Sunday, March 7, 2021

From 2020... Breakup Likelihood Following Hypothetical Sexual or Emotional Infidelity: Perceived Threat, Blame, and Forgiveness

From 2020... Breakup Likelihood Following Hypothetical Sexual or Emotional Infidelity: Perceived Threat, Blame, and Forgiveness. Trond Viggo Grøntvedt, Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair and Mons Bendixen. Journal of Relationships Research, Volume 11, Jun 8 2020.

Abstract: Infidelity represents a major threat to relationships, often resulting in dissolution of couples. The process from infidelity to potential breakup was studied in 92 couples using questionnaires concerning hypothetical scenarios of sexual and emotional infidelity. Structural equation model analyses using couple data for both infidelity types suggest that the level of perceived threat to the relationship was the main predictor of likelihood of breakup for men and women. Following each type of imagined infidelity, this effect was partly mediated by forgiveness. For emotional infidelity, level of blame was associated with forgiveness and breakup. The effect of blame on breakup was fully mediated by keeping less distance. The mechanisms involved in these processes were highly similar for women and men.

Popular version Mar 5 2021:


Previous research on transgressions in relationships and forgiveness has either not used couple data nor addressed the most serious kinds of transgression, such as infidelity. The forgiveness literature has also only to a very slight degree been coupled to the extant jealousy literature. By combining couple data with hypothetical emotional and sexual infidelity scenarios, the current study shed light on the psychological processes affecting breakup likelihood. Further, by measuring relationship quality before introducing the vignettes, the measure is not biased by recall of conflict, as could be a potential problem when asking about past transgressions.

Based on the standardised path coefficients, the model for imagined sexual infidelity was highly similar for men and women. For both sexes, the likelihood of breakup was directly related to perceived level of threat to the relationship and to lack of internal forgiveness (keeping distance and wanting revenge). The strong effect of perceived threat on breakup was only partly accounted for by keeping distance. Blame was unrelated to dimensions of forgiveness and breakup, and a model omitting blame provided much better fit to the data. Despite sex differences in level of threat, forgiveness, and likelihood of breakup for imagined emotional infidelity, the path coefficients were highly similar for men and women. Perceived threat was the major predictor for breakup and the effect of perceived threat on breakup was partly accounted for by keeping distance. The two infidelity models differed somewhat, though. Only when imagining emotional infidelity was blame moderately associated with both dimensions of forgiveness for men and women, but the effect of blame on breakup was fully accounted for by keeping distance. Relationship quality showed no association with blame, forgiveness or breakup for imagined sexual or emotional infidelity for either sex. Unlike Friesen et al. (2005), we analysed the two dimensions of forgiveness separately, as originally suggested by McCullough et al. (1998). The keeping distance and the wanting revenge dimensions of forgiveness were moderately associated, but only the former had any impact on breakup. It might be that wanting revenge reflects a continued emotional tie to the partner, while keeping distance and breaking up are steps along the same dimension of disengaging emotionally from one's partner. Further, in the description of the two vignettes, there was a conceptual difference beyond having had sex and falling in love. There was only one sexual encounter in the sexual infidelity vignette; whereas the emotional infidelity described a scenario of repeated meetings with someone outside of the relationship. Although the level of blame was not higher in the emotional vignette, a repeated, sustained behaviour may be ascribed a different form of volition and deceit than a single, episodic transgression. In the process of making sense of the repeated meetings affair, the attributions for the partner's infidelity may more directly have affected the following forgiveness process. This might explain why attribution of blame was associated with keeping distance only in the emotional vignette. This blame-forgiveness association is in line with number of prior studies that have reported that blame (nonbenign attributions) reduces the likelihood of forgiveness (see Hall & Fincham, 2006, for a review).

In accordance with previous studies, the effect of blame on breakup was fully accounted for by the effect of keeping distance for both sexes. The effect of blame was restricted to the emotional vignette. However, we disagree with Friesen et al. (2005, p. 74) that the associations among the blame, likelihood of forgiveness, and breakup scales possibly reflect general attitudes toward the relationship. It seems that relationship quality is highly disconnected to the above psychological processes. Further, we believe that differences in study designs between the two studies may help address the differences between our findings and Friesen and colleagues. First, the retrospective nature of Friesen et al.'s study suggests that there might be a greater link between relationship quality and transgression processing; further, they triggered memories of the transgression prior to measuring relationship quality. Since we asked about relationship quality before any other questions in the current study, relationship quality was not influenced by the hypothetical transgressions to the same extent as in Friesen et al. This may explain the disconnect between relationship quality, blame, and forgiveness in this study compared to Friesen et al. Second, our participants considered hypothetical, severe, and probable deal-breaking transgressions, while Friesen et al. considered historical transgressions that had not resulted in couples breaking up. Infidelity is found to be a potent deal-breaker for many relationships (Amato & Previti, 2003; Betzig, 1989); however, all couples in Friesen et al.'s study were intact, possibly because the transgressions were milder in general.

