Human Sexuality and Gender/Research

Previous Chapter Overview Next Chapter


History of Sexuality ResearchEdit

Early Sex ResearchersEdit

Sigmund FreudEdit

Sigmund Freud was born in Freiberg, Moravia on May 6, 1856 to his Jewish father and his second wife. At a young age, Sigmund was considered to be very brilliant and was given the best education his parents could afford, and eventually would graduate from the University of Vienna in 1881. With a degree in medicine, he would find his interest in the realm of the mind and would be greatly influenced by Charles Darwin and his work on the theory of evolution. He worked for a local psychiatric clinic, and from there he started up his research on human behavior. He then received a scholarship to study in France in order to solve the mystery behind the condition of hysteria in women (conversion disorder). Because of the discovery that many of the women he treated being merely sexually frustrated, Freud came under the impression that most all mental illnesses were caused by an underlying sexual problem. Today such notions have been proved wrong and that there are many other causes of mental instability other than the individual’s sex drive.[1] However, Freud is considered a pioneer in the study of human sexuality. He was the first to theorize that sexuality existed throughout a person’s life beginning at infancy. In 1905, Freud published his work, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. Freud’s psychosexual development theory was the greatest major advancement on the study of sexuality of his time, and even today psychologists still use Freud’s theory for consideration when studying human sexuality. According to Freud, humans have libido which is the notion of organically generated instinctual energy. Freud came up with the different stages to sexuality: the oral stage, anal stage, phallic stage, latency, and genital stage. The oral stage begins during infancy, and each stage is experienced until the child reaches adolescence, ending with the genital stage.

Freud had a wide range of interest he was a master pros stylist and an uncompromising thinker. Not all Freud‘s theories were received at first. Freud discovered that his theories on the sexuality of children cause some controversy and he became an outcast among other scientist. Freud wrote 4 major books The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905), Totem and Taboo (1913), and Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1919). These book based on the theories of Freud has earned him the title “the founder of psychoanalysis”.[1]


Thanks to Sigmund Freud, society is more accepting to the study of sexuality along with sexuality itself.Psychologist and society are more accepting to the concepts of Freud’s theories. They are also becoming more knowledgeable on his earlier works and how they correspond to our behaviors.[2]

Alfred KinseyEdit

Alfred Kinsey was an American researcher who was known for his many studies in sexual behavior. In particular, Kinsey did one study about human males that turned up results about the sexual balance of males. Kinsey states that there are “patterns of sexual behavior and that these two types (homosexual and heterosexual) are represented in the sexual world, and that there is only a small number of "bisexuals" who occupy an intermediate position between the other groups” (Kinsey). Kinsey also finds that within his studies that looking back to documented history, that individuals were “exclusively either homosexual or heterosexual both in experience and in psychic reactions” (Kinsey). He also found that there were a very small group of individuals who experienced both types of behaviors, which led Kinsey to state that, “Males do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual” (Kinsey). This indicates that while an individual can be either homosexual or heterosexual, there are more than just two types of sexuality represented by the population

Richard von Krafft-EbingEdit

Richard von Krafft-Ebing was a German sexologist who wrote the book Psychopathia Sexualis. According to the book, various forms of sexual behavior and arousal were considered disgusting. He believed that there existed numerous sexual behaviors and sexual practices which he called 'natural variations' and that all of them are of the same phenomenon. These sexual deviations were classified into four different groups: sadism, masochism, fetishism, and homosexuality. Krafft-Ebing emphasizes that the hand is one the most common fetishes and often joined by masochistic and sadistic behaviors. He wrote that homosexuality was a natural occurrence and that it is not a chosen vice. Krafft-Ebing essentially brought to light the fact that homosexuality exists and it is not a disease but a natural occurring for those individuals who are homosexual (Bauer, 2003)

William Masters and Virginia JohnsonEdit

William Howell Masters and Virginia Eshelman Johnson pioneered research on human sexual behavior in the 1950s and 1960s. They are a husband and wife duo who while working together to prove many of the long standing misconceptions wrong about sexual behavior. They released their most important, ground breaking study that would change how people viewed sexual responses. The four stage model of the human sexual response cycle was released in 1966 and it made an important impact. These stages included excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. The model defined the sexual function as just with a man and woman with the women reaching orgasm and the males ejaculating. (Fuhrmann, H. J., & Buhi, E. R.,2009)

