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Chapter 1-4

Psychology 2075 Chapter 1-4: Textbook Notes unit 1

Course Code
PSYCH 2075
William Fisher

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Human Sexuality
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Chapter 1 - Sexuality in Perspective
Sex and Gender
-The word sex is use ambiguously
-Male or female
-Sexual behaviour and reproduction
-Gender: Used to refer to the state of being male or female
-Sexual Behaviour: Behaviour that produces arousal and increases the chance of an orgasm
Influences on Sexuality
-Each religion has different views on what is right and what is wrong with respect to sexuality
-Ancient Greeks openly acknowledged both heterosexuality and homosexuality in their society
-Fifteenth-century Christians believed that “wet dreams” (nocturnal emissions) results from their intercourse with tiny
spiritual creatures called incubi and succubi
-Wet dreams, sexual dysfunction, and sexual lust were seen to be causes by witchcraft
-Muslims believe that sexual intercourse is one of the finest pleasure of life, reflecting the teachings of the great prophet
-Dutch microscopist Anton van Leeuwenhoek discovered sperm swimming in human semen
-Oskar Hertwig observed the fertilization of the effe by the sperm in sea urchins, although the ovum in humans was not
directly observed until the 20th century
-Henry Havelock Ellis compiled a vast collection of information on sexuality-inducing medical and anthropological
findings and case histories (Studies in the Psychology of Sex)
-He believed that women, like men, are sexual creatures
-German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing (Psychopathia Sexualis) He created the concepts of sadism, masochism,
and pedophilia
-Magnus Hirschfeld founded the first sex research institute and administered the first large-scale sex surgery, obtaining data
10,000 people on a 130 item questionnaire
-Alfred Kinsey & William Masters, along with Virginia Johnson conducted numerous studies that helped with sex
-The Media:
-References to safer-sex for prevention of both sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy-are rare, only 2
percent of sexual scenes portray an sexual precautions !

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-Communications theorists believe that the media can have three types of influences:
-Cultivation: In communications theory the view that exposure to the mass media makes people think that what they
see there represents the mainstream of what really occurs
-Agenda-Settings: In communications theory, the idea that the media define what is important and what is not by which
stories they cover
-Social Learning: In communications theory, the idea that the media provide role models who we imitate
-The Internet:
-Many individuals engage in sexual activity online
-People are only accessing sexual material that is posted on the Internet by other people but also sharing explicit
information and pictures of themselves through wed-cams, instant messaging, and smartphones; engaging in sexual
activity with known and anonymous partners; and engaging in sexual activity through virtual worlds
Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Sexuality
-Culture: Traditional ideas and values passed down from generation to generation within a group and transmitted to members
of the group by symbols
-Ethnocentrism: The tendency to regard our own ethnic group and culture as superior to others’ and to believe that its
customs and way of life are the standards by which other cultures should be judged
-We tend to view our sexual behaviour as the only pattern in existence and certainly as the only “natural” pattern
-Incest Taboos: Regulations prohibiting sexual interaction between close blood relatives
-No society has seen fit to leave sexuality totally unregulated, perhaps fearful that social distribution would result
-Most societies also condemn forced sexual relations, such as rape
Variations in Sexual Techniques
-Cunnilingus variation on the island of Ponape; the man places a fish in the woman’s vulva and then gradually licks it out
-Inflicting pain on a partner is also a part of the sexual technique in some societies
-People of various societies bite their partners to the point of drawing blood and leaving scars
-Masturbation: Sexual self-stimulation of the genitals, vary widely across cultures
-Premarital and Extramarital Sex:
-90% of Pacific Island societies permit premarital sex, as do 88 percent of African and 82 percent of Eurasian societies;
however, 73 percent of Mediterranean societies prohibit premarital sex
-Extramarital sex ranks second only to incest as the most strictly prohibited type of sexual contact
-Sex with Same-Sex Partners:
-Although wide variation exists in attitudes toward homosexuality and in same-sex sexual activity, two general rules do
seem to emerge
1. No matter what society’s views are, same-sex behaviour always occurs in at least some individuals that is, same
sex sexuality is found universally
2. Same-sex sexual activity is never the predominant form of sexual behaviour for adults in any of the societies
-Standards of Attractiveness:
-Physical characteristics are important in determining whom one chooses as a sex partner

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-Our society’s standards are in the minority in one way: in most cultures, a plump woman is considered more attractive
than a thin one
-A poor complexion is considered unattractive in the majority of human societies
-Regional and Cultural Variation in Sexuality:
-Canadian population is composed of many cultural and ethnic groups, these groups have both differences and
similarities in sexual behaviour
-Variations in sexual behaviour and attitudes between French-speaking and English-speaking Canadians of European
descent / Aboriginal Canadians
-Social Class and Sex:
-There was little difference in the percentage of respondents who had engaged in sexual intercourse ever or in the
past 12 months based on social class-most respondents in all social classes has done so
-Lower social classes were more likely to have first engaged in intercourse when they were 15 years old or
younger and to have had one or more sexually transmitted infections
-Regional Differences in Sexuality:
-Results of various servers do not sow consistent differences from one province to another, with one exception:
francophones in Quebec often are more liberal in many of their attitudes and behaviour than Canadians in other
-Comparing Canada and the United States:
-Canada and US are quite different
-Canadians are more liberal than Americans are
-More accepting of premarital sex, abortion, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and even extramarital sex
-Canadian women also have lower rates of adolescent pregnancy and STIs
-Aboriginal Peoples and Sexuality:
-Aboriginal women experiences a disproportionally high rate of negative sexual outcomes, including high rates of
STI’s, unwanted pregnancy, low-birth weight infants, and sexual violence
-Great pressure in the youth culture to have sex
-Ethnocultural Communities in Canada and Sexuality:
-Examining sexual behaviour and attitudes from 6 ethnic communities (focus groups & questionnaires)
-Chinese, South Asian, Horn of Africa, English-speaking Caribbean, North African Muslim, and Latin American
-The sexual behaviour of individuals from ethnic minorities is influenced both by the culture of their country of
origin and by the process of adapting to Canada’s majority culture
-The Significance of Cross-Cultural Studies:
-Gives us a notion of the enormous variation that exists in human sexual behaviour and helps us put our own
behaviour into perspective
-Provides impressive evidence concerning the importance of culture and learning in the shaping of our sexual
behaviour - shows us that human sexual behaviour is not completely determined by biology or drives or instincts
Cross-Species Perspectives on Sexuality
-Masturbation is found among many species of mammals, particularly among the primates
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