We further found that perceived threat was the major predictor also regardless of type of infidelity. The direct effect of perceived threat on breakup was particularly strong for men in the sexual infidelity vignette. Although the direct path was not significantly different for the two sexes, mediation analyses suggest that a smaller proportion of the total effect of threat was accounted for by forgiveness for men than for women. For men, little else matters when considering breakup than their perception of threat in imagining their partner having sex with another person. This dovetails neatly with the literature on sex differences in jealousy responses; men are more preoccupied with the sexual aspect of the infidelity than women (Bendixen et al., 2015; Buss, 2013). Our findings suggest that other mental processes weigh less for men when facing sexual infidelity.

A clinical application in couple therapy may consider how the perceived threat increases breakup, and address how threat is perceived and whether the threat is experienced by both parties. Further, addressing forgiveness and reducing related behaviours such as specifically keeping distance might be the most efficient intervention. Clinicians might want to focus less on the attributional process (blaming) or even prior relationship quality, based on the current findings.

Limitations and Future Directions

The cross-sectional nature of this study limits the conclusions one may draw regarding causation. Further, future research needs to reconsider when and how relationship quality influences attributions, forgiveness and breakup following various transgressions. The current findings challenge some of the prior findings that found support for effects of relationship quality, which maybe were largely a result of the use of vignettes describing hypothetical scenarios. The hypothetical nature of our study design introduces a disconnect between actual dyadic relationship variables, thus the transgression, perception of threat and decision to break up are all hypothetical. Considering future transgressions might elicit mate-guarding tactics that inflate likelihood of preemptive threat (Bendixen et al., 2018). On the other hand, it is difficult to study these processes as research of actual breakup is often retrospective by design. Intact couples might have forgiven successfully, at least to such a degree that the dyad is not dissolved, which may have had a positive effect on relationship quality. Further insights into the predictive effect of relationship quality on the likelihood of breakup following serious transgression such as infidelity in real life would probably need a prospective design.

Our sample consisted mainly of relatively young couples from a highly egalitarian, secular and sexually liberal country (Grøntvedt & Kennair, 2013). It is therefore possible that there is less stigma and hindrance to breakup in our sample compared to more religious, conservative couple samples. Regardless, we expect many of the mechanisms identified in the current study to generalise across cultures and nations, as cross-cultural investigations find infidelity to be one of the leading causes of relationship dissolution (Betzig, 1989).

Regarding methodological issues, the relatively low reliability of the revenge scales and unknown reliability of the single-item measures of threat suggest caution regarding interpreting some of the effects reported. Still, the strength of the associations with other variables in the model underscore the validity of these measures. Finally, as with many questionnaire-based surveys on sensitive topics, social desirability responding might be an issue (e.g., Tourangeau & Yan, 2007). However, this presupposes that there are clear social norms regarding how one is supposed to react to infidelity in one's partner. There is no indication that such norms exist, and it would be hard to evaluate in what direction social desirability concerns would affect the responses, and hence the results.

Consciousness is Primary: Science of Consciousness for the XXI Century

Consciousness is Primary: Science of Consciousness for the 21st Century. Frederick T. Travis. International Journal of Psychological Studies Archives Vol. 13, No. 1 (2021). DOI:10.5539/ijps.v13n1p1

Abstract. In the 20th century, the understanding of matter was transformed from a world of classical objects to a world of probabilities that were excitations of non-material quantum fields. Psychology may be involved in a similar transformation. In the 20th century, psychological models included specific “classical” content such as memories, attention, or emotions. However, some thinkers model consciousness as more field-like. Chalmers asserts that consciousness is an irreducible part of matter, along with time and space. Goff maintains that consciousness permeates reality and is expressed in degrees in different structures. Tononi’s Integrated Information Theory posits that consciousness is a fundamental property of any physical system and the degree of consciousness expressed reflects the power of the present state to affect the probability of its past and future states. Nader’s model goes beyond these concepts and postulates that consciousness is a nonmaterial, non-physical reality that exists entirely by itself. It has an ontological existence and generates matter, governs the interaction between material structures and is responsible for individual subjective experiences. This model is supported by direct experience of the field of consciousness, called pure consciousness, during Transcendental Meditation practice. This allows empirical investigation of pure consciousness and of higher states of consciousness when pure consciousness is integrated with daily experiences.


