Tuesday, December 13, 2022

In 1967, 82.7% of 25-34 years old Americans lived with their spouse; today it is 37.5%


Subjective orgasm experience: Heterosexual people (vs. gay & bisexual people) had a more intense experience

Evaluating the Subjective Orgasm Experience Through Sexual Context, Gender, and Sexual Orientation. Laura Elvira Muñoz-García, Carmen Gómez-Berrocal & Juan Carlos Sierra. Archives of Sexual Behavior, Dec 12 2022. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-022-02493-3

Abstract: The subjective orgasm experience (SOE) is the psychological perception of orgasm sensations and closely related to sexual health. Here, SOE was studied through the context in which it is experienced (sexual relationships and solitary masturbation), gender, and sexual orientation. For this purpose, data were collected from 4255 people (1927 men and 2328 women) of different sexual orientations (heterosexual = 1545; bisexual = 1202; and gay = 1508) who completed two versions of the Orgasm Rating Scale (ORS) for both contexts (i.e., sexual relationships and solitary masturbation) along with a socio-demographic questionnaire. Results showed that the ORS in the context of solitary masturbation is an instrument invariant by gender and sexual orientation. Significant differences in SOE were found by context: it was more intense in the context of sexual relationships (vs. solitary masturbation); by gender: women (vs. men) reported greater intensity; and by sexual orientation, with heterosexual people (vs. gay and bisexual people) having a more intense experience.


The main objective of this study was first, to test measurement invariance by gender and sexual orientation of the Spanish version of the ORS (Mah & Binik, 2011) of Cervilla et al. (2022) in the context of solitary masturbation. Second, it was to analyze the SOE across situational (i.e., context in which orgasm was experienced: solitary masturbation vs. sexual relationships) and individual characteristics (i.e., gender and sexual orientation).

The results of the measurement invariance by gender and sexual orientation of the ORS in the solitary masturbation context confirmed that it is an invariant scale (H1), both by gender and sexual orientation. Therefore, it is a valid instrument to measure and compare the SOE of different groups (men vs. women, and heterosexual vs. bisexual vs. gay) (Pineda et al., 2018).

Previous studies indicated that the SOE was more intense in the context of sexual relationships (vs. that of solitary masturbation) (Bensman, 2011; Levin, 2007; Mah & Binik, 2002; Pinkerton et al., 2003; Santtila et al., 2007; Sierra et al., 2022). Although our results in general confirmed this pattern (H2), they also allowed us to qualify the role of context on the SOE. The results showed that the dimensions related to emotions, sensations, and intimacy were more intense in sexual relationships, while that related to the rewarding effect of orgasm was more intense in solitary masturbation. Specifically, the scores for the Affective, Sensory, and Intimacy dimensions were higher in the sexual relationships context (vs. solitary masturbation), while the scores for the Rewards dimension were more intense in the solitary masturbation context (vs. sexual relationships). Moreover, these results were repeated when the variables of an individual’s gender and sexual orientation are considered. This pattern confirmed the results of previous studies, which indicated that both men and women value partnered orgasms as more intimate and solitary orgasms as more rewarding (Mah & Binik, 2002).

Based on previous research, we expected to find a significant relationship between gender and the SOE dimensions in both contexts (Arcos-Romero & Sierra, 2019; Arcos-Romero et al., 2018; Sierra et al., 20212022). In accordance with these studies (H3), women got higher scores than men on three dimensions (Affective, Sensory, and Intimacy) in the sexual relationships context, which refers to emotions, physiological changes, and the intimate aspect of the orgasmic experience. This is consistent with previous evidence showing that women associated orgasms achieved through sexual relationships with more intense bodily sensations, more intimacy, and greater connection in sexual relationships (Fahs, 2014). However, we found that on the Rewards dimension, in the context of sexual relationships, men scored higher than women, which is also consistent with previous studies in which men reported having a more rewarding orgasm (Paterson et al., 2014). Finally, no differences were found between men and women on the Rewards dimension in the solitary masturbation context. Thus, in this context, gender did not influence the rewarding aspect of orgasm.

One explanation for the gender gap in orgasm could be the idea that traditional heteronormative sexual scripts seem to grant men more agency than women, encouraging sexual acts that are more likely to produce orgasms in men (such as penile–vaginal intercourse) (Blair et al., 2017). In addition, the fact that the dimensions where women score higher than men are the ones related to emotions and intimacy is consistent with traditional sexual scripts where women are typically depicted as sexual gatekeepers who prioritize emotional closeness and fidelity. On the other hand, men scored higher in the rewarding dimension, also congruent with traditional sexual scripts where they seek a more physical aspect of sex (Masters et al., 2013). Herein, a dichotomous, antagonistic paradigm of heterosexuality is produced by the confluence of the opposing discourses in which men are pursuing subjects, while women are passive objects (Tolman, 2006). According to this perspective, female sexuality does not exist unless it results from emotional closeness and commitment to a relationship (Masters et al., 2013). Also, women may have higher evaluations when tested in research settings because they may have lower aspirations for sexual satisfaction (McClelland, 2010).

