Monday, December 14, 2020

Some participants described sexual boredom as feeling obligated to engage in undesired sexual acts

Perceptions of sexual boredom in a community sample. Leonor de Oliveira,Joana Carvalho & Pedro Nobre. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, Dec 8 2020.

Abstract: This study explored the definitions of sexual boredom in a large community sample of Portuguese individuals. A thematic analysis of written responses to the question “What is sexual boredom for you?” was conducted with 653 participants aged 18 to 75 (M = 33.14; SD = 9.01) of multiple genders, sexual orientations, and relationship types. Three main themes were identified: definitions of sexual boredom, predisposing and maintenance factors of sexual boredom, and managing of sexual boredom. Sexual monotony, sexual desire, and hedonic value stand out as defining features of sexual boredom. Findings suggest the need of a multidimensional measure of sexual boredom.


This thematic analysis identified diverse definitions of sexual boredom, as well as individual,
interpersonal, and practice-related factors involved, and, finally, management paths.
Participants frequently defined sexual boredom with aspects of sexual monotony, lack of sexual
desire and lack of hedonic value. Monotony is a core feature of general boredom (Fenichel, 1951;
Geiwitz, 1966; Perkins & Hill, 1985; Zuckerman, 1979) and research verified that monotonous
stimuli led to decreases in judged hedonic value (Berlyne, 1970). Sexual monotony is central to
the definition of sexual boredom (Watt & Ewing, 1996), which was negatively correlated with sexual
satisfaction and sexual desire (Carvalheira et al., 2014; Stulhofer et al., 2010).
Some participants described sexual boredom as feeling obligated to engage in undesired sexual
acts. We are unaware of similar findings in previous research. In the context of general boredom,
research concluded that boredom is a function of the level of effort required to attend to stimuli
that are not intrinsically captivating (Leary et al., 1986; Mikulas & Vodanovich, 1993). Being
bored with an obligation in a more mundane situation may not cause much distress, however
this might not be the case for mandatory sex.
In addition, participants identified sexual boredom could be a result of having sex with the
same partner. These findings may be partially explained by the sexual strategies theory (Buss &
Schmitt, 1993) that postulates sexual boredom in males restores mating behavior in the presence
of novel females (see Dewsbury, 1981). According to this view, desire for sexual variety is not
observed in women (Buss & Schmitt, 1993; Schmitt et al., 2001), but our study suggests sexual
boredom linked to having sex with the same partner is too found in women. Possibly, some
people, independently of gender, may have a non-monogamous orientation, which may be in the
genesis of their sexual boredom.
Our findings suggest sex frequency may also play a role in one’s assessment of sexual boredom.
Although no previous research addressed sexual boredom and sex frequency, some studies
reported sex frequency predicts sexual satisfaction in couples (e.g. Frederick et al., 2017; McNulty
et al., 2016; Schoenfeld et al., 2017). Further research is needed to determine if low sex frequency
can trigger or result in sexual boredom.
Finally, our research implies having low or no emotional connection with a sexual partner
may contribute to sexual boredom for some. There are no previous studies addressing this link,
although emotional connection to a sexual partner was found as an important component of
sexuality in long-term couples (Lemieux et al., 2004), friends with benefits (Lehmiller et al.,
2011), and individuals reporting having “great sex” (Kleinplatz & Menard, 2007).
Our findings highlight potential cognitive, emotional, and physical mechanisms of sexual boredom,
