as a sexual partner o Romantic attraction -> which gender one establishes warm, loving relationships with o Sexual behavior -> which gender one is sexually involved with o Sexual identity -> self-reported orientation o These components are not always consistent with each other and are not always stable over time • In 2000, 1.2 million Americans said they were living with a same-sex partner o 5% - 8% of the population could be identified as homosexual Origins • No real reason as to why people are gay or straight • There are a number of environmental explanations that have been suggested as causes of sexual orientation o Freud believed that homosexuality originates from an unresolved Oedipus complex  Instead of coming to identify with the parent of the same gender, the child continues to identify with the parent of the other gender o Learning theorists assert that homosexuality results from early negative heterosexual encounters or early positive homosexual experiences o Sociologists propose that homosexuality develops because of poor relationships with same gender peers or because being labeled a homosexual sets up a self- fulfilling prophecy o there is nothing to support any of these explanations for sexual orientation • there is no evidence that parents’ sexual orientation is linked to their children o heterosexual parents are as likely to have gay (or straight) children as homosexual parents are o children who grow up in a gay or lesbian families are predominantly heterosexual • Rieger (2008) found that pre-homosexual children(those who are gay adults) were more gender nonconforming than their pre-heterosexual counterparts • Genetics o A concordance rate indicates the percentage of twin pairs or other pairs of relatives that exhibit the same characteristic o If relatives who share more genetic relatedness show higher similarity rates than relatives who share less genetic overlap, this evidence suggests a genetic predisposition to the characteristics o Recent studies of both gay men and lesbian women have found higher similarity rates among identical twins than fraternal twins, who, in turn, exhibit more similarity than adoptive siblings o These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that genetic factors influence sexual orientation Attitudes towards Homosexuality • Americans’ attitudes toward gays are highly variable, depending on the specific issue • Women are generally more accepting than men o 89% believe homosexuals should have equal rights in terms of job opportunities o 60% believe gay couples should have the same rights and benefits as married couples o 28% support marriage rights for gays o 23% support civil unions o 43% support no legal recognition • Homophobia (Sexual Prejudice) is the intense fear and intolerance of homosexuals o lowest levels of sexual prejudice ire associated with individuals who personally know someone who is gay o higher levels of sexual prejudice are associated with being older, male, less educated, and living I the South or Midwest and in rural areas o also correlated with psychological factors such as  authoritarianism  traditional gender – role attitudes  conservative religious and political beliefs o negative attitudes sometimes turn into hate crimes rd  1/3 of gay men and lesbian women have been victims of a hate crime  23% have been threatened with violence  49% reported verbal harassment o People who view homosexuality as a biological or genetic origin (uncontrollable) have more favorable attitudes than those who think it’s a choice o There are also more African Americans than whites who supports and endorse choice as a sexual orientation Disclosing one’s Sexual Orientation • For gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. Sexual identity development involves acknowledging, recognizing, and labeling one’s sexual orientation, conceptualizing it in positive terms, and disclosing it to others • The quality of a parent-child relationship prior to disclosure may be the best predictor of how parents will initially react and adjust to their child’s coming out o At least ½ of gay and lesbian teenagers reported they had lost at least one friend because of their sexual orientation • Individuals must balance the psychological and social benefits(being honest, having social support) against the costs (losing friends, being fired, hate crimes) o A pragmatic solution to this conflict is rational outness – being as open as possible because it feels healthy to be honest and as closed as necessary to protect against discrimination • People are more likely to disclose their sexual orientation to close heterosexual friends and siblings than to parents, co-workers or employers Adjustments • Sexual orientations doesn’t impair psychological adjustment in gay and straight individuals, couples and parents • There is no evidence of elevated psychopathology in nonclinical samples of bisexual men and women • exposure to sexual prejudice and discrimination can cause acute distress • recent studies suggest that gay males and lesbians are at greater risk than their straight peers for anxiety, depression, self-injurious behavior, substance dependence, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts • 33% of same-gender female couples and 22% of same-gender male couples have children o children of gay or lesbian parents are no different than children of heterosexual parents in terms of self-esteem, gender roles, sexual orientation, peer group relationships school outcomes, or social adjustment • a recent meta-analysis states that children from homosexual and heterosexual parents are equally well adjusted Interacting in Sexual Relationships Motives for engaging in sex • motives are numerous, diverse and ranging from purely physical to deeply emotional • Approach and Avoidance Motives o approach motives focus on obtaining positive outcomes:  1) pursuing one’s own sexual pleasure  2) feeling good about oneself  3) pleasing one’s partner  4) promoting intimacy a relationship  5) expressing love for one’s partner o avoidance motives center on evading negative outcomes  1) avoiding relationship conflict  2) avoiding hurting a partner’s feelings  3) preventing a partner’s anger  4) preventing a partner from losing interest • sexual encounters based on approach motives are positively associated with personal and relationship well-being • sexual interactions based on avoidance motives are negatively associated with relationship satisfaction and are especially detrimental to relationships’ continuing Communicating about Sex • Although it is important, people are often reluctant to talk about sex o Knowledge is power • Understanding yourself and your body are key components to healthy sexuality • Couples can encounter four common barriers to sexual communication: o Fear of appearing ignorant o Concern about partner’s response  more extensive disclosure of sexual likes and dislikes positively predicts sexual and relationship satisfaction in committed relationships o Conflicting attitudes about sex o Negative early sexual experiences • A person’s sexual self-esteem is a strong predictor of his or her ability to communicate about sex The Human Sexual Response The Sexual Response Cycle Phases Male Female Excitement: - vasocongestion – - vasocongestion – - level of arousal produces erection, swelling of the clit and escalates quickly swollen testes, scrotum vaginal lips, vaginal - muscle tension, moves closer to the lubrication, enlargement respiration rate, heart body of uterus rate, blood pressure Anatomical/physiologic increase quickly responses: - nipples get hard - Upper two thirds of - sex flush vagina expand - vasocongestion – - Cervical-uterine engorgement of blood retraction vessels - Clitoris sensitivity increases due to blood engorgement Plateau: - the head of the penis - the lower third of the - Arousal continues to swells, the testicles vagina tightens, and the build enlarge and move closer
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