1.1.5 Nader: Consciousness is Primary

While materialist models begin with the assumption that matter is primary; Nader starts with the assumption that consciousness is primary (Nader, 2015).

I postulate that there is a primordial consciousness—a nonmaterial, non-physical reality—that is neither classical nor quantum-mechanical, neither a phenomenon nor an epiphenomenon, that exists entirely by itself. It exists in absolute terms and does not depend on anything else for its existence. (p. 2)

Nader’s model expands the concept of consciousness from “classical” mental changing events to a fundamental field that exists by itself. In the following discussion, to keep these two concepts of consciousness separate, classical mental events will be referred to as conscious experience or individual consciousness and the fundamental field of consciousness that exists will be referred to as pure consciousness—pure meaning unmixed with mental content (see below).

Nader’s model is as far away from classical psychological concepts like memory and perception as unified field theories in physics are from classical Newtonian mechanics. Many psychologists may object to the statement that “consciousness is primary and exists entirely by itself.” They might state that they have never isolated pure consciousness in their personal experience or in the laboratory. This was William James’s objection in 1890:

It is difficult for me to detect in the activity [of my mind] any purely spiritual element at all. Whenever my introspective glance succeeds in turning round quickly enough to catch one of these manifestations of spontaneity in the act, all it can ever feel distinctly is some bodily process, for the most part taking place within the head. (James, 1890/1950, p. 300)

While the experience of pure consciousness is seldom reported during ordinary waking experiences, it is reported during a meditation practice, Transcendental Meditation. The Transcendental Meditation technique is discussed in detail in the next section.

How does a field which is posited to be “all that there is” and “does not depend on anything else for its existence” create matter? It is as if one hard problem has been substituted for another. To follow the logic of this argument, I ask readers to temporarily suspend their understanding of consciousness as only being part of a human experience, or from the opposite point of view that “consciousness like ours is everywhere.”

The findings suggest that people are more likely to engage in immoral behavior when placed in a group setting as opposed to when acting independently

Lying for Bonuses. Junda Chang. International Journal of Psychological Studies Archives Vol. 13, No. 1 (2021). DOI:10.5539/ijps.v13n1p20

Abstract: This study aims to determine whether being in a group setting makes lying easier through the diffusion of responsibility. Participants in three separate conditions, two paired and one isolated control, were asked to roll dice and report results. Participants also had the incentive of earning extra money if the reported number was a four, regardless of the truthfulness of the response. The results showed that participants overwhelmingly reported rolling a four, statistically indicating that many chose to lie. Additionally, one of the two group conditions proved to have significantly higher rates of reported lying than the individual condition (with the other group condition directionally higher but not significantly). The findings suggest that people are more likely to engage in immoral behavior when placed in a group setting as opposed to when acting independently.

Rolf Degen summarizing... Obesity did not interfere with the number of sexual partners, the frequency of intercourse, or with sexual satisfaction

Sexual Satisfaction in Obese People. Monika Parchomiuk & Janusz Kirenko. Sexuality & Culture, Mar 5 2021.

Rolf Degen's take:

Abstract: Obesity has numerous consequences for the psychosocial and physical functioning of the individual which most often include comorbidities, disorders, and negative social attitudes influencing self-image. These factors indirectly associate obesity with problems in the sphere of sex life. Empirical evidence on this issue is relatively unambiguous but studies that focus on the positive dimensions of sex life do not provide clear-cut conclusions. Previous studies have often been carried out in specific groups and various socio-cultural conditions. The current study analyzed the relationship between sexual satisfaction and a variable describing preferences, expectations, and needs of obese people and non-obese people. Satisfaction was analyzed taking into account two components. One reflected the degree of discrepancy/convergence between the desired and actual frequency of sexual behavior. The other reflected the degree of pleasure felt in connection with actual sexual behavior. The sample consisted of 148 obese people and 128 non-obese people. Three measures were used: the Sexual Activity Questionnaire, Sexual Stimulus Scale, and Sexual Needs and Reaction Scale. The groups did not differ significantly in terms of sexual satisfaction in either dimension. The results of the regression analysis showed a more complex structure of correlations between satisfaction, preferences, expectations, and needs in obese people compared to non-obese people. Also, the activity of the partner, including experiences during full penetration, was found to be most important for pleasure (as one of the dimensions of satisfaction) in the test group.


