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Psycasm is the exploration of the world psychological. Every day phenomenon explained and manipulated to one's own advantage. Written by a slightly overambitious undergrad, Psycasm aims at exploring a whole range of social and cognitive processes in order to best understand how our minds, and those mechanisms that drive them, work.

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

And now for something completely different (or depending on your history folder, something exceedingly familiar)...

I'm going to begin this post with a copy of an Abstract from a paper entitled 'The pleasure is momentary…the expense damnable? The influence of pornography on rape and sexual assault' (Ferguson & Hartley, 2009) in Aggression and Violent behaviour.

The effects of pornography, whether violent or non-violent, on sexual aggression have been debated for decades. The current review examines evidence about the influence of pornography on sexual aggression in correlational and experimental studies and in real world violent crime data. Evidence for a causal relationship between exposure to pornography and sexual aggression is slim and may, at certain times, have been exaggerated by politicians, pressure groups and some social scientists. Some of the debate has focused on violent pornography, but evidence of any negative effects is inconsistent, and violent pornography is comparatively rare in the real world. Victimization rates for rape in the United States demonstrate an inverse relationship between pornography consumption and rape rates. Data from other nations have suggested similar relationships. Although these data cannot be used to determine that pornography has a cathartic effect on rape behavior, combined with the weak evidence in support of negative causal hypotheses from the scientific literature, it is concluded that it is time to discard the hypothesis that pornography contributes to increased sexual assault behavior.

(Ferguson & Hartley, 2009)

Controversial? Perhaps. I haven't enough time to really consider the ins-and-outs of both sides of the debate, and so in the interest of fairness I encourage rebuttal in the comments section. I will put my cards on the table though - I suspect that the above position is the correct one. And in support of this position, I also offer a counter to some arguments I have heard against porn:

1. Porn kills the 'real' sex drive in men

2. Porn creates unrealistic/unnatural/antisocial sexual schemas for men.

Weinberg and friends (2008) suggest that porn (as viewed by American College students) tends to 'expand' sexual schemas, rather than replace them. They found (to be very brief) that that there was a positive relationship between increased viewing of Porn and a more expansive acceptance of sexual acts considered appropriate. Across various groups these acts included oral sex (giving and receiving), the use of sex toys, and anal sex (rates of acceptance varied between groups - hetero-, homo-, male, female). They also suggest that viewing porn contributes to a greater frequency of engaging in the sexual act (at least in part; except for homosexual men), yet, at the same time, does not necessarily indicate a greater willingness to engage in such acts with people outside their given relationships. These findings did vary across the described groups, and across gender - do check the reference for further information. As an aside, many of the comments they received throughout their study appeared to described people arriving at a less puritanical opinion of sex, and developing a more mature opinion. An example:

"Coming from a home where talking about sex was discouraged, I was taught that any sex, let alone ‘kinky’ sex, was bad. Pornography allowed me to see that these that these variations are ok, more normal, and often veryenjoyable. I have become more open, accepting, and interested in most sexual acts because of porn.’’

- in Ferguson & Hartley, 2009

Now that the big moralizing, personal opinion stuff is out of the way, on to the fun stuff.

Markey and Markey (2010) looked at Google search rates (for porn) during the week before and after the '04, '06 and '08 election cycle in the District of Columbia and found that (during all three cycles) that individuals in 'winning' electorates googled themselves (ha) more frequently than individuals in 'losing' electorates. I know - I read the abstract to this study and wondered 'Why the hell would this happen? What could possible explain it?'. Well, they were working from the 'Challenge Hypothesis' which suggests that testosterone levels in males tend to rise during competition. Thus, winning a competition (even an abstract one such as an election, apparently) increases one's desire to procreate. This mechanism (increased testosterone) has also been observed in 'winning' female basketball fans.

