They observed over 300 couples, who had been randomly assigned into pairs, having sex.They also studied their own sexual response – having sex with each other for science, while wired up in the laboratory.In total, 145 women wore electrocardiographs to ascertain their heart rate and electroencephalographs to monitor their brain activity, so the experimenters could measure their responses to pornography, masturbation, or vibrators.
View the full list Who volunteers to have sex in a laboratory?
Sex survey and interview volunteers have been found to more sexually experienced, higher in sensation seeking, more “erotophilic” – having more masturbation and sexual fantasies – and lower in social conformity.
They also have higher self-esteem and are more generally self-disclosing.
This meant experimental methods were adopted without question; it was all hard science (no pun intended).
But the applicability of such methods to the complex phenomenon that is sexual desire and response has been questioned by many contemporary sex researchers and social scientists.
They’ve usually had more sexual partners than non-volunteers and have engaged in more diverse sexual behaviours.