The conducted cross-sectional analyses showed that obese people (BMI ≥ 30) do not differ significantly in terms of sexual satisfaction from non-obese people (BMI < 25). This applies to both of its indices: the D index showing the degree of convergence/discrepancy between the desired and actual frequency of sexual behavior and the ipsative index S reflecting the degree of satisfaction (pleasure) felt in connection with the actual sexual behavior. It is difficult to make comparisons to the results of other studies, due to different ways of conceptualizing the variable of satisfaction. Generally, though, other findings confirm the direction of the trend observed here. Younis et al. (2013) claim that obese women express a significantly lower level of sexual satisfaction than non-obese women. Bajos et al. (2010), on the other hand, suggest there are no differences in either of the sexes (compared to the control group) resulting from the BMI index. In both studies, satisfaction was assessed using questions with a ready set of answers describing different levels of satisfaction. A similar tendency, but only in women, indicating the lack of differences in sexual satisfaction (FSFI) related to BMI, was established in Polish studies (Jarząbek-Bielecka et al. 2015).

Positive trends informing about a higher level of physical and emotional satisfaction were found in obese men, compared to men in other weight categories. Obese women were also found to have sexual pleasure more frequently (Shao et al. 2015). Analysis of the results of women collected in a PISQ-12 study (assessment of sexual functioning) showed significant differences in terms of satisfaction with sexual activity to the disadvantage of obese respondents but no differences in sexual desire or the ability to achieve orgasm (Melin et al. 2008). In general, the results of present analyses are closer to the more frequent trend informing about the lack of significant differences between obese people and non-obese people or related to the BMI index analyzed as an independent variable, in terms of broadly understood sexual satisfaction.

In the first dimension of sexual satisfaction (D), there was a trend towards divergence over convergence, which in both groups can be interpreted as a feeling of partner’s insufficient (compared to the needs) sexual activity. Still, this activity provided satisfaction, as evidenced by the S index reflecting the sense of pleasure derived from various forms of sexual activity. These are two different dimensions of sexual functioning: (1) quantitative, showing the intensity of the sexual needs of the respondents in relation to the forms of partner’s sexual activity proposed in the questionnaire, (2) and qualitative expressing the personal experience derived from this activity. We did not analyze the similarities or differences in the intensity of the needs of obese people and non-obese people, but only a subjective sense of satisfaction with their implementation. The needs were assessed in the context of heterosexual partner activity. Referring to its other aspects, such as the number of intercourses or the number of sexual partners, the obtained results suggest they are convergent in both groups. These quantitative aspects of sexual functioning were also analyzed by other researchers. Various trends were observed, such as: more frequent occurrence of sexual intercourse in the group of obese women (Younis et al. 2013); significantly less frequent sexual intercourse and anorgasmia in non-obese women compared to overweight women (Morotti et al. 2013); obese women less often had a recent sexual partner, while there were no differences here between obese and non-obese men; no differences in the frequency of sexual intercourse related to BMI (Bajos et al. 2010); and no significance of BMI for the number of sexual partners in both sexes (Nagelkerke et al. 2006). In analyses involving pre-menopausal women, no differences were found related to BMI in experiencing arousal, sexual desire, or orgasm (Jarząbek-Bielecka et al. 2015).

In the current research, obese people were found to significantly differ from the control group in terms of the overall subjective assessment of partner relationships and the assessment of these relationships’ emotional component. This difference was visible not so much in the positive–negative assessment but in the varying degree of the positive assessment. In both groups, therefore, the relationships were successful and provided the respondents with positive feelings but in the case of non-obese people, the assessment reached the highest scores indicating a very high value of partner relations. Boyes and Latner (2009) established a negative relationship between BMI and the quality of marriage relationships. Respondents' assessment of their relationships was unfavorable, they reported they expected the relationship to end and they felt they did not match their ideal partner. In the present study, more people from the control group were in informal relationships, which may have affected their assessment. Formal relationships carry certain obligations resulting from living together, running a home, and having children. Their implementation, expected from the partner and undertaken by him/her, may be important for the subjective assessment of the relationship.

