Award Date

12-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Committee Member

Marta Meana, Chair

Second Committee Member

Christopher Heavey

Third Committee Member

Jeff Kern

Graduate Faculty Representative

Douglas Unger

Number of Pages

153

Abstract

The present study investigated sex differences in visual attention to erotic stimuli by comparing three groups of individuals: heterosexual men, heterosexual women, and androphilic MtF transsexuals. Twenty men, 20 women and 13 MtF transsexuals were shown 10 split-screen slides, each featuring one nude erotic photo of a man shown on half of the screen and one nude erotic photo of a woman shown on the other half of the screen. Eye movements were tracked as participants viewed the slides. All participants were heterosexual (Kinsey 0-1) relative to gender identity, thus erotic targets for natal men were nude women in the photos, and erotic targets for women and MtF transsexuals were nude men. With regard to erotic targets, men and MtF transsexuals differed marginally from each other in how long they looked at them ( p = .050), but both groups looked longer at erotic targets than did women ( p < .001, p = .015, respectively). With regard to non-erotic targets, women looked longer at them than did men ( p < .001) or MtF transsexuals (p < .001), and men and MtF transsexuals did not differ in non-erotic target looking times (p = .084). Results replicated Lykins, Meana and Strauss (2008) in that heterosexual men evidenced a category-specific visual preference for their erotic targets whereas women did not. Moreover, androphilic MtF transsexuals, like men, were found to visually attend significantly more to their erotic targets (men) than to their non-erotic targets (women), revealing a category-specific visual attention pattern to sexual stimuli. This finding suggests that cognitive processing in response to sexual stimuli, at least at the level of visual attention, may be rooted in natal sex. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for different theories of MtF transsexuality.

Keywords

Cognition; Cognitive psychology; Erotic stimuli; Eye tracking; Gender differences; Male-to-female transsexuals; Psychology; Sex differences (Psychology); Sexual excitement; Transsexualism; Visual attention; Visual evoked response

Disciplines

Cognition and Perception | Gender and Sexuality | Psychology

Language

English


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