18 takeaways from this lecture:
[EDITOR’S NOTE: The research and findings from studies outlined in this lecture were conducted in the 1980s by psychologist Glenn D. Wilson and others. “Evolutionary psychology (EP) has generated controversy and criticism,” and are discussed on the Criticism of evolutionary psychology wikipedia page.]
00:00:30 “More sex takes place in our head than in our bed.” The late sex therapist Helen Kaplan argued that sex is a combination of friction and fantasy, requiring both physical and mental stimulation in order to create arousal and achieve sexual satisfaction.
Sex = Friction + Fantasy
The physical component (friction) is the obvious act of sex, and the easiest to manage. The mental stimulation, however, is highly subjective from person to person, and is a sort of move script each person writes for themselves which is built upon hopes, memories, and expectations and experiences developed during their lifetime.
Fantasy exceeds reality because it takes place in the mind where there are no limits to creativity, no resistance and rejection, and where one isn’t required to abide by societal norms, attitudes and limitations.
Fantasies, thus, often surpass reality.
00:03:00 Currently, one of the best ways to measure sexual fantasy is through questionnaires, usually anonymously.
Glenn Wilson’s own Sex Fantasy Questionnaire (SFQ) provided a list of sexual fantasies gleaned through research and asked respondents to rate each fantasy from 0 – never to 5 – regularly.
Using factor analysis, he then turned those questionnaires into a top four of sexual fantasies:
- Exploratory – Orgies, promiscuity, and mate sharing…
- Intimate – Passionate kissing, intercourse with a lover, sex in public…
- Impersonal – Sex alone using objects, voyeurism…
- Sadomasochistic – Bondage, control, spanking…
Highlights from the results of this questionnaire:
- Men were twice as likely to have fantasies than women, yet women were twice as likely to return the questionnaire.
- Men showed the greatest interest in both exploratory (partner swapping) and impersonal (sex toys andvoyeurism).
00:08:21 One of the main reasons men have more sexual fantasies than men is because of testosterone – which increases sexual appetite. Testosterone supplements given to menopausal woman can increase sexual appetite, and anti-androgens have been found to actually lower libido and fantasies in men, and have been used on sexual criminals.
00:10:01 Sexual fantasies among men and women manifest in different ways:
- Men tend to prefer multiple partners who are young and anonymous, and focus on pornographic, physicial details of the women’s bodies.
- Women prefer identified (often famous) individuals, and focus more on emotional and romantic details.
These sexual fantasies seem to correspond with the theory of parental investment theory, which holds that in any species, the gender which invests more in reproduction (usually female as she is responsible for child birth and rearing) will be much more selective than her male counterpart.
00:11:13 With sexual fantasies, studies found (Wilson & Lang, 1981) that men are twice as likely to fantasize about active roles, but both men and women are similar in their preference for passive roles.
00:13:36 Studies have also found (Wilson & Lang, 1981) that men fantasize when they are sexually deprived, disappointed or frustrated, while women actually fantasize when they are sexually active and more or less satisfied.
00:16:19 With sexual fantasies, only 26% of men and 32% of women are willing to share their fantasies with their partner, depending in part on whether or not the partner plays a role in the fantasy. Although the majority of people claimed they wouldn’t be jealous of their partner’s fantasizing about someone else, is telling your lover you fantasize about someone else or about a scenario they may reject you for really a risk you want to take?
00:17:55 In a free narrative sexual fantasy conducted by Glenn Wilson in 1987, it was found that men preferred voyeuristic and fetishistic group sex here their partner was involved, while women were also open to the idea of group sex where their partner was involved, however with a preference for a romantic setting.
00:19:04 In the above free narrative study, it was found that 13% of women fantasize about rape or force in some form or another. To clarify, these results didn’t suggest women wanted to be raped, but rather they wanted to feel irresistably attractive in the eyes of the lover they were fantasizing about.