In addition to engaging in partner activity, most respondents from both groups, who were relatively young (compared to the average), reported to masturbate, and this was more often the case for obese people. This form of sexual need was realized at a rate comparable to that established for the general population (Bancroft, 2011).

Analyzing the sexual preferences, expectations, and needs of respondents from both groups, significant differences were noted for two factors: striving for mutual activity, and various sexual positions and fantasies, in both cases with greater intensity in the control group. Presumably, non-obese people show stronger preferences for forms of intercourse where both partners are active, they look for different ways of achieving sexual pleasure through non-classical positions and more often fantasize during intercourse. Younis et al. (2013) in a study with obese women and non-obese women found no significant differences in preferred sexual positions.

None of the factors differentiating both groups were found to be significant in the regression model for achieving sexual satisfaction, both in terms of convergence-divergence (D) and pleasure (S) in the control group. In both groups, the factor of the partner's activity during intercourse turned out to be significant in the context of satisfaction results analyzed in the D dimension. Thus, a trend was observed where the demand for specific forms of partner activity (discrepancies between the actual and desired frequency of partner’s sexual behavior) co-occurs with weaker preferences of the activity of the male partner leading to penetration and achieving orgasm this way (by both partners). This factor also proved to be important for the results of the sexual satisfaction in obese people determined by how much they experience pleasure (S). Stronger preferences of the described nature, constituting the factor analyzed here, remained in a positive relationship with the pleasure felt during sexual activity with a partner. The satisfaction of people from this group in terms of D and S indices was in a significant relationship with the factor describing the preference for foreplay activities, preceding or not leading to the sexual act. However, this factor created different patterns of connections for both satisfaction indices, because, with increased demand for partner’s sexual activity, which is not satisfied (D), there is a greater preference for staying at the stage of foreplay (kisses and hugs). In turn, greater pleasure derived from partner sex (S) was found to be associated with a lower preference for this type of activity. To sum up, the structure of the relationship between the two aspects of sexual satisfaction and preferences, expectations, and needs is richer in the group of obese people, but only the factor of the male partner activity, including experiences gained during full penetration, has a positive contribution to their sexual pleasure. In both groups, on the other hand, weaker preferences of the male partner activity, and in the case of obese people, increased preferences for foreplay, have the greatest contribution in explaining the discrepancy between the actual and desired frequency of partner’s sexual behavior. The established trends seem logical and consistent. Presumably greater sexual activity with more advanced forms is conducive to strengthening preferences of this nature, especially if the relationship with the partner provides pleasure.

In the current research, sexual satisfaction was analyzed in two ways, taking into account two dimensions: (1) quantitative—the intensity of the need to undertake certain forms of partner activity, and (2) qualitative—determining the degree of pleasure derived from this activity. Such an approach limits reductionism that is visible in the application of a single approach. The frequency of sexual intercourse, orgasms, the number of partners or even the variety of forms of sexual activity should not be essential criteria for assessing the quality of human sex life, however important they are for it (Kvalem et al. 2018). The essence of sex life is the ability to meet one’s own needs (individually differentiated) and preferences, which are shaped by many factors, both personal and social (including socio-cultural conditions). Obesity may have a more indirect impact in this respect, as stated in the introduction. The undertaken analyses do not yield unequivocal conclusions regarding the importance of obesity for sexual experiences, in their positive quantitative dimension, though. Such conclusions would be possible in longitudinal studies or retrospective analyses. Here, we can only talk about common and divergent trends in relation to the control group, which in this case were non-obese people, both in terms of individual aspects of sexual functioning and the analyzed relationships between them. Obesity occurs at different ages affecting some of the already shaped styles of psychosexual functioning, needs, preferences, and ways of implementing them in relationships or non-partner forms, or the process of their crystallization. Depending on the phase of life, it can be important for seeking and choosing a partner, building a relationship or maintaining it. The present research focused on a specific moment in the respondents’ sex life, on its current quantitative and qualitative aspects. The group of obese people studied here was selected from the population, but it was not determined how representative they were of this category. Given this limitation, it is useful to compare it with the results of non-obese people, selected on the basis of certain variables with potential significance (such as age or gender), which gives the possibility to infer about the specifics or similarities in the analyzed areas.