namely distraction, negative affect, and fatigue – all of which were previously related with
boredom proneness (Farmer & Sundberg, 1986; Malkovsky et al., 2012; Mercer-Lynn et al., 2014),
or with decreases in sexual desire (Maserejian et al., 2010; Murray et al., 2014). However, there is
no research on individual factors of sexual boredom we are aware of. This study indicates that
similarly to general boredom, sexual boredom may have relationships with attentional processes,
affect, and physical well-being. More importantly, it suggests sexual boredom is linked to personal
distress, emphasizing the need of further examining this construct as a sexual problem with
impact on sexual relationships.
In addition, our participants linked partner and relationship factors to sexual boredom.
Although we did not find research concerning partner factors in sexual boredom, some studies
indicate partners’ poor sexual skills impacted negatively sexual desire in women (Basson, 2001;
Brotto et al., 2011; Gehring, 2003), whilst partner responsiveness was positively associated with
sexual satisfaction in women and men (Vaillancourt-Morel et al., 2019). Within relationship factors,
were identified themes of lack of passion or eroticism, relationship issues, and duration of
relationship - which were previously related with decreases in sexual desire (Klusmann, 2002;
Murray et al., 2014; Murray & Milhausen, 2012; Sims & Meana, 2010). Only the studies of
Tunariu and Reavey (2003, 2007) explored relational aspects of sexual boredom, suggesting poor
sexual communication and relationship length could lead to sexual boredom.
Engaging in solitary practices and lack of sexual stimulation during partnered activity were
two reasons our participants related to sexual boredom. We know masturbation was related with
boredom (Gana et al., 2001), and sexual boredom (Carvalheira et al., 2015), but there seem to be
no studies regarding partnered sexual practices and sexual boredom. Moreover, several participants
reflected on a general sense of frustration stemming from sexual disappointment, as when
sex does not meet expectation. This could be in part related to the over-emphasis placed on sexual
variety and novelty (Tunariu & Reavey, 2007), which sets unrealistic expectations, and consequently
leads to frustration (Metz & McCarthy, 2011).
Several participants referred potential stages involved in managing sexual boredom. Some
mentioned acknowledging changing sex patterns allowed them identifying sexual boredom, while
others reflected on solutions to overcoming this, or identified potential constraints doing so.
Participants in this study named engaging in novel sexual behaviors (e.g. try new positions,
using sex toys, practicing BDSM, etc.) as potential solutions for overcoming sexual boredom.
Previous research suggested introducing sexual novelty to combat negative consequences of sexual
boredom could be helpful for couples in long-term monogamous relationships (Matthews
et al., 2018).
From the participants’ answers we also extracted some potential constraints, which may possibly
interfere with adopting new practices to fight sexual boredom, namely sexual beliefs and
ignorance of sexuality or one’s body. Research shows dysfunctional sexual beliefs play a role in
sexual dysfunction (Nobre & Pinto-Gouveia, 2006), and specifically in sexual desire in men and
women (Carvalho & Nobre, 2010, 2011). As well, poor sexual skills, such as unwillingness to integrate
the sexual skills necessary to uphold exciting sex, was postulated by Tunariu and Reavey
(2007) as a factor leading to the onset of sexual boredom. Our study adds evidence for the
importance of sexual education in managing sexual problems, an area of clinical intervention
with people with sexual difficulties for some time (Annon, 1976).


