Risk Taking & Sexual Arousal

When it comes to condom use among heterosexual couples, there’s evidence that women are often expected to be the sensible ones, in terms of raising and enforcing the issue. A new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour suggests this isn’t just unfair, it’s unwise too – both men and women show a similarly increased inclination for risk-taking when they are sexually aroused.

The Canadian research team, led by Shayna Skakoon-Sparling, recruited 144 heterosexual undergrads to take part in what they were told was a study of gender differences in preferences for video clips. Half the participants watched 2-minute clips from the 2007 pornographic film Under The Covers – featuring consensual sex and generally considered to be appealing to both men and women – the other participants acted as controls and watched non-sexual video clips, for example from the Pixar film Wall-E.

After each clip the participants answered questions about their mood and sexual arousal, and they said how they’d behave in a number of hypothetical sexual encounters – for example, whether they’d go ahead and have sex even though neither they nor their partner had a condom. To read more from Christian Jarrett, click here.