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Posted June 11, Reviewed by Ekua Hagan. In the study of human sexuality , the psychological factors associated with interest in oral sex have been understudied. In a post , I discussed a recent paper that proposed an evolutionary explanation for interest in oral sex, namely that performing oral sex is performed to detect partner infidelity. Future research could more profitably explore how female interest in oral sex might be connected to personality traits known to be related to variations in sexual attitudes and behaviour.
Additionally, the authors argue that having a highly attractive partner puts one at increased risk of partner infidelity. As discussed in detail in my post , Pham and Shackelford initially tested this hypothesis in relation to men, and found, as anticipated, that among men in committed heterosexual relationships, those who rated their partners as more attractive also showed more interest in performing oral sex. They considered this as evidence for their infidelity detection hypothesis, although they did discuss two alternative hypotheses, i. Personally, I found it puzzling that they did not consider the more mundane possibility that men who find their partners highly attractive might be more interested in sexual acts generally, including oral sex.
In a more recent post , Pham et al. Additionally, when they compared the of this study to those of the one on men, they found, not surprisingly, that the relationship between partner attractiveness and interest in performing oral sex was stronger in men than in women. Based on these , I would think that a reasonable conclusion is that women appear to have different reasons than men for being interested in oral sex, at least in committed relationships. I, therefore, found the way the authors expressed their own conclusion somewhat convoluted:. The current provide support for the infidelity detection hypothesis of oral sex; the differences in fluid quantity left behind by a rival i.
To me, this sounds like a roundabout way of saying that "fellatio is ineffective compared to cunnilingus for detecting infidelity and therefore our theory cannot explain why women are interested in fellatio at all. The authors do raise the reasonable consideration that fellatio involves a greater risk of transmitting an STD to the recipient compared to cunnilingus. However, if a woman was concerned that her highly attractive partner was seeing other women and putting her at risk of an infection, then I suspect that she would show reduced interest in performing oral sex to protect herself.
As noted earlier, Pham and Shackelford considered that the in the study on men might be explained by the sperm retention hypothesis. I find this statement simply baffling, defying explanation. Why would women be concerned with their? What does this even mean?
This statement appears to contradict itself: Surely if oral sex was related to relationship satisfaction in both sexes, this would support the notion that people do it to increase said satisfaction. Furthermore, prior research findings have focused on the satisfaction of the recipient of oral sex, something which the current pair of studies did not address. In another paper they do discuss in detail the theory that men may use cunnilingus to keep their partner happy and dissuade her from straying from the relationship.
I do not see why they did not devote space in the new paper to discuss the possibility that women might employ fellatio for the same purpose, instead of wasting time going on about sperm retention. The of the Pham et al. The indicate that women might have different reasons than men for being interested in oral sex, but they do not indicate what these reasons might be.
For example, one study of college students found that men and women were about equally likely to say that their most typical reason for performing oral sex was for the pleasure of the recipient about 80 percent of men and women gave this as their main reason.
No big surprise there. More interesting though, was that the second most common typical reason was for the pleasure of the giver, and this reason was more frequently given by men than women That is, men were more likely than women to say that they gave oral sex primarily for their own enjoyment Chambers, The authors of this study suggested that women who find fellatio satisfying may be those who have more liberal and experimental attitudes towards sex, and who are free of psychological blocks about sex, such as disgust at the male genitals and semen in particular. A of personality traits have been linked to sexual attitudes.
Openness to experience is also associated with a wider range of sexual fantasies and more accurate knowledge about sex. The studies on interest in oral sex by Pham and colleagues attempted to link this behaviour with a particular theory rooted in evolutionary psychology. Attempting to link human behaviours to a broader theory is a worthwhile endeavour, but in this case, I think the attempt has been unsuccessful, particularly in the study on women.
I think that a more potentially fruitful approach would be to study this behaviour in the context of personality traits that already have known linkages with human sexuality. It may also be interesting to compare motivations to perform oral sex in a wider variety of relational contexts, e. Update: Michael Pham, the lead author of the target article discussed in this post, has kindly taken the time to address issues that I have raised, in the comments section here.
Please do not reproduce without permission. Brief excerpts may be quoted as long as a link to the original article is provided. This is an essential read for anyone interested in understanding the scientific basis of the subject. Tooby and Cosmides response to Gould debunks widely believed misinformation about the subject that originated with biologist Stephen Jay Gould, e.
Apt, C. The role of fellatio in marital sexuality: An examination of sexual compatibility and sexual desire. Sexual and Marital Therapy, 11 4 , Chambers, W. Journal of Sex Research, 44 1 , Gaither, G. Journal of Personality Assessment, 81 2 , McCrae, R. Openness to Experience. Mark R. Leary Ed. Pham, M. Oral sex as infidelity-detection. Personality and Individual Differences, 54 6 , Personality and Individual Differences, 55 4 , Schmitt, D. Journal of Research in Personality, 34 2 , Scott McGreal is a psychology researcher with a particular interest in individual differences, especially in personality and intelligence.
Scott A. McGreal MSc. Unique—Like Everybody Else. By Scott A. Sex Essential Re. References Apt, C. About the Author. Online: Facebook , Twitter. Read Next. Back Psychology Today. Back Find a Therapist. Back Get Help.
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