• Sexual arousal;
  • Vaginal photoplethysmograph;
  • Penile strain gauge;
  • Erotica;
  • Fantasy


Fifty-nine female and 39 male undergraduates completed 3 sessions of a psychophysiological study on sexual arousal. Subjects were assigned to one of six experimental groups. Subjects within each group were exposed to a series of four audio-tapes, and were asked to fantasize before and after the tape series. Tapes varied in their erotic and romantic content, and two sex role dimensions were also varied across tapes. Dependent measures included scaled subjective reports, genital pulse amplitude and blood volume responses, heart rate, and finger pulse amplitude. Erotic contents were significantly more sexually arousing than nonerotic contents for both sexes. Romantic content did not significantly enhance the facilitation of sexual arousal. Nontraditional sex roles were significantly more arousing for females, with a similar nonsignificant trend for males. There were significant correlations between genital pulse amplitude and subjective reports of arousal; however, for females the genital blood volume measure showed less reliable agreement with subjective report. Genital pulse amplitude was the most reliable and precise indicator of arousal and accounted for the most variance across conditions. No significant changes occurred on the heart rate and finger pulse amplitude measures. Although subjects were able to become aroused by fantasy alone, listening to erotic tapes did not facilitate their ability to be sexually aroused during fantasy.