Gender differences in the emotional content of written sexual fantasies

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Dubois, Stephanie L.
Hayes, Robert E.
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Thesis (M.A.)
Department of Counseling Psychology and Guidance Services
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The limited body of research on the emotional tone of women's and men's written sexual fantasies has relied on qualitative and/or subjective measures of affect. In this study, the Dictionary of Affect in Language (Whissell, 1989) was used to obtain two quantitative measures, Activation and Evaluation, of the emotional tone of sexual fantasies written by male (n=71) and female (n=119) university students. It was hypothesized that men would score higher than women on Activation, which is associated with arousal and action, and women higher than men on Evaluation, which is associated with pleasant feelings. Only the latter hypothesis was confirmed. Men scored higher on a measure of erotophilia-erotophobia than did women (although not on a measure of sex guilt), but controlling for erotophilia did not eliminate the observed affective difference in written sexual fantasy. Limitations of the study and other possible uses of the Dictionary in sex research are discussed.