Speaking of women, and coming from an interest in Evo Psychology, I would definitely have expected that a women's interest in porn would vary with her time in cycle. I mean, it's well established that the behaviour of women changes during phases of their cycle such that they wear more revealing clothing, or desire a different 'kind' of man, desire more sex, and engage in more masturbation. This behaviour peaks during the Periovulatory phase. Thus, I would have expected that - depending on time in cycle - women would show greater or less interest in porn. Yet the answer appears to be less than simple. Wallen and Rupp (2010) took a bunch of women (both Normally Cycling [NC] and those on Oral Contraceptives [OC]) and exposed them to porn during three phases of their cycle - the menstrual, periovulatory and luteal phases. They did not find what I would have predicted - that is, a systematic difference in interest in porn depending on stage of cycle...

They found something exceedingly cooler. They found that interest in porn was influenced (over the three test stages) by the stage in which they were first exposed to porn! NC women who initially viewed porn during their periovulatory phase demonstrated increased interested over the following two test periods compared to women who viewed the porn (initially) during their luteal phase (on menstrual phase women fit somewhere in the middle, in the realm of non-significance). OC women, on the other hand, responded with greatest interest across all sessions when exposed during their menstrual phase. Interestingly, self-reported ratings of enjoyment were not influenced by phase or phase-of-exposure. They argue that "women's interest in visual sexual stimuli is modulated by hormones such that the hormonal condition at first exposure possibly determines the stimuli's emotional valence, markedly affecting subsequent interest in sexual stimuli." (Wallen and Rupp, 2010).

Check out the graph:

Now if you (guys and girls) haven't yet clicked as to how you can use this information to your advantage, I feel sorry for you son, I got 99 problems, but.... But I do suggest playing a game of Porn-Themed Risk, or Monopoloy, during the appropriate phase, and letting your partner win. Why do they have to win? Well, as above, winning increases testosterone - and since your letting them win, your kind of winning anyway (at least in the long run). Of course, those games are expensive, so you might be inclinced to settle for the classic strip poker.

Still, the more competitive among you may prefer an adapted version of Chess-Boxing, and depending on your given testosterone levels and/or IQ, you may substitute either the Chess, or the Boxing.


Markey, P., & Markey, C. (2010). Changes in pornography-seeking behaviors following political elections: an examination of the challenge hypothesis Evolution and Human Behavior, 31 (6), 442-446 DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2010.06.004

Weinberg, M., Williams, C., Kleiner, S., & Irizarry, Y. (2010). Pornography, Normalization, and Empowerment Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39 (6), 1389-1401 DOI: 10.1007/s10508-009-9592-5

Ferguson, C., & Hartley, R. (2009). The pleasure is momentary…the expense damnable?The influence of pornography on rape and sexual assault Aggression and Violent Behavior, 14 (5), 323-329 DOI: 10.1016/j.avb.2009.04.008 Wallen, K., & Rupp, H. (2010). Women's interest in visual sexual stimuli varies with menstrual cycle phase at first exposure and predicts later interest Hormones and Behavior, 57 (2), 263-268 DOI: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2009.12.005

and Jay-Z

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Blog Comments

Guest Comment

The error bars in the figure are HUGE and could be interpreted as NCwomen having a favorable response in either menstrual or preovulatory time periods.

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Good point. Age plays a big role also. If they broke this data down by age, I hypothesize that they would see women >40 with the highest viewing time in both menstrual and preovulatory.

But I don't get the viewing time in seconds. Is ten seconds really that long?

Comrade PhysioProf

Guest Comment

No, this is not a good post. It is a shit post, regurgitating previously debunked shoddy "studies" in support of the misogynist status quo.


Guest Comment

Jade said:

But I don't get the viewing time in seconds. Is ten seconds really that long?

Subjects viewed many, many sexually explicit photos.  The viewing time, is viewing time per photo. Longer times indicate more interest.  So women exposed to the photos during their periovulatory phase showed greater interest at that phase and all others.

Brian Krueger, PhD
Columbia University Medical Center
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Comrade PhysioProf said:

previously debunked shoddy "studies"

Links? It might be nice to read the debunkings for comparison.



