Here's my senior paper on sex and personality. Enjoy!
Sexual Personality: The Personology of Sex
Dr. Laurie Pumphrey
July 1, 2013
This paper will discuss all the possible ways that sexuality and personality are directly interrelated. Although there is a lack of studies in the area of sexuality, the researcher carefully selected peer-reviewed articles that discuss how sexuality has been shaped based on personality tied in with behavior, cognition, and environmental factors. The researcher has found that sexual performance and behavior is part of an individual’s personality- an area of the human experience that is developed by consciousness and environmental factors. In essence, to have satisfaction in one’s sex life, it must start with the awareness of satisfaction and must feel satisfied with life as a whole. Great sex does not come from physical skill, but from mental ability and attitude. Likewise, having a great sex life can have a positive effect in every other area in life. Even with this in mind, it is suggested by the researcher based on what has been researched that the beginning of a great sex life will be to have positive personality traits and mindset.
Sex Personality: The Personology of Sexuality
Most sex research, in the researcher’s opinion, seems to be more about attraction, function, and performance in many cases, although there are not many research studies devoted to sex. With this notion, studying the ties between sexuality and personality is a study that requires more creativity and critical thought. It has been discovered through careful study and research that sexuality and personality are directly relational to each other and that there should be more consideration that personality sets the foundation for sex itself. Personality does not shape sexual preference or orientation, but it can create mental ability for the actual performance and pleasure of copulation itself. Sex is believed to begin in the mind and copulation can be effected and/or have an effect on mental processes that are present during physical intercourse. The purpose of this paper is to prove that not only can sex affect a person in a positive or negative way, it is also the personality that molds sexual response, performance, and fulfillment even during copulation.
Personality needs to be understood in order to understand a person’s sexual satisfaction. In fact, the researcher firmly believes that sexual performance and response is a reflection of the 9individual’s personality which starts in consciousness or awareness of the self. In fact, consciousness is who we are in our awareness (Tononi, 2008). When a person is conscious, they are aware of what they like, don’t like, hunger, emotions, and even body temperature. If a person says “I am hot” then they have an awareness in their current temperature. Better yet, if a person says “I am horny” there is an awareness that they want sex. So before there is copulation, there has to be a want, need, or desire for it and consciousness is its entryway.
Consciousness is everything that we are and we cannot exist without it (Tononi, 2008). It’s impossible to exist without consciousness because without it we couldn’t exist. The idea of consciousness is often associated with Mind-Body Dualism theory when discussing personality and the role it plays in life. Created by Rene Descartes, this theory states that the mind and the body are separate and will never be unified (Mehta, 2011). If they are separate, then it would imply that the mind exists even without the body. The researcher views this as a way of personifying the mind rather than just viewing the mind a system that only functions in the body.
Mind and body makes a person who they are and the mind (where consciousness comes from) is what determines the character of a person (Cohen & Barrett, 2008). So if consciousness is in the mind and mind is separate from the body, then the body is not needed to make a person want sex initially. If sex starts in the mind, then what happens in the body, from the body, and to the body is the outcome. The awareness for sexual behaviors and feelings starts in mind and displayed through not only their performance and functioning, it is also displayed through the character of a person. When there is initial attraction, a person may opt to give their object of affection flowers, a massage, a kiss, or some form of erotic touch. Likewise, based on consciousness, a person may have sexual feelings that are inappropriate and can lead to unfortunate practices and abuse. Consciousness itself reveals desire for sex and their character shows how they actually would get it.
Personality can be displayed through traits, which is where we get character from. The 5 Model Theory- Personality Traits (OCEAN) is one model that gives a description of common personality traits. The five main personality traits that individuals have according to this theory includes Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism (Raynor & Levine, 2009). This model draws interest to the researcher based on the idea that it is a major predictor of behaviors as proven in one study (Raynor & Levine, 2009). If personality predicts behavior, the researcher believes that sexual behavior would also be included. In fact, a study also revealed that higher levels of conscientiousness improved safer sexual behavior (Raynor & Levine, 2009). This idea is convincing considering that having a conscientious personality trait would imply that a person is responsible and considerate.