The limitation of the current research may be the use of self-reports but it is justified here because the needs, preferences, and expectations of the respondents were analyzed. The adopted method of data collection, used in the vast majority of studies on sexuality, may impact the accuracy of the results illustrating the quantitative dimension of the sexual functioning of the respondents, such as the number of sexual partners, the frequency of relationships or the extent of masturbation. The snowball method used for recruiting the studied group does not ensure the group’s representativeness, however, taking into account the fact that the presented study concerned intimate issues, it was a useful method for recruiting the group. Population studies are difficult here, and recruiting obese people through specialist clinics could also have disadvantages, such as attracting people who for some reason (e.g. health, image) use their services.

Patterns of Genital Sexual Arousal in Transgender Men

Patterns of Genital Sexual Arousal in Transgender Men. Jamie Raines et al. Psychological Science, February 26, 2021.

Abstract: Most men show genital sexual arousal to one preferred gender. Most women show genital arousal to both genders, regardless of their sexual preferences. There is limited knowledge of whether this difference is driven by biological sex or gender identity. Transgender individuals, whose birth sex and gender identity are incongruent, provide a unique opportunity to address this question. We tested whether the genital responses of 25 (female-to-male) transgender men followed their female birth sex or male gender identity. Depending on their surgical status, arousal was assessed with penile gauges or vaginal plethysmographs. Transgender men’s sexual arousal showed both male-typical and female-typical patterns. Across measures, they responded more strongly to their preferred gender than to the other gender, similar to (but not entirely like) 145 cisgender (nontransgender) men. However, they still responded to both genders, similar to 178 cisgender women. In birth-assigned women, both gender identity and biological sex may influence sexual-arousal patterns.

Keywords sexual arousal, gender identity, transgender, sexual orientation

Check also Sexual Arousal Patterns of Identical Twins with Discordant Sexual Orientations. Tuesday M. Watts, Luke Holmes, Jamie Raines, Sheina Orbell & Gerulf Rieger. Scientific Reportsvolume 8, Article number: 14970 (2018).

And Transgenders’ sociosexuality is largely influenced by their sexual genotype despite their incongruent gender self-perception; the relationships between behavior, attitude, & sociosexual desire are different from those of cisgenders:

Influence of Sexual Genotype and Gender Self-Perception on Sociosexuality and Self-Esteem among Transgender People. Rodrigo de Menezes Gomes, Fívia de Araújo Lopes & Felipe Nalon Castro. Human Nature, volume 31, pages483–496. Jan 21 2021.

The present findings suggest the existence of both male-typical and female-typical sexual-arousal patterns in transgender men because they showed some gender-specific sexual arousal, similar to cisgender men, but also showed bisexual arousal, similar to cisgender women.

Because of the small population of transgender men (Zucker, 2017), our sample of transgender men was small and was reduced further by the intrusive nature of the experiment. Thus, we consider it notable that we were able to recruit 25 transgender men. However, this small sample is a limitation of this work, and our following interpretations are tentative.

The present findings differed from the results of a previous study that focused on genital sexual arousal in transgender women and who showed patterns typical for their male birth sex and atypical for their female gender identity (Chivers et al., 2004). In our sample of transgender men, arousal patterns were at least partially in line with their male gender identity. This included the finding that transgender men who reported attraction to women were indeed sexually aroused by women, and those attracted to men were indeed aroused by men. This makes these two groups of transgender men distinct from each other, in addition to each group being distinct from cisgender women of different sexual attractions. Hence, transgender men should not be dismissed as being “lesbians in denial” (Kiss, 2018), nor should those who report attraction to men be dismissed as not having a male gender.

Another component of the present study was the use of different arousal measures for transgender men. Penile gauges appeared to capture arousal in postoperative transgender men and did not lead to different patterns of sexual responses compared with transgender men who used the vaginal probe. We stress that the number of transgender men who used a penile gauge was small, and no firm conclusions can be made. Still, some speculation is useful. If one assumes that these findings were valid, it would suggest that the arousal functions of a penis created through metoidioplasty are similar to those of cisgender penises. This interpretation, too, would verify the male typicality of transgender men. Furthermore, because transgender men who used the vaginal probe and those who used the penile gauge had similar arousal patterns, it suggests that different measurement devices do not inherently result in different responses. Different measurement devices are often used for cisgender men and women, and they repeatedly show different arousal patterns (Chivers, 2017). The present findings indicate that the vaginal probe can pick up gender-specific arousal patterns in birth-sex women, which suggests that it is not a matter of the device that leads to gender-nonspecific arousal patterns in cisgender women. This conclusion is in line with emerging work using alternative measures of sexual arousal that confirm that sexes differ in the gender specificity of their sexual responses, such as genital thermography (Huberman & Chivers, 2015) or clitoral responses (Suschinsky et al., 2020).