Guest Comment

Can't say I'm all that impressed with the Wallen and Rupp paper.

The women were classified according to their menstral phase and then tested three times.

There were 14 women in each group (OC and NC) who completed all of these sessions.

If you look at the statistical analysis, the fact that there are repeated measurements has been ignored.  Basically, the ANOVA thinks that their are 84 women in the study, hence the "statistically significant" results.

Also, viewing times are not normally distributed, so it might have been a good idea to model the log of these.



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@Guest- OK- I see. I guess I was thinking it was video. In that case seconds makes sense, although it would be good for comparison purposes to know what the Y axis is for men subjects (how much time is considered low, medium, and high, I mean).

There was a study that I remember being on PR sometime this past year (I guess January by the date of this article) by Dr. Chivers where they compared what men and women said was a turn on vs. what actually caused them to be excited. The results were interesting but actually, not unexpected in my opinion.  Here is the link. It would be interesting to know how their study was impacted by time of cycle.

Isis the Scientist

Guest Comment

Did you read the paper?  The values on the y-axis are in seconds.  They watched 10 seconds of porn max,  What does that mean?  Nothing.  Who the hell watches 10 seconds of porn?   The log of 10 seconds of porn watching?  Lamerz.  And the standard error?  Clearly you are shitting me.

Genomic Repairman
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Isis the Scientist said:

They watched 10 seconds of porn max,  What does that mean?  Nothing.  Who the hell watches 10 seconds of porn?   The log of 10 seconds of porn watching?  Lamerz.  And the standard error?  Clearly you are shitting me.

Dude nobody watches porn for 10 seconds, you dedicate at least 5 good minutes if you are going to watch porn.


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According to "Guest", they were photos, not video. How long would you stare at an image? 10 seconds seems a bit short but then again, once you take in the picture, how much longer do you need really?

I guess it would help to know how long does the average man stare at a sexually explicit photo?

Isis the Scientist

Guest Comment

Still, statistical kungfu aside, what is the importance of a 2 second difference?  What does that even indicate?

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@Smurfette - the error bars are huge. That's why eye-balling the data is unwise.

@ComradePhysioProf - I'd be obliged if you could argue why this a) are 'studies', with the implication they lack merit, and b) when/where/how they have been debunked. Given that the earliest of these studies was published 2009 I'm surprised to have missed a rebuttal. Links? As for the mysgonism - are you arguing against the findings (in which case - links) or are you arguing against pornography in general?

@Kieran - Yes, you're right, it triple counts all the participants. But since it is a within-subjects design, this is an appropriate analysis. Within-subjects spikes the power, and yes, likely lead to significant results. Again, this is a legitimate statistical analysis. Finally, they used a multivariate ANOVA - a MANOVA, not a plain old ANOVA. It's a minor point of difference, but since I'm rebutting from multiple angles, I feel I should act the pedant.

@Isis - During each of the test phases, the women viewed 72 photos in sequence. At a mean of 10 seconds, that's 12 minutes of porn viewing. Then you can compare that to the mean of 4.5seconds over 72 images, which is 5.4 minutes. Thus, @GenomicRepairMan, 12 minutes it more than twice what you state is a minimum value for interest in porn.

I would like to point out this wasn't a masturbation study, just interest in porn.

@Jaded - Male data would not necessarily be appropriate. They do not have the same hormonal cycle as women, and some comparisons would be moot. Additionally, it doesn't matter what men think is 'high' or 'low' levels of interest, it only matter what women think. I did just read your article, and it's interesting. I recommend it to anyone who's not that familiar with that area of research. But again, this is not a study on masturbation or arousal, it's a study of interest. If they wanted to look at arousal they'd have been using one of these things - a Vaginal Plesmograph


Alright, so people have arced up at the women view porn study. It seems that the main objections are methodological and statistical, so here I will go over those elements not previously covered.

These numbers (interest in seconds) were obtained using eye-tracking hardware and software. The participant knew that the objective of the experiment was to measure attention on slides - which arguably is a weakness, but which also would be difficult to get around. It's a start.

