“Sex and disgust are basic, evolutionary relevant functions that are often construed as paradoxical. In general the stimuli involved in sexual encounters are, at least out of context strongly perceived to hold high disgust qualities. Saliva, sweat, semen and body odours are among the strongest disgust elicitors. This results in the intriguing question of how people succeed in having pleasurable sex at all. One possible explanation could be that sexual engagement temporarily reduces the disgust eliciting properties of particular stimuli or that sexual engagement might weaken the hesitation to actually approach these stimuli.
Participants were healthy women (n = 90) randomly allocated to one of three groups: the sexual arousal, the non-sexual positive arousal, or the neutral control group. Film clips were used to elicit the relevant mood state. Participants engaged in 16 behavioural tasks, involving sex related (e.g., lubricate the vibrator) and non-sex related (e.g., take a sip of juice with a large insect in the cup) stimuli, to measure the impact of sexual arousal on feelings of disgust and actual avoidance behaviour.
The sexual arousal group rated the sex related stimuli as less disgusting compared to the other groups. A similar tendency was evident for the non-sex disgusting stimuli. For both the sex and non-sex related behavioural tasks the sexual arousal group showed less avoidance behaviour (i.e., they conducted the highest percentage of tasks compared to the other groups).
This study has investigated how sexual arousal interplays with disgust and disgust eliciting properties in women, and has demonstrated that this relationship goes beyond subjective report by affecting the actual approach to disgusting stimuli. Hence, this could explain how we still manage to engage in pleasurable sexual activity. Moreover, these findings suggest that low sexual arousal might be a key feature in the maintenance of particular sexual dysfunctions.”
Bonus table from the Appendix:
Appendix-S1. Behavioural tasks as perceived by participants
|As Perceived||In Reality|
|1||take a sip of the juice with a large insect in the plastic cup||insect was made of plastic|
|2||remove the used toilet paper from the jar and put it back in place||toilet paper was spoiled with sweet bread to give the impression of faeces|
|3||wipe your hands with the used tissue||tissue was touched with yellow-brownish ink|
|4||take a bite from the biscuit, which is lying next to a living worm||the worm was indeed living and was kept for the duration of the experiments in a large container with blocks of soil in it and it was taken back to the same field when experiments were completed|
|5||lubricate the vibrator with your hands||the vibrator was clean|
|6||insert the needle into the heart of the voodoo doll representing the person you hate||n/a|
|7||this shirt belongs to a paedophile that was used during rape – take the shirt out of the bag and hug it||the shirt was new and clean|
|8||read the story and say aloud: “It was so horny to have him (the dog) inside me”||n/a|
|9||touch the (unattached) wet human hair||the hair belonged to one of the researchers and it was wet with a neutral lubricant|
|10||hold the bone for 5 seconds||the bone was a ‘dog’s chewing bone’ lubricated with red ink|
|11||discard the used women tampon||the tampon was new that has socked in red ink and water|
|12||stick a needle in the eye of a cow||the eye of the cow was real, and participants had to only touch it with the needle provided – a new eye ball was brought every day as frozen from the butcher and taken back at the end of the day for proper biohazard waste removal|
|13||hold a bandage that was used on a wound for 5 seconds||the bandage was new and spoiled with red and brownish ink|
|14||rub the used toothbrush back and forth on your cheek for five seconds||the toothbrush was new|
|15||place the used panties/knickers of a woman in a bag||the panties were unused and spoiled with drops of coconut milk|
|16||stick your finger in the bowl of used condoms and touch each one of them||the condoms were new and wet with penile lubricant|
Thanks to Jessica P. for today’s ROFL!
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Smells like safe sex: olfactory pathogen primes increase intentions to use condoms.
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Probably the most horrifying scientific lecture ever.
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Squirting vs. gushing.
NCBI ROFL. Real articles. Funny subjects.
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