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  1. John Paul McKinney

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0530

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

McKinney, J. P. 2010. Masturbation. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1.

Author Information

  1. Michigan State University

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Masturbation is the term used to signify any type of autoerotic stimulation. Both males and females indulge in stimulation of the genitals for sexual gratification. The term is also applied to an infant's manipulation of the genitals, a common exploratory behavior in the early years. During adolescence, masturbation becomes one of the main sexual outlets, and remains so for many adults. Michael, Gagnon, Laumann, and Kolata (1994) found that among Americans, 60% of men and 40% of women report that they have masturbated during the past year, and 25% of men and 10% of women say they masturbate at least once a week. While estimates vary, depending on the studies cited and the specific approaches used in collecting the data, it is generally accepted that there has been an increase in the acceptance and practice of this behavior in recent years, such that the behavior is reported to occur more frequently than in the past and to be initiated at an earlier age. (Francoeur, 1998; Dekker & Schmidt, 2002). These changes have occurred irrespective of whether or not the individuals are in a sexual relationship, and regardless of the satisfaction obtained from that relationship.


  • autoerotic;
  • genital manipulation;
  • sexual behavior