This study aimed to explore definitions and dimensions of sexual boredom in a heterogeneous
sample of the community. Like many studies of sexuality, participants volunteering to take part
in the investigation may not resemble the general population in several aspects, especially in what
concerns openness to discuss sex related matters. Although our findings are not meant for generalization,
it is possible that they more closely reflect women’s sexual boredom, as they made up
most of our sample. In addition, the investigators responsible for the analysis were both women
psychologists, which may have also influenced the process. Another drawback of this study relates
to the potential influence of survey content on our participants’ answers to the open-ended item.
We are mindful that the participants’ attitudes and responses may have been primed having
answered questionnaires on some aspects of human sexuality before providing their definitions of
sexual boredom. This study did not assess intercoder reliability as, similarly to Braun and Clarke
(2019), we believe this would bear a positivist assumption there is a reality in the data that can
be accurately captured through coding. Our final coding matrix is purposely a simplification of a
complex construct and a product of these authors’ choices. While acknowledging this we also
stress the importance of rendering dimensions of sexual boredom intelligible, as most of the individual
and interpersonal aspects of sexual boredom were not yet known.

Maybe our visual cortex has, beyond the 2 posited pathways (one computes the identity of an object, the other the location), a 3d one for moving faces & bodies (expressions, eye-gaze, audio-visual integration, intention, mood)

Evidence for a Third Visual Pathway Specialized for Social Perception. David Pitcher, Leslie G. Ungerleider. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, December 14 2020.

Rolf Degen's take:


* The two-visual pathway model of primate visual cortex needs to be updated. We propose the existence of a third visual pathway on the lateral brain surface that is anatomically segregated from the dorsal and ventral pathways.

* The third pathway exists in human and non-human primates. In humans, the third pathway projects from early visual cortex into the superior temporal sulcus (STS). In macaques the third pathway projects from early visual cortex into the dorsal bank and fundus of the STS.

* The third pathway has distinct functional properties. It selectively responds to moving faces and bodies. Visual field-mapping studies show that the third pathway responds to faces across the visual field to a greater extent than the ventral pathway.

* The third pathway computes a range of higher sociocognitive functions based on dynamic social cues. These include facial expression recognition, eye gaze discrimination, the audiovisual integration of speech, and interpreting the actions and behaviors of other biological organisms.

Abstract: Existing models propose that primate visual cortex is divided into two functionally distinct pathways. The ventral pathway computes the identity of an object; the dorsal pathway computes the location of an object, and the actions related to that object. Despite remaining influential, the two visual pathways model requires revision. Both human and non-human primate studies reveal the existence of a third visual pathway on the lateral brain surface. This third pathway projects from early visual cortex, via motion-selective areas, into the superior temporal sulcus (STS). Studies demonstrating that the STS computes the actions of moving faces and bodies (e.g., expressions, eye-gaze, audio-visual integration, intention, and mood) show that the third visual pathway is specialized for the dynamic aspects of social perception.

Keywords: superior temporal sulcus (STS)V5/MTneuroanatomyface perceptionbody perceptionsocial perception

For the first time in history, neuroscience is beginning to shed light on this long-held mystery of why ental imagery & perception look and feel so different

Why do imagery and perception look and feel so different? Roger Koenig-Robert and Joel Pearson. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. December 14 2020.

Abstract: Despite the past few decades of research providing convincing evidence of the similarities in function and neural mechanisms between imagery and perception, for most of us, the experience of the two are undeniably different, why? Here, we review and discuss the differences between imagery and perception and the possible underlying causes of these differences, from function to neural mechanisms. Specifically, we discuss the directional flow of information (top-down versus bottom-up), the differences in targeted cortical layers in primary visual cortex and possible different neural mechanisms of modulation versus excitation. For the first time in history, neuroscience is beginning to shed light on this long-held mystery of why imagery and perception look and feel so different.

The popular Paul Ekman hypothesis of facial micro-expressions as indicators of lies has no scientific support

Research on Non-verbal Signs of Lies and Deceit: A Blind Alley. Tim Brennen and Svein Magnussen. Front. Psychol., December 14 2020.


Research on the detection of lies and deceit has a prominent place in the field of psychology and law with a substantial research literature published in this field of inquiry during the last five to six decades (Vrij, 2000, 2008; Vrij et al., 2019). There are good reasons for this interest in lie detection. We are all everyday liars, some of us more prolific than others, we lie in personal and professional relationships (Serota et al., 2010; Halevy et al., 2014; Serota and Levine, 2015; Verigin et al., 2019), and lying in public by politicians and other public figures has a long and continuing history (Peters, 2015). However, despite the personal problems that serious everyday lies may cause and the human tragedies political lies may cause, it is lying in court that appears to have been the principal initial motivation for the scientific interest in lie detection.