00:20:06 Some researchers have found a positive correlation between force fantasies and women who had ben sexually abused during childhood, with the outcome depending on whether the emotional outcome of the experience had been arousing or distressing. Globally, force fantasies appear to be unnecessarily unhealthy, as the force fantasies in women being associated with women who are satisfied with their sex lives.
00:21:57 A surprising majority of men aren’t against submissive, sadomasochistic experiences such as being whipped and bound, especially those who occupy high-level positions. The theories are that:
- Motherly discipline in early life became associated with the man’s first experience of sexual arousal.
- High-status individuals must make so many decisions and have their professional lives and agenda so controlled for them that they desire submissively having decisions forced upon them. But this could be that more men than just high-status individuals prefer this fantasy, but that these news stories make for great ratings when it involves high-status individuals.
- Fear, sexual desire, and aggression all involve adrenaline, which can lead to a cocktail of fetishes.
00:26:21 One study (Wilson, 1988) compared ‘normal’ men with men who frequented kinky, fetishist clubs, and found that sasomasochists score the highest across the board. The majority of all men-types questionned were content fantasizing about intimate fantasies of passionate kissing, intercourse with a lover, sex in public… (mentioned above)
00:27:51 A ‘variance quotient’ of:
VQ=(Impersonal + Sadomasochistic)/(Intimate + Explatory)
has been derived from this research, and has since been used in ongoing research. For instance, it has been found that paraphilic men tend to have:
- several older brothers
- feminine finger ratios (2nd to 4th finger ratio)
- tend to be left-handed
00:30:57 The above findings concern non-dangerous men with unusual sexual fantasies, and recall that kinky fantasies are common among healthy men. However, with regard to the small percentage of male paraphilic fantasies that become dangerous and criminal, those men tend to:
- ‘Show escalating patterns of fantasy followed by behavioral rehearsals’
- Hone in on one unwilling target, and becoming fixed on them.
- Hold low-level entry jobs such as a bouncers, barmen, and amusement park workers.
- Meticulously plan their crimes from start to finish
- Aren’t interested in finding a consenting partner to play out their fantasies
- Lack the ability to feel empathy and emotional connection
[EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information on this, watch Glenn Wilson’s lectures Introduction & Methodology of Profiling Serial Killers and Love Sickness: The Problematic & Pathological Side of Love at Gresham College.]
00:33:14 The Sex Fantasy Questionnaire (SFQ) has also been applied to assessing the risk of child sex offenders. Child sex offenders tend to be very exploratory and intimate (see chart above)
00:36:35 While many healthy men have kinky fantasies, only a small percentage rapists become excited at the thought of a resisting victim, with most men preferring sex with a consenting partner who enjoyed the experience with them.
One problem rapists have is their inability to recognize and acknowledge a person’s refusal or rejection to thier sexual advances, believing the rejection to be insincere or ‘just a part of the dating game.’
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recall in Glenn Wilson’s lecture Love Sickness: The Problematic & Pathological Side of Love that women have been known to qualify men and test their devotion by putting them through ‘tests.’ The man’s persistence can pay off, provided he correctly reads her cues.
For more information on how to read male/femaie body language, watch the short documentary Sex & Love: Interpreting Body Language & Non-Verbal Flirting Cues.]
00:39:16 Other factors that can contribute to criminal sexual behavior include:
- Sexual fantasies which are obsessional and grow more and more violent with the passing of time, and trial behaviors to test, or rehearse, the fantasy.
- Coming from a dysfunctional family where multiple family members have been involved in criminal activity.
- Having specific personality traits such as psychopathy
- General attitudes such as anger and hostility towards women or a particular demographic of people.
- Feeling inadequate, impotent or out of control of one’s life and decisions, socially isolated from the world.
00:43:01 Common “fantasy tends to dwell on the positive erotic aspects of the scenario,” whereas criminal intent would focus more on the logistics, practicality and overcoming difficulties in implementing their plan.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: For more on what makes people become serial killers and psychopaths, watch the TED Talk Exploring The Mind of Killers & Psychopaths.]