Problems and Issues in Sex ResearchEdit

Sample MethodsEdit

Sexuality is often considered a taboo subject in modern western society, therefore, is the most difficult to obtain reliable data. However, with the use of the survey methods, information is easily obtained from large groups. Because of this, there is the potential for both representativeness and the size of the samples to be more adequate for generalizations to larger groups of people (1985). Using a large group to identify the traits and habits of the population is much more reliable, although not completely accurate in the same sense, than focusing on a small case study or a small group in an experiment to draw a conclusion about the general population. The individuals who choose to participate in an experiment is already a source of unreliable date because the question has to be asked of why exactly they chose to volunteer in the first place. One of the most comprehensive sexuality studies in the U.S known as The Janus Report was largely criticized for not actually having information from a random sampling. The Americans in the study were willing to talk about and engage in wider varieties of sexual behaviors.[6]

Volunteer BiasEdit

Volunteer bias can create major problems for any type of research. Some psychologists believe that people who volunteer for research have different characteristics from those who don’t volunteer. This is thought to be especially true in regards to sex research, sex being a more taboo topic for some. The Volunteer Bias and Personality Traits is Sexual Standards research sought to see if there was stronger volunteer bias in sex surveys verses a survey of a more general topic. The study surveyed 126 males 128 females in an introductory psychology course at a Midwestern Canadian university. The study began with the students completing Jackson’s (1967) Personality Research Form to assess the student's personalities. They were then assigned to be mailed either a sexual standard’s questionnaire (experimental group) or parent-child relations questionnaire (control group). Returning these questionnaires was not required for the course. It was hypothesized that the volunteers who returned the sexual standards survey would stand out as an atypical group. However, when relating back to the personality research forms, personalities were about the same as those who returned the parent-child relations questionnaire. Other research (Rosenthal & Rosnow, 1969) found distinct difference in volunteers and non-volunteers.[7]

Researcher BiasEdit

Through methods of sexual research we are able to obtain more information on today's society, but some things pose complications. Often researchers will already be somewhat biased based on their cultural or social status causing slight mistakes to some data. It has even been found that some scientists will ignore what scientific data is telling them and distort it for their own purpose. There is also intervention from lobbyists and conservative groups preventing major funding of research methods claiming there is no value to protecting the health of our people. If solutions can be found for these problems, research methods could have a tendency to find ways to help control the spread of HIV and disease in the country.[8] Using college students for sexual research also can be biased. In a research for college students 310 men and 399 women complete an anonymous questionnaire and were asked for their willingness to volunteer for a similar questionnaire study, a study involving similar questions but in a face-to-face interview, and watch sexually explicit videos. Both men and women agreed to participate in the questionnaire study but more men than women were willing to participate in the other two studies. Men were interested in the video study while women were interested in face to face interview. Compared to non-volunteers, volunteers for either study were sexually experienced, held less traditional sexual attitudes, scored higher on measures of sexual esteem and sexual sensation seeking, and indicated greater tendencies toward interpersonal exploitation and self-monitoring of expressive behavior. A minority had some discomfort while completing the current questionnaire. However, discomfort was unrelated to gender or willingness to participate in future studies. LastWiederman, M.W. (1999). Volunteer bias in sexuality research using college student participants . Journal of Sex Research , 36(1), 59-66.

ReferencesEdit

1.Haeberle, Erwin J. "Pioneers of Sex Research." Der WWW2-Webserver — Portal. The Continuum Publishing Company, 1983. Web. 02 May 2011. <http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/ATLAS_EN/html/pioneers_of_sex_research.html>.#Case

6. Griffitt and Hatfield, . (1985). Human Sexual Behavior. Retrieved October 20, 2010, from http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/BIB/HTF/methiss.htm#Case. Welch, Kelly. Think Human Sexuality 2011. Boston: Pearson, 2011. Print.

  1. Haeberle, Erwin J. "Pioneers of Sex Research." Der WWW2-Webserver — Portal. The Continuum Publishing Company, 1983. Web. 02 May 2011. <http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/ATLAS_EN/html/pioneers_of_sex_research.html>.
  2. Garcia, J. (1995). Freud's Psychosexual Stage Conception: A Developmental Metaphor for Counselors. Journal of Counseling & Development, 73(5), 498-502. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.