Gender-Specificity of Solitary and Dyadic Sexual Desire among Gynephilic and Androphilic Women and Men


  • Samantha J. Dawson MSc,

    1. Department of Psychology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
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  • Meredith L. Chivers PhD

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
    • Corresponding Author: Meredith L. Chivers, PhD, Department of Psychology, Queen's University at Kingston, 354 Humphrey Hall, Ontario K7L 3N6, Canada. Tel: (613) 533-2889; E-mail:

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  • This research was supported in part by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada postdoctoral fellowship awarded to Meredith L. Chivers and an Ontario Trillium Scholarship awarded to Samantha J. Dawson.
  • This article was presented at the annual meetings of the International Academy of Sex Research in Chicago, IL, USA, 2013, and Canadian Sex Research Forum, Charlottetown, PEI, Canada, 2013.



Incentive motivation theory proposes that sexual desire emerges from sexual arousal, and is triggered by sexually competent stimuli. Research demonstrates gender and sexual orientation differences in the features that contribute to the competency of sexual stimuli. Men's and gynephilic women's genital arousal tends to be gender-specific with preferred gender eliciting significantly greater genital arousal than nonpreferred gender. In contrast, stimuli depicting preferred and nonpreferred gender elicit similar degrees of genital arousal among androphilic women, termed a gender-nonspecific pattern. Given these differences in the features that elicit a sexual response, and that sexual desire is proposed to emerge from sexual arousal, the question remains as to whether sexual desire would emerge only through exposure to preferred stimuli or whether patterns of responsive desire would parallel those observed for genital arousal.


The study aims to examine patterns of dyadic and solitary sexual desire in response to stimuli differing in incentive value.


Thirty androphilic women, 21 gynephilic women, 21 gynephilic men, and 16 androphilic men participated in a sexual psychophysiological session. Participants viewed sexual stimuli that varied the gender of the actors and the intensity of sexual activities depicted.

Main Outcome Measures

Participants reported their degree of desire for sex with a partner (dyadic desire) and desire to masturbate (solitary desire), before and after each film.


Men and gynephilic women exhibited gender-specific patterns of sexual desire. Androphilic women's dyadic desire showed significantly less differentiation between genders, and their solitary desire did not differentiate at all. No gender difference was observed for either type of desire. All groups reported greater desire as stimulus intensity increased.


Gender-nonspecific sexual response is not limited to the sexual arousal patterns of androphilic women, but extends to include responsive sexual desire. Men and gynephilic women, however, show gender-specific responsive sexual desire that parallels their sexual arousal patterns. Dawson SJ and Chivers ML. Gender specificity of solitary and dyadic sexual desire among gynephilic and androphilic women and men. J Sex Med 2014;11:980–994.