Future research should test a larger sample of transgender men with a more equal distribution of sexual attraction, measurement type, and transition stage. In the present sample, 20 participants used testosterone supplements, whereas five did not. We could not detect reliable differences in effect depending on the use of testosterone (results not discussed above), but because the latter group was so small, this null finding may not be reliable. In future work, researchers should also consider other factors that could affect transgender men’s sexual-arousal patterns, including the types of sexual stimuli used or their history of male and female romantic and sexual partners.

In conclusion, transgender men appear to show a combination of male-typical and female-typical patterns of genital sexual arousal. These results indicate that for birth-assigned women, differences in sexual arousal may not be solely based on their natal sex but may also be influenced by their gender identity. In other words, for transgender men, their physiological sexual arousal is at least in part reflective of their gender identity.

Found no differences in cyberbullying rates for boys and girls; also, there were more bully-victims among the boys, but no differences were found in the pure victims or pure perpetrators

Feijóo, S. S., O’Higgins-Norman, J., Foody, M., Pichel, R., Braña, T., Varela, J., and Rial, A. (2021). Sex Differences in Adolescent Bullying Behaviours. Psychosocial Intervention, accepted Jan 12 2021.

Abstract: In recent decades there has been a progressive increase in concern and research into the problems of peer aggression, both in the educational setting and more recently, online. The present study sought to explore sex differences in traditional bullying and cyberbullying, since current literature has not reached a consensus in how bullying involvement could be moderated by sex. The sample consisted of 3,174 adolescents aged 12-17 years old who completed a paper survey which included the European Bullying Intervention Project Questionnaire and the European Cyberbullying Intervention Project Questionnaire. The main results found no differences in cyberbullying rates for boys and girls. In the case of bullying, there were more bully-victims among the boys, but no differences were found in the pure victims or pure perpetrators. When analysing the specific bullying behaviours suffered or perpetrated, several differences were found. However, said differences were discrete and it seems that there are not distinctly differentiated bullying patterns, which discourages the use of clearly differentiated preventive strategies for boys and girls.

Keywords: Bullying, Adolescence, Sex differences


The current study sought to determine if the rates of bullying are different between boys and girls by engaging with a large sample of adolescents from Galicia (Spain). The main results show that traditional bullying seemed to be more common than cyberbullying, with a total involvement in any role of 34.4%, while cyberbullying summed up to a total involvement of 14%. This rate is disaggregated into 16.4% victims, 5.9% perpetrators, and 12.1% who were both at the same time (bully-victims) for traditional bullying; and into 5.2% victims, 4.5% perpetrators, and 4.3% bully-victims for cyberbullying. The only differences between boys and girls found in traditional bullying were in the rates of bully-victims (13.9% vs. 10.3%). The cyberbullying rates showed no difference in terms of sex, in line with previous research concluding that neither sex nor gender seem to be associated with cyberbullying (Garaigordobil & Aliri, 2013Hinduja & Patchin, 2008; Larrañaga at al., 2018; Smith et al., 2008), at least in terms of overall rates.

The traditional bullying victimization behaviours that were most common across the entire sample seemed verbal and subtler forms of bullying like being called names, having nasty things about themselves said to other people, or suffering the spread of rumours about themselves. Except for the spreading of rumours, these were the most common perpetration behaviours as well. Behaviours related to relational or psychological abuse have been found to not be taken sufficiently seriously by school staff in other research (Bauman & Del Rio, 2006), so the fact that these are the most common means awareness must be raised in schools to efficiently tackle bullying. Though there were only differences between boys and girls in the role of bully-victim, several differences in specific behaviours were found. There were differences in all the victimization behaviours, with boys experiencing more physical violence, being insulted or called names and being threatened, while girls were subjected to more relational behaviours, like the spread of rumours or being excluded or ignored by others. In the case of perpetration, boys showed higher rates than girls in almost all the differences found: executing more physical violence, insulting, and threatening others. These findings are coherent with previous literature pointing to different bullying behaviours between boys and girls (Carrera-Fernández et al., 2016Marcum et al., 2012Rosen & Nofzige, 2019Ryoo et al., 2014). However, the logistic regression showed that the differences are not remarkable enough to propose preventive strategies focused on girls and others focused on boys. Although there were certain differences in specific behaviours suffered and perpetrated, it seemed that there is not a clearly defined pattern of bullying for girls and another one distinctly differentiated among boys.

