Psychology 2075 Chapter Notes - Chapter 10: Masturbation, Church Attendance, Vaginal Lubrication

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Chapter 10: Sexuality and the Life Cycle
Sex is more than just having heterosexual sexual intercourse
Sexual development is a process that occurs throughout the lifespan
oInfluenced by biological, psychological, social and cultural factors
Data Sources
Much of the data on sexuality come from self-reports, so may be subject to reporting biases such
as exaggeration and purposeful concealment
oMay be subject to errors due to loss of memory about specific events
There is a widespread belief that children are not sexual beings and should not be exposed to
questions about sex
An innovation is the use of a “talking” computer to interview children
oThe computer is programmed to present the questions through headphones and the child
enters their answers by using the keyboard
oThis process preserves confidentiality because only the child knows the question
oMore children reported sexual experience to the computer than in face-to-face interviews
The studies of child and adolescent sexual behaviour have mostly involved surveys that have
used either questionnaire or interviews
The sexual attitudes and behaviour of children and adolescents in Canada are affected by culture
oCauses a lot of conflict between parents and children who are trying to match the
expectations of sexuality of the dominant culture
Infancy and the Preschool Years (Birth-4 Years)
Before 1890, it was thought that sexuality was something that magically appeared at puberty
Freud first expressed the notion that children and infants have sexual urges and engage in sexual
The capacity of the human body to show a sexual response is present from birth
Male infants get erections
oBoy babies are sometimes born with erection
oUltrasounds have shown that reflex erections occur in the male fetus for several months
before birth
Vaginal lubrication has been found in baby girls in the 24 hours after birth
The first intimate relationship most children experience is with their mother and perhaps their
Breastfeeding, diaper changing or bathing and caring involve intimate contact that can produce
sensuous responses in the infant
Attachment a psychological bond that forms between an infant and the mother, father or other
The bond begins in the hours immediately following birth and continues throughout the period of
It is facilitated by cuddling and other forms of physical contact
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Later, attachments form to other familiar people
oThese are the person’s earliest experiences with love and emotional attachment
The quality of these attachments affects the person’s capacity for emotional attachments in
Adults’ styles of romantic attachment re similar to the kinds of attachment they remember having
with their parents in childhood
Infants often fondle their own genitals
Between 6-12 months of age, infants discover their genitals by unintentionally touching them
They learn to walk, their coordination improves and by 15-19 months some boys and girls
increase genital touching
Infants touching their genitals is normal and does not indicate pathology
Orgasms from self-stimulation are possible at this early age, but before puberty boys are not
capable of ejaculation
Child-Child Encounters
Infants and young children are very self-centered
By the age of 4-5, children have become more social
oBoys and girls may hug each other, hold hands, etc.
“Playing doctor” can be a popular game
oIt generally involves exhibiting one’s own genitals, looking at those of others and perhaps
engaging in a little fondling or touching
Some children first learn about sexual behaviour by seeing or hearing their parents engaging in
oFreud believed that this could inhibit the child’s psychosexual development
But, data suggests that the experience is not damaging
Sexual Knowledge and Interests
In the early preschool years, children become interested in sexuality and begin to develop a
simple understanding of some aspects but their knowledge is typically vague
Preschoolers are often interested in viewing people nude and they may touch their mother’s or
other women’s breasts
They become interested in different postures for urinating
oSome girls attempt to urinate while standing up
Children at this age are very affectionate, want to hug and kiss their parents
oMay even propose marriage to the parent of the other gender
By age 5, children have formed a concept of marriage (at least its non-genital aspects)
Many may turn to their peers for learning while they play games like doctor
Children from ages 2-6 were shown a drawing of an unclothed child or adult
oThe 3-4 year olds correctly identified whether it was male or female
But when asked to explain why, they usually gave answers based on
characteristics such as hair
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oThe 5-6 year olds provided explanations based on genitals
oBy age 4, 80% of the children knew some term for the genitals
Children’s sex play at this age is motivated largely by curiosity and is part of the general learning
experiences of childhood
Knowledge About Gender
By age 2.5-3, children know what gender they are
oAwareness of being a boy or a girl motivates them to be like other members of that group
By ages 4-6, ideas about gender are very rigid
Childhood (5-11 Years)
Adrenarche the maturation of the adrenal glands, resulting in increased secretion of
oOccurs around 8-10 years of age in both boys and girls
Some sex hormone action occurs in childhood, well before adolescence
The average age that people recall first experiencing sexual attraction to another person was at
age 10, probably due to adrenrche
About 40% of university students recall masturbating before puberty
Boys generally start masturbating earlier than girls
About 40% of boys and 20% of girls report orgasms from masturbation by age 12
Boys and girls tend to learn about masturbation in different ways
oBoys are typically told by their male peers and see their peers doing it or they read about
oGirls usually learn about it through accidental self-discovery
Mixed-Sex Behaviour
There is generally little mixed-sex behaviour during childhood
oDue to rigid gender roles during this time
Children commonly hear about heterosexual intercourse for the first time during this period
oChildren’s reactions are usually a combination of shock and disbelief
There is some boy-girl contact at this stage
oKissing, hugging, showing their genitals (17-44% reported this happened between ages 6-
Canadian youth who engage in intercourse during preadolescence are more likely to report
having a poor relationship with their parents, having pressure to engage in unwanted sex, having
used drugs and believing that they must break the rules to be popular
Same-Sex Behaviour
Same-sex sexual activity is a normal part of the sexual development of children
Gender-Segregated Social Organization a form of social grouping in which males play and
associate with other males and females play and associate with other females
oThe genders are separate from each other
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