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Horm Behav. 2011 May;59(5):708-16. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2011.03.004. Epub 2011 Mar 21.

Sexual arousal in men: a review and conceptual analysis.

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The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405-2501, USA.


Sexual arousal is an emotional/motivational state that can be triggered by internal and external stimuli and that can be inferred from central (including verbal), peripheral (including genital), and behavioral (including action tendencies and motor preparation) responses. This article, while focusing on sexual arousal in men, provides a conceptual analysis of this construct, reviews models of sexual arousal, and discusses the usefulness of perspectives derived from motivation and emotion research in improving our understanding of its determinants and behavioral correlates. In this, it considers the role of genital feedback in men's subjective sexual arousal and the connections between sexual arousal and sexual desire. Future research and definitions may increasingly focus on its central integrative functions (as opposed to its input and output characteristics). Yet, the study of sexual arousal can be expected to continue to benefit from the measurement of its genital, verbal, and behavioral components. Instances of discordance between response components suggest that they are, at least in part, under the control of different mechanisms, and it is proposed that a better understanding of sexual arousal will prove contingent on a better understanding of such mechanisms and the conditions under which they converge and diverge.

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