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Q: What are the biological factors that motivate human sexual behavior? What are some theories about what may determine sexual orientation?
A: It is common to try to organize various psychological topics by placing the factors involved into environmental and physiological categories. [ For example, you would place hormones, a known component of sexual motivation, into the physiological category. But where would you place something like desire for physical pleasure, a frequently cited element in sexual motivation (Abramson & Pinkerton,
1995; Cofer, 1972; Hatfield & Rapson, 1993)? Physical pleasure has both a physiological component (the physical sensations associated with touch) and a subjective psychological component. Where does something subjective like pleasure fit in our breakdown into physiological and environmental components? Pleasure is an emotion (Cofer, 1972), which, according to the Schacter-Singer theory, is a subjective feeling based upon physiological arousal and interpretations of the stimuli that are linked to the arousal (Cornelius, 1996). Thus emotions are both physiologically- and cognitively-based. This indicates that another category exists into which we might place sexual motivators, but to state this would be to miss the larger issue. The larger issue is that pleasure is influenced by both our cognitions and our physiological functioning. As a factor involved in sexual motivation, it is not unusual to be associated with motivation and to simultaneously be associated with other variables that are themselves identified as related to sexual motivation and which may or may not belong to the same category. Thus, identifying categories and then placing the elements of sexual motivation into discrete categories is a difficult, if not impossible task. Rather than attempting to do so, the current author will identify the variables that have been linked to sexual motivation and identify, where possible, any mediating variables. Physiological Correlates - An analysis of human sexual motivation couldn't proceed without first discussing physiological factors, in particular, hormones. The influence of hormones in sexual behavior is well-supported by research. ]
jomsday|Points 415|
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Asked 7/22/2012 5:28:43 PM
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