Lying in court is a threat to fair trials and the rule of law. Lying witnesses may lead to the exoneration of guilty persons or to the conviction of innocent ones. In the US it is well-documented that innocent people have been convicted because witnesses were lying in court (Garrett, 2010, 2011; In evaluating the reliability and the truthfulness of a testimony, the court considers other evidence presented to the court, the known facts about the case and the testimonies by other witnesses. Inconsistency with the physical evidence or the testimonies of other witnesses might indicate that the witness is untruthful, or it may simply reflect the fact that the witness has observed, interpreted, and later remembered the critical events incorrectly—normal human errors all too well known in the eyewitness literature (Loftus, 2005; Wells and Loftus, 2013; Howe and Knott, 2015).

When the facts of the case are not well known, witness testimonies, including the testimony from alleged victims, may be critical to a verdict, and these testimonies are sometimes from witnesses who hold a personal stake in the case and shun self-incriminating statements. In many countries, a witness lying in court risks being charged with perjury—the accused typically does not risk such a reaction—but there are still cases where witnesses lie. In such cases, when there is a possibility that one or more of the witnesses are lying and the court's verdict depends upon the perceived credibility of the witnesses, the issue arises of distinguishing between lying and truthful witnesses. Is it possible to identify liars vs. truth tellers based on the non-verbal signals transmitted by the sender?


What options does this research field now have? Does one carry on looking for reliable non-verbal cues? Does one concentrate on whether combinations of them are diagnostic of lying? Vrij et al. (2019) suggest that there are grounds for optimism, for instance, by better defining the terms, or by improving measurement of the non-verbal cues. Luke (2019) recommends increasing the power of studies by increasing sample size. We are doubtful that such strategies will be able to provide solace, because they will be unwieldy in the forensic context. To illustrate this, let us consider two phenomena: Vrij et al. (2015) reported that spontaneous saccadic eye movements (a measure related to the widely-believed-but-not-empirically-supported gaze aversion cue) distinguish between truth-tellers and liars, and Mann et al. (2012) reported that if one measures “deliberate eye contact” rather than eye contact per se, liars have longer eye contact than truth-tellers. The reason for our skepticism regarding the application of such effects is that it is difficult to apply small (albeit significant) effects to specific instances. With such cues it will generally not be possible to say who is telling the truth at an individual level, or indeed at the level of an individual statement. One could measure the spontaneous saccades of key witnesses or the amount of deliberate eye contact maintained by a witness giving their statement but it is not clear either that such measures are sufficiently reliable, or what the baseline condition should be, against which one would compare the collected data in order to declare the statement a lie or not. Is the research in a blind alley? We believe it is, as far as lie detection in the forensic context is concerned. The idea that governs the research, that there are reliable non-verbal signs to lies and deceit is itself an expression of the western psychological folklore—as pointed out by Nortje and Tredoux (2019), the theoretical foundations for the putative non-verbal cues are shaky—and few researchers in the field appear to have fully digested the possibility that the basic premise of their inquiry may be false. For complex intellectual behaviors it has long been realized that there is a number of broad factors that contribute to individual differences—genetics, cultural influences, personal experiences, and situational factors (Engel, 19771980). To complicate matters, a meta-analysis by Bond and De Paulo (2008) showed that participants' truth judgments depended on the sender rather than on the person doing the judging. The effect of sender on veracity judgments has been confirmed in a number of subsequent studies: Some of us appear more (or less) credible than others, independent of whether we are telling the truth or are lying (Porter et al., 2010Levine et al., 2011Korva et al., 2013). In addition, the existence of the literature on cultural differences in lie detection, e.g., Castillo and Mallard (2012), would seem to undermine the idea that lies and deceit are in any useful, systematic manner related to behavior on an individual culture-free basis. We may have been looking for a lawfulness in human behavior that exists only in our minds.

Is the rational course simply to drop this line of research? We believe it is. The creative studies carried out during the last few decades have been important in showing that psychological folklore, the ideas we share about behavioral signals of lies and deceit are not correct. This debunking function of science is extremely important. But we have now sufficient evidence that there are no specific non-verbal behavioral signals that accompany lying or deceitful behavior. We can safely recommend that courts disregard such behavioral signals when appraising the credibility of victims, witnesses, and suspected offenders. For psychology and law researchers it may be time to move on.