The participant was alone and assured privacy throughout the experiment.

Having said that, using a univariate ANOVA (the normal 1-DV kind) anxiety prior to test was measured. It was reported as generally low, but did differ with 'start phase', such that NC women in the menstrual start phase were more anxious than the other two phases. OC women were more anxious during a periovulatory start phase, compare to menstrual start phase, no difference was observed compared to luteal phase. Yet there was still no relationship between anxiety and interest or other self-report measures.

This study also controlled for previous porn consumption. OC and NC groups did not statistically differ in this manner. However, they do cite that there may be cohort effects, such that women who were ALL on phase-x of their cycle may be that way for some reason, compared to women on phase-y. This will need to be controlled in further studies.

Isis the Scientist

Guest Comment

How does the time it took them to get through the pictures tell you anything about their interest in porn?

Brian Krueger, PhD
Columbia University Medical Center
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Isis the Scientist said:

How does the time it took them to get through the pictures tell you anything about their interest in porn?

Because the number on the y-axis is the average amount of time they spent on each picture. More time viewing = more interest. Right?


Isis the Scientist

Guest Comment

You're shitting me with that question, right?

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@Isis - it has been shown that women with lower sexual arousal have shorter viewing times
when evaluating sexual stimuli than women do who report higher
levels of sexual arousal (Conaglen and Evans, 2006). Additionally, viewing time is accepted as an implicit measure of interest, and is often used regard sexual interest. See Viewing time effects revisited: Prolonged response latencies for sexually attractive targets under restricted task conditions. (Roland et al, 2010) in Archives of Sexual Behavior. Vol 39(6), Dec 2010, pp. 1275-1288.


@Comrade - Yes, an articulate, cogent and well-informed response that directly addressed the questions I posed, both in the article and in response to your original comment. Please try to keep on topic.

1) Why do these studies lack merit? Where have they been 'debunked'? Please provide links.

2) As for the mysgonism - are you arguing against the findings (in which case - links) or are you arguing against pornography in general?

Isis the Scientist

Guest Comment

Did you look at the image viewing times in that study?

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You've changed your argument. I'll address your first point - How does the time it took them to get through the pictures tell you anything about their interest in porn?

I'll do this by copy and pasting directly from the article I directed you to:

Since the seminal work of Rosenzweig (1942), it is well established that pictures of sexually attractive persons are watched longer than pictures of sexually unattractive persons when sexuality is salient. This basic effect is so reliable and robust that it is used for the indirect assessment of sexual preferences in forensic settings (e.g., Abel, Jordan, Hand, Holland, & Phipps, 2001).

In review articles, the viewing time effect is commonly introduced at the descriptive level without further theorizing. For example, Laws and Gress (2004) stated that “the rationale underlying the test is that clients will look longer at pictures they find sexually attractive” (p. 184). Others (e.g., Flak et al., 2007; Kalmus & Beech, 2005) categorize viewing time measures as “attentional techniques” and argue that “assessments measuring viewing time assume that individuals will look longer at images they consider attractive than they would view unattractive or neutral images,” explicitly distinguishing it from other techniques that “discriminate the effect of increased attention upon information processing tasks” (Kalmus & Beech, 2005, p. 208).

The most parsimonious explanation of why judgment of sexually highly attractive stimuli is prolonged is that watching those stimuli is rewarding and that terminating this by any response is therefore deliberately delayed. This hypothesis is corroborated by neurophysiological evidence. Watching sexually attractive stimuli elicits neuronal activities in brain areas commonly associated with the human reward system (e.g., Ishai, 2007; Karama et al., 2002; Mouras et al., 2003; Ponseti et al., 2006; Redouté et al., 2000; Safron et al., 2007; Stoléru et al., 1999)

