MEN AND WOMEