Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Committee Member

Marta Meana

Second Committee Member

Daniel Allen

Third Committee Member

Jason Holland

Fourth Committee Member

Jennifer Keene

Number of Pages



Research has shown that women have a much less category-specific pattern of visual attention to erotic stimuli than do men. That is, when simultaneously presented with male and female erotic stimuli, heterosexual women attend much more evenly to both male and female erotic stimuli than do heterosexual men, who attend almost exclusively to female stimuli. The present study investigated one proposed explanation for women's more diffuse visual attention patterns - that erotic female images have arousal value for heterosexual women. To test this hypothesis, heterosexual women were presented with either a 12-minute neutral, non-arousing video (n = 19) or a 12-minute erotic, sexually arousing video (n = 21). Both groups were then presented with 10 split-screen slides, each featuring an erotic photo of a nude man on one side of the screen and an erotic photo of a nude woman on the other side of the screen. Eye-tracking methodology was used to track participants' gaze patterns. Results indicated that arousal induction, as operationalized in this study, had no significant effect on the category specificity of women's visual attention to erotic stimuli. Their visual attention pattern was diffuse in both arousal and non-arousal conditions. Because of the difficulty in interpreting results that support the null hypothesis, as well as certain methodological limitations, this study can only claim that increasing arousal did not appear to change women's viewing patterns. It could be that women look at female images for arousal reasons, but supposedly increasing arousal levels did not change women's viewing patterns. In other words, the purposeful induction of arousal does not make women's viewing patterns more category-specific. Interpretations of this result and future directions are discussed.


Attention; Category specificity; Erotic photos; Erotica; Eye – Movements; Eye-tracking; Sex; Sexual excitement; Visual attention; Women; Women and erotica


Gender and Sexuality | Psychology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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