Traditionally, studies on SOE have been conducted on heterosexual people and in the context of sexual relationships (Arcos-Romero & Sierra, 201820192020; Arcos-Romero et al., 20182019; Mah & Binik, 2001). To analyze the SOE in non-majority sexual orientations, this study included bisexual and gay people, expecting that as postulated in H4, heterosexual people would present higher scores (Frederick et al., 2018; Garcia et al., 2014). Our results showed that heterosexual, bisexual, and gay people differ on two dimensions of the solitary masturbation context (Affective and Sensory) and two dimensions in the sexual relationships context (Sensory and Rewards), partially confirming H4. The intensity of the SOE was always higher for heterosexual people than gay people, which clearly shows the need to consider sexual orientation when conducting studies on SOE, and that there were more differences between heterosexual people and gay people than between heterosexual and bisexual people. The fact that gay people reported lower SOE intensity than heterosexual and bisexual people specifically in the dimensions more related to physical experiences could be because people with same-sex partners tend to place less emphasis on the consequences, instead concentrating on the process or development of the sexual relationship rather than its outcome (Mangas et al., 2022). This may be supported by findings that suggest that same-sex couples exhibit higher levels of emotional closeness than heterosexual couples (Spitalnick & McNair, 2005), which may cause them to place a higher priority on the emotional aspects of a relationship (Mangas et al., 2022). Research also shows that queer women prioritize non-genital sexual acts like kissing, snuggling, and hugging even though orgasm is less likely to occur because of them alone (Garnets & Peplau, 2006) and even do not mention orgasm at all when describing their best sexual encounters (Chatterji et al., 2017).

Many studies conducted among gay population focus on a binary conception of sexual orientation, in which same-sex and other-sex attraction are presented as the only categories (Bradford, 2004). Because of this, people who identify as bisexual experience a unique form of stigmatization and discrimination called “biphobia” (Bradford, 2004), which stems from both the heteronormative society and LGBTIQ+ community, thus experiencing double discrimination (Brewster & Moradi, 2010; Mitchell et al., 2014). Currently, there is no information regarding the SOE of this group. In our study, we observed that bisexual people present similar scores to heterosexual people, surpassing scores of gay people in the Affective and Sensory dimensions of the solitary masturbation context, and in the Sensory dimension of the sexual relationships context. However, in the Rewards dimension of orgasm, in the sexual relationships context, they presented lower scores than heterosexual people. Considering that bisexuality is a minority orientation and is more invisible than a gay orientation, this finding could be related to the minority stress theory (Meyer, 1995), in which internalized homophobia is included as one of the processes that compose it (Meyer, 2003). However, it is not currently possible to confirm this relation because of the scarcity of data on aspects of bisexual people’s sexuality. Finally, in the remaining dimensions (Affective in the sexual relationships context, Intimacy in both contexts, and Rewards in the solitary masturbation context), no significant differences were found according to sexual orientation. Thus, we conclude that the differences by orientation in SOE are not generalized but dependent on the context and dimension studied.

Limitations and Future Research Directions

One limitation of this study was that the sample was collected using a convenience non-probability sampling technique in an online format. In addition, for bisexual people when answering the ORS, the gender of the sexual partner with whom they had the orgasm they were rating was not asked, which would have been an interesting addition. Another limitation is that no information was asked about how orgasm was obtained, which would also have added an interesting nuance. Finally, the use of the Kinsey scale to measure sexual orientation is a limitation since it reduces sexual orientation to a purely behavior matter. In this regard, bisexuality was not considered as all the responses correspondent with plurisexual orientations, but only a subset limited to the responses 3 (Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual), 4 (Bisexual), and 5 (Predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual).

Future research should consider the influence of gender roles and attitudes toward sexual gender norms to understand and explain the processes underlying the differences between men and women in the SOE and across contexts. It should also examine and identify the factors that may be causing lower scores of SOE of people with a minority sexual orientation, which will allow the implementation of more effective programs to promote the sexual health of individuals regardless of sexual orientation (Garcia et al., 2014). Likewise, it is necessary to keep in mind that addressing dysfunctions or problems related to any aspect of orgasm should be framed considering an approach focusing on both the gender and sexual orientation of the person. 

Holiday gift giving is in retreat in the US, it was demoted as an "inferior good"

Holiday gift giving in retreat. Joel Waldfogel. Economics Letters, December 12 2022, 110952. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econlet.2022.110952

Abstract: Using US cross-section data, holiday gift giving is a normal good whose income elasticity of demand is about 0.5. As income rose 1914–2000, aggregate holiday gift expenditure grew as well. Since 2000, however, holiday giving has fallen in real terms as income has continued to rise. While gift giving remains normal in household cross sections, it behaves like an inferior good in the post-2000 national time series.


Since Engel (1895), economists have classified goods with positive income effects as “normal” and those with negative income effects are “inferior”. These attributes are not inherent: As economies develop, the roles of particular goods can change. For example, some studies show that rice in Asia and beer in Germany have evolved from normal to inferior goods over time (Ito et al., 1989, Volland, 2012). What sort of a good is holiday gift giving in the US, and how has it changed over time?

I first document the relationship between household income and holiday gift giving implicit in cross-sectional Gallup survey data, confirming that holiday gift giving is a normal good with an income elasticity of roughly 0.5. I then examine a century’s data on per capita income and holiday gift giving (inferred from the December bump in retail sales). I show that holiday gift giving rose with income until 2000 and has since fallen in real terms even as income has continued to grow. Although gift giving is normal in cross sections of US households, it behaves like an inferior good in the national time series since 2000.1