Second, the delayed responding could be mediated by the automatic process of attention direction toward presented sexually attractive stimuli. It can be argued that sexually attractive stimuli automatically bind attention and distract participants from their actual task to rate the persons’ sexual attractiveness. Responses are, therefore, delayed. A very similar assumption underlies the rationale of the CRT (Santtila et al., 2009; Wright & Adams, 1994) and recent research suggests that sexual arousal can indeed increase attentional adhesion to attractive opposite-sex targets (Maner, Gailliot, Rouby, & Miller, 2007). Although deliberate delay and attentional adhesion are clearly distinct, they have not been well differentiated in the literature so far. It should be noted that both explanations are not mutually exclusive. It is conceivable that sexually attractive stimuli could automatically attract and bind attention; the visual processing could then elicit positive affect, which subsequently causes deliberate prolonged viewing and a delayed judgment to maintain the pleasurable state.

it has been found that the presentation of erotic stimuli induces hesitancy in decision making. Spiering, Everaerd, and Elzinga (2002) provided data to support their interpretation of SCID as an evolutionary adaptive activation of conscious regulation modules. To the degree that stimuli presented in viewing time tasks are sexually explicit (as compared to neutral or mildly erotic; Spiering, Everaerd, & Laan, 2004) viewing time effects may be a special case of the general SCID phenomenon [SCID = Sexual Content Induced Delay]

A fourth class of explanations postulates internal processes that are automatically triggered by either sexually attractive stimuli as such or the specific task to rate their sexual attractiveness. Briefly presented stimuli could trigger internal attentional processes to erotic cues as well as expectancies and/or schematic concepts (Wiegel, Scepkowski, & Barlow, 2007). Finally, the effect could also emerge as a result of the task commonly connected to viewing time measures. It is conceivable that denying sexual attractiveness is on average faster than confirming it and responses for sexually attractive stimuli are thus prolonged.


Your second question, regarding the times in this study, are in the graph as follows. You may note that the times reported are in the same ball park as those reported in the initial-expose v phase of low interest. This seems to suggest that those in the high end are atypical results and worthy of further investigation.

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Oops, Tanner is a category of Age of stimulus. Tanner 5 is 'young adult'.

Isis the Scientist

Guest Comment

I didn't "change" an argument.  I don't have an "argument."  This isn't high school debate, dude.  Copying and pasting an article that you linked me to?  I can read the shit.  I've been reading journal articles since you were still crapping in your pampers. 

I am asking about the value of assessing arousal from image observations that are mere seconds long.

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If that's the case, I apologise for thinking you hadn't read the article. Your comment after my reference didn't suggest you did.

Then I answer simply. Yes, I think there's value in assessing interest in images (such as in the study) over the course of seconds. Particularly in the context of 72 consecutive images.

I would be inclined to think this effect holds for porn, equally as it does for heartwarming images of puppies. Seconds are a useful metric. How long would you look at an image (be it porn or puppies) before you decided to move on the 2nd, 3rd, ... 72nd image? What would be an appropriate alternative?

Isis the Scientist

Guest Comment

I wonder what informs what images of porn people find attractive compared to what images of puppies they find attractive?

Kim Wallen
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It is interesting to see one’s work discussed by people unaware that one is observing what they have to say. I found the discussion very interesting. Even the less well considered posts contributed something, if only by contrast.  The concerns raised about this study are accurate.  The finding, the women’s hormonal state when      first exposed to porn in a lab, predicted their subsequent response to similar porn, was serendipitous, coming as part of a larger eye-tracking study.  As a result it is underpowered to really fully test the hypothesis.  Since we did not have the opportunity to add more subjects when we discovered this result in our data, we had the choice of dumping the data or trying to publish it warts and all. I chose the latter in the hopes that it might inspire others to do a more rigorous study than ours.  Because our results parallel those of Slob, using different methods, different stimuli (he used videos we used photos), and different end points (he used labial temperature change – measure of female sexual arousal, yes women really do get hot, and we used a nonverbal measure of interest) I felt more comfortable that this is a real finding and not an artifact of our design and methods.  The choice is yours whether to consider the findings or reject them out of hand for methodological and sociological reasons.

