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The assessment of sexual arousal and sexual orientation

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An established indicator of sexual attraction are people’s genital responses to sexual stimuli. These responses are recorded by assessing changes in penile circumference or vaginal blood flow. Genital arousal is a strong indicator of male sexual attraction, and, to a lesser extend, of female sexual attraction. Because genital arousal to sexual stimuli is less likely under people’s conscious control than their self-reported sexual attraction, it is preferred to self-report by researchers who seek automatic responses. However, due to the invasive nature of these measures, it is sometimes advisable to employ alternative measures. The measurement of pupil dilations to sexual stimuli is a rediscovered method of assessing automatic sexual arousal. I will present research that highlights the utility of each of these measures for the understanding of humans sexual orientation, and will point to how these measures aid us in describing notoriously understudied sexual minorities.

This talk is part of the Social Psychology Seminar Series (SPSS) series.

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