Groin Skin Temperature: Testing the Validity of a Relatively Unobtrusive Physiological Measure of Psychosexual Arousal


  • This research partially fulfilled the requirements for the first author's Ph.D. in the Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Funding was provided by NIMH Grant MH-1426 USPH to the Experimental Psychology Program. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and by the Smith Graduate Research Fund.

  • These results were presented, in part, at the annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex, November, 1981, New York.

  • The authors would like to thank Dr. Julia Heiman, Dr. Barbara James. Dr. Morris Lipton, Dr. Paul Obrist, and Dr. Richard Udry for their critical reading of an earlier draft of this manuscript.

Address requests for reprints to: David Eckerman, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27514.


The validity of groin skin temperature as a relatively unobtrusive physiological measure of psychosexual arousal was tested for both males and females. Groin skin temperature and hemodynamic (penile circumference, vaginal blood volume, and vaginal pulse amplitude) changes induced by erotic and non-erotic film presentations were monitored in 10 male and 10 female volunteers. Significant positive correlations (p<.001) between the measures were obtained for 16 of 20 subjects. Implications of the findings for detecting low levels of psychosexual arousal are discussed.