Now that personality has been defined through what consciousness and character would be, there is room for explanation as to how patterns of behavior and traits are developed. Sex starts in the mind and it is in the mind where cognition also lies. Normal and abnormal sexual behavior relies on the cognition of an individual. Most sexual issues that people suffer from stem from psychological issues that have developed from life experiences (Bagcioglu, et al., 2012). In fact, sexual function as a whole is based on cognition and emotion rather than skill or performance itself. Even before the performance, functioning, and symptoms can be questioned, the psychological state must be examined. A man that is unable to have an erection or a woman with a low libido correlates and develops from a psychological issue. The issues can range from minor anxiety, stress, or a past traumatic experience.
Some experiences that people suffer from have very unfortunate consequences. For example: women that have suffered from childhood sexual abuse are statistically 1.73 times more likely to developed sexual dysfunction (Camuso & Remini, 2010). If psychological issues develop from life experiences which in turn develops sexual dysfunction, then cognition played a major role in the sexual and behavioral development. Consciousness is awareness of a person’s sexual behavior while cognition is what creates the pattern of sexual behavior and personality. Between cognition and behavior, an individual has control over their sexual desires and performance just by changing their mind and their attitude. The personality traits are the result of cognition and behavior and it takes being conscious of cognitive and behavioral patterns in order to develop different traits.
Since it has been established that personality are a major part of having optimal or unfortunate sexual results, then it is assumed that this is a variable to determine the satisfaction of a person’s sex life as well as its functioning. There have been a few studies conducted that proved that men can voluntarily control their sexual arousal (Winters, et al., 2009). The researcher has personally heard of ideas that men, specifically, cannot control their erections and arousal, however this study has proven that to not be true. Considering that sex has been deemed to start in the mind in this research paper, this would mean that even arousal can be mentally controlled by an individual. It would take a practice to reformulate the cognitive ability of a person’s sexual response.
Another study was conducted on metacognition and sexuality. In this study, the people observed the “thoughts behind their thoughts” as a result of sexual dysfunction and it was proven that anxiety and other mental issues were the cause of sexual dysfunction (Bagcioglu, et al., 2012). This is not to say that physical ailments cannot be symptomatic, however these accepted thoughts are said to be the reason why they were not able to perform sexually. As mentioned earlier, cognition is what creates patterns of behavior, even when it comes to sex. So if a person continues to hold the thought that they are inadequate in bed eventually they will see a results of not being able to adequately perform. If a person holds a fearful thought long enough, then they can develop anxiety and eventually a disorder where they would have a hard time building up the desire to have sexual relations.
When a person holds positive or negative thoughts that form sexual function or dysfunction, eventually form certain traits- some traits being subtle while others are more obvious. One example of this is based on a study on sexual conservatism. The concept of sexual conservatism, which applies to men and women, is based on the idea that a particular person can only engage with a certain type of person and perform certain sex acts, deeming certain things and people as inappropriate (Zurbriggen, 2011). In fact, people who fall under this category can only be satisfied based on these principles. This idea comes from implicit motives, which is considered to be a very important component of personality (Zurbriggen, 2011).
Implicit motives is more closely associated with operant behaviors and has no association with conscious awareness because it looks more at the trends of behaviors rather than the source of it (Zurbriggen, 2011). In fact, when it comes to sexuality, implicit motives would relate to hormones such as testosterone, estradiol, and progesterone because they underlie sexual behavior from a biological standpoint (Zurbriggen, 2011).With sexual conservatism, there is a particular look, thought pattern, sex act(s), appearance, status, etc. that would determine if a person is sexually motivating and desirable. Their decision in their partner(s) are based on these guidelines only and failure to meet them would mean there will be no form of sexual activity or even arousal.
The motivation of people who look at status, appearance, and other specific variables are based on operant behavior because it is believed that there is a consequence if they ever associate themselves with someone who does not meet required standards. This is because implicit motives are concerned with broad desires and goals, according to the same study (Zurbriggen, 2011). If a person has a desire to have a close relationship with their sexual partner, they may have more monogamous traits and would seek a person with similar goals and desires. If they meet someone that have opposing values and traits that do not support have a close, monogamous relationship then there would not be any attraction. So values, morals, beliefs, and other underline areas determine what arouses a person sexually. The researcher does not see this as unfortunate, however it proves that biases develop based on what a person considers as attractive and acceptable.