 What intrigued me about this finding was whether it has any meaning in the real world.  Is it just an artifact of showing women porn in a laboratory and it wouldn’t translate into every day life, or was it tapping into some process that is actually a part of the factors influencing women’s evaluations of men.  We know from several studies that women’s assessment of men varies with their ovarian cycle.  Our work suggests that possibly ‘first impressions’ are influenced by hormonal state and then remain relatively unchanged even after the women’s hormones change.  It suggested to me that for a man to have the best chance of making a good impression it helps if the woman he is meeting is at midcycle. It would be very interesting to know whether there is an increased probability of a couple developing a long-term relationship if they meet when the woman is midcycle.  There are lots of relationship questions that are suggested by these data.

One other question unresolved, and actually not even addressed, is what if anything resets this process.  Our study covered 4-6 weeks and the phenomenon lasted that long.  Does it last longer, is it relatively impervious to change?  Some of our women were tested over two separate ovarian cycles to get all 3 phases and some were tested over a single cycle and we didn’t see different responses if it was one or two cycles, but the study was underpowered to really address that issue.  It seemed to me unlikely that this isn’t reset.  On the other hand, people claim that first impressions are lasting. Maybe this is part of the mechanism.

I suspect now, that the phenomenon we found is like a conditioned place preference, where the context in which someone experiences something rewarding is preferred to a context that signaled no reward.  Maybe if this study was done with one group experiencing the photos in three distinctly different contexts at three cycle phases we would not find the effect.

About men and similar issues.  We have published another study on men using this paradigm (actually collected at the same time) and their viewing in relation to their testosterone levels (as measured in blood).  Overall men go through these 72 photos more rapidly than do women, maybe reflecting their interest in novelty (they rated the photo as sexually arousing as did the women, so that doesn’t seem to account for the difference).  What was interesting was that for the first test, male T level was completely uncorrelated with looking time (sexual interest). On the second test (the men were tested at the same interval as them women, although they didn’t have cycle phases) male T was somewhat correlated, but not significantly.  On the third test, a month after the first one, however T was strongly correlated with viewing time (r=0.80) accounting for 64% of the variance.  Actual viewing times did not differ across the 3 tests.  What we think was happening is that across the three test sessions the men started to habituate to the testing and the porn (the images were different in each session, but all of the same type, garden variety oral sex and intercourse0, and hormonal state became increasingly important to influence their interest.  In the first test, the situation was novel and exciting and the context was more important than hormones. By the third time the novelty had worn off and it was now a ‘job’, a pretty good job, but a job.  Now hormones were important and those guys with low T were less interested in the photos than those with high T.  (Rupp and Wallen, 2007, Horm Behav.52:581-589)

It was great to run across this blog and find our study. Even more surprising was to see that the initial post completely got the significance of the finding. I can’t say the same for one of the original reviewers of this study who simply could not seem to grasp that this was something surprising.

Kim Wallen, Ph.D.

Emory University

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Wow. Thanks for dropping by, and taking the time for such a considered response. I am a little surprised by those findings regarding men, and have just downloaded that paper for later reading (as well as the review paper). Although, I must admit, I know a lot less about male-sex research than I do about female, so it's less of an informed reaction.

Do you think that the fact that men 'speed' through the images lends weight to the meaningfulness of the mean-time spent viewing images for women (a criticism raised in the comments section)?

Additionally, will you be specifically measuring testosterone in women during subsequent replications of the female version of the experiment?




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Comments recently raised in twitter support the poorly articulated (though perhaps justified) argument by CPP, that porn is Mysoginistic. This comment thread is for the science, this link is for the forum on 'the morality of porn'

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Weinberg study (NB: no relation):

*Wait, so non-heterosexual women are *less* interested in oral sex after watching porn? I think seeing straight bois in porn screw it up must be to blame!

*Non-heterosexual women also much more interested in extra partners after porn... can we call this the "Chasing Amy" affect?

