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J Sex Res. 2007 May;44(2):111-21.

Does subliminal exposure to sexual stimuli have the same effects on men and women?

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis, CA, USA.


Three studies explored gender differences in explicit and implicit components of sexual arousal following brief exposure to a sexual stimulus. Whereas Study 1 assessed reports of sexual arousal following subliminal exposure to a sexual or a neutral picture, Studies 2 and 3 examined the effects of the same priming procedure on accessibility of sex-related thoughts assessed with a pictorial judgment task and a lexical decision task. The subliminal sexual prime did not have an effect on men's reports of sexual arousal, but caused women to report lower levels of sexual arousal. In contrast, the same subliminal sexual prime led to higher accessibility of sex-related thoughts in both men and women. It is therefore suggested that the subliminal sexual prime causes women to activate sex-related mental contents but to experience the result as somewhat aversive.

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