Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Committee Member

Christopher L. Heavey

Second Committee Member

Russell T. Hurlbert

Third Committee Member

Marta Meana

Fourth Committee Member

Peter Gray

Number of Pages



An investigation of the phenomenological aspects of sexual response is needed for a more comprehensive understanding of human sexuality. To obtain high fidelity descriptions of inner experience during a sexually oriented task, the current study used Descriptive Experience Sampling (DES) while seven participants read an erotic short story. Participants were trained in DES by sampling during everyday activities. After training, they were sampled while reading two classic short stories on a web-based program. Participants then sampled their experience while reading an erotic short story using the same web-based program. Some of the participants were willing to discuss their inner experience during everyday activities and fiction reading, but were unwilling to discuss their experience while reading erotica. Participants who completed the erotica reading study predominantly had vivid inner seeings of sexual scenes, regardless of their dominant experience during natural environment sampling. Most participants reported generally finding the story to be sexually arousing (5 of 7 participants), were engaged in the reading (85% of sampled moments), and innerly saw sexual scenes (74.1% of sampled moments). Despite the high degree of engagement with the reading and the sexual content of the inner seeings, there was little to no direct experience of reading or of sexual arousal (7.4% and 3.7%, respectively). The findings suggest that experience during sexually oriented tasks is particularly private and raise the possibility that a pristine inner experience of sexual arousal is a fleeting but salient phenomenon. Future studies should investigate pristine experience during other sexual activities.


experience sampling; introspection; phenomenology; pornography; sexuality; sexual response


Clinical Psychology | Psychology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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