Developed by Burt (1980) according to this study, sexual conservatism actually promotes double standards between men and woman (Zurbriggen, 2011). It promotes the idea that it is inappropriate for a woman to be highly sexual and completely acceptable for a man to be as sexualized as he desires to be (Zurbriggen, 2011). Because of this operant idea, people are conditioned to be as sexual as this idea allows based on the fact that each person who follows this wants to be a desirable partner. So sexual performance and outcome is based on the cognitive state a person is in developing personality traits that creates a particular standard of what is considered tolerable and allowable sexuality. People are satisfied sexually based on the number of partners they have (or never had), the experiences they had (or never had), and based on the sexual acts they perform (or refuse to perform).
Even though it is mainly a cognitive idea, personality traits are developed due to implicit motives because, again, a person is considered desirable even based on their outward behavior. Their behavior speaks about their sexual personality or who they are when it comes to their personal sexuality. Unfortunately, there are not many studies on implicit motives and how it ties in with sexual behavior, even though it greatly influences sexual behavior (Zurbriggen, 2011). The researcher suggests that the reason for the lack of research is probably because most studies on sex are based on superficial variables such as attraction and sexual dysfunctions that result as symptoms of other ailments and illnesses.
With personality being a broad area of study when it comes to the human experience, every type of person wants to achieve satisfaction in their life, including their sex life. Just like personality can outline a person’s sexual behavior and performance, having a healthy sex life can be mentally healthy and satisfying for an individual. In fact, having a great sex life can impact a person’s satisfaction and happiness (Lofrisco, 2011). First, achieving a healthy sex life will require consciousness or awareness the individual has of themselves. One needs to evaluate if they are happy overall. If they’re not happy then it needs to be evaluated as to why they are not happy, especially when it comes to their sex life. In laymen’s terms- even if a person is good in bed, if you are unable to enjoy it or be fulfilled there is an underline reason why the experience is not fulfilling that stems from what has been stimulated in the mind.
There needs to also be an awareness of their current sexual state and be able to confront it in order to change or repair any dysfunction they may be suffering from. This is why cognitive therapy is just as important as medical attention based on the fact that many sexual dysfunctions and disorders come from non-physical factors. In fact, it is mentioned in a study on female sexual pain disorders and cognitive therapy that sexual pain disorders in men and women are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed., text rev. [DSM–IV–TR]; American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2000) as either dyspareunia or vaginismus (Lofrisco, 2011). This is important to understand because when dealing with sexual dysfunction, not only do the physical processes need treatment, but the cognitive processes must also be addressed.
Physically, copulation (or the lack of) is the result and the afterthought of the sexual experience in human beings. Sex starts in the mind and personality can determine sexual traits of an individual. If a person feels and thinks they are not fulfilled in life, their sexual experiences- no matter how optimal the performances may seem- will not be fulfilling. Eventually, through cognitive variables, people who have undesirable life experiences, emotions, and even traumas can eventually develop sexual disorders and dysfunctions. If a person has positive traits, they will have positive sexual experiences. These sexual traits are molded by implicit motives that a person has when it comes to their desired sex life. Whatever is considered desirable or undesirable are subjective to a person’s cognitive development and the personality traits that they display. This can be considered the underline reference of how a person performs and functions sexually even without ever engaging in sexual activity with them.
Regardless of one’s belief system of sex, it is conclusive to say that knowing yourself is the first step to a satisfying sex life. Throughout the research presented in this paper, it has been proven that the standard of sex is not based on performance, but with the mind. Performance alone may be good, but it is the personality that makes it fulfilling and satisfying. Consciousness plays a key role in developing sexual personality because it brings awareness of the person’s experience. Cognition is what creates the pattern and blueprint of sexual experiences which can be developed by personality and even develop the personality traits themselves. Although having a great sex life can promote a more healthy, balanced life overall, having a healthy mind can breed healthy personality which can result in a healthy sexual experience. In conclusion, being aware of the self, developing a healthy personality breeds healthy sexuality for the individual which in turn will result in optimal sexual performance and function.
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