*Would either of those things happen in a porn world dominated by non-heterosexual porn? (*actual* nonheterosexual porn, not fakelesbian boi porn)

*Did those authors *really* use the word "porntopia"? Seriously? AHAHAHAHHAHA


Wallen study:

*I would at least like to see what happened with non-sexual images, as a control. Maybe you pay more attention to everything if you first encounter it when you are menstruating!

*In general, I do not share Dr. Isis's reservations about eye-tracking studies (they are the source of too much fascinating data about babies- and I really don't see any other way to measure some infant responses). That said... *enjoyment* did not vary, but attention did? Isn't that kind of a red flag? Maybe what's going on here is porn-specific but not exactly 'interest' increasing in any positive sense. For lack of a better descriptor, doesn't anyone else ever get the train wreck effect with porn? You can't look away, it's just so bad. Maybe it's even physically arousing... just deeply wrong.

Isis the Scientist

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Becca, we need to work on your brevity.  Shorter...

"I do not share Dr. Isis's opinions about anything."

That said, Becca highlights my point about viewing time and enjoyment/interest/arousal/whateverthehellelsewe'recallingit in this study.

Kim Wallen
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Rift said:

Do you think that the fact that men 'speed' through the images lends weight to the meaningfulness of the mean-time spent viewing images for women (a criticism raised in the comments section)?

I agree that we can't really know what looking time means.  However if one imagines themselves sitting in a laboratory, alone, except that there is a person monitoring the eye-tracker who can see where you are looking on the images, looking at sexually explicit images, a lot of sexually explicit images, I think that looking at each image for even 2 sec longer likely really does represent a difference in interest.  Given the overhead in how looking time is measured (the subject clicks to start a session and then clicks to see the next picture), about a second, it suggests that the lower times reflect very little inspection of the photos.  When the looking time gets to 10 seconds, that's actually a pretty long time.  From our other analyses where we looked at the number of fixations, and where those fixations were, a woman spending 10sec on a photo, might have as many as 30 separate fixations.  A lot of information is being taken in during that short time.  Having gone through the procedure myself, I think time does reflect interest.  Seventy-two images is a long slog.

Rift said:

Additionally, will you be specifically measuring testosterone in women during subsequent replications of the female version of the experiment?

We didn't look at T. I admit that I am not a great fan of studies of T in women, but that's another topic completely.  We aren't likely to look at T.  We are doing a replication of this study now, in which we are manipulating oxytocin.  We suspect that what might be operating is that midcycle estradiol increases OT levels and that is what prepares the woman to have a different response to these stimuli.  We'll see. It is taking us forever to get the study done.   There's a reason that there are far too few studies of menstrual cycle changes in cognition and behavior, they take so long to do and they are so easily disrupted.


Kim Wallen
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becca said:

*I would at least like to see what happened with non-sexual images, as a control. Maybe you pay more attention to everything if you first encounter it when you are menstruating!

our atudy was actually a sex differences study so aince we were directly comparing men and women on the same images, we limited it to sexual images.  It should have had a nonsexual control, which we use in our imaging studies, but we didn't.  I doubt that the effect would be seen for nonsexual images, but I don't really have any data to support that.  In our current study we have attractive, but nonsexual images, so we may know once we finish it.


becca said:

That said... *enjoyment* did not vary, but attention did? Isn't that kind of a red flag? Maybe what's going on here is porn-specific but not exactly 'interest' increasing in any positive sense. For lack of a better descriptor, doesn't anyone else ever get the train wreck effect with porn? You can't look away, it's just so bad. Maybe it's even physically arousing... just deeply wrong.

Actually we didn't collect data on enjoyment.  We did have the subjects rate how sexually arousing the images were and that didn't differ between men and woman.  We didn't compare subjective ratings by cycle phase, and should have.  Looking time was significantly correlated with the subsequent subjective aratings, so maybe the subjective ratings would have varied in a similar manner to looking time.

We suspect that this is not necessarily about increased interest. It is as likely that there is decreased interest in the luteal phase and that is what we are picking up on

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