Similarly to traditional bullying but with lower rates, the most common cyberbullying victimization and perpetration behaviours appeared to represent subtler forms of bullying like saying nasty things to others, spreading rumours or excluding someone in social networking sites, chat rooms, or messenger apps. It is worth mentioning that some differences were found between boys and girls regarding the cyberbullying acts they committed, but not in the ones they suffered. Boys presented higher rates in hacking accounts, threatening, creating false accounts or posting embarrassing content of others, while the only behaviour that was more prevalent for girls was saying nasty things about someone to other people. Even if the cyberbullying rates were similar for boys and girls, there seemed to be slight differences in the way boys or girls do it. Girls seem to avoid physical confrontations but resort to emotional and psychological abuse (Marcum et al., 2012), which seems to transfer to their online behaviours by avoiding direct online acts such as hacking accounts or threatening others and favouring subtler ways to bully others instead. It must still be noted that the differences found in present study are discrete. Moreover, in the case of cyberbullying, differences are even lower than in the traditional context, which might imply that the digital environment is a medium where sex differences are blurred to some extent. A greater disparity in the results on differences between girls and boys in the case of cyberbullying compared to traditional bullying has been pointed out by the literature (Garaigordobil & Aliri, 2013Smith et al., 2019Wright, 2020), with some authors theorizing that the explanation resides in the fact that cyberbullying involves more forms of indirect behaviours (Marcum et al., 2012).

The differences between boys and girls could be explained by taking into account gender socialization and normative expectation of different behaviour from boys or girls (Smith et al., 2019Wright, 2020), as well as understanding bullying as a behaviour where the sexes perform in accordance with the gender expected of them (Carrera-Fernández et al., 2016Rosen & Nofzige, 2019). As stated by previous research, bullying prevention programs should incorporate explanations of gender and promote acceptance of gender diversity (Rosen & Nofzige, 2019). This will allow encouraging positive personal characteristics regardless of the gender to which they are attributed, and at the same time should help to reduce the bullying suffered by people with diverse gender identities and sexual orientation. It may also facilitate for boys to be more open about their experience, as they seem to underreport bullying as to not show weakness (Lai & Kao, 2018) and avoid coping strategies that include help-seeking behaviour (Sittichai & Smith, 2018). However, conducting differential intervention efforts between girls and boys does not seem adequate to prevent bullying, as they do not have clearly divergent patterns to suffer nor to perpetrate bullying. Nevertheless, it should also be noted that it has been stated that prevention programs seem to be more effective among boys by being more effective in bullying behaviours that are most prevalent among them (Chocarro & Garaigordobil, 2019Kennedy, 2020aKennedy, 2020bSmith et al., 2019). From this and the fact that relational or psychological abuse is considered less serious by school staff (Bauman & Del Rio, 2006), it can be inferred that more subtle or indirect behaviours may not be sufficiently addressed in current prevention and intervention programmes and may require further development in the future.

Finally, this study has three main limitations that should be mentioned. The first is the non-probability sampling used. Although it has allowed us to analyse a large sample (a total of 3,174 adolescents), the results are less generalizable to the wider population. Second, the small sample size of those involved in cyberbullying hinders the exploration of sex differences, as sometimes the rates of one group doubled the other but were not statistically significant. Thirdly, using sex instead of gender can be a superficial analysis and requires further research from a gender perspective. Despite these limitations, the results presented here add to the growing literature investigating sex differences in bullying and inform about the current situation in Galicia for adolescents in this regard. Mainly, this study shows that in the assessment of bullying from a gender perspective it may be key to focus on behaviours that females and males engage in, even if the overall rates seem similar. Future research should look into cultural and social constructions that may be mediating different behaviours expressed by boys and girls. This will in turn favour the development of more effective intervention and preventive strategies for traditional bullying and cyberbullying (Espelage et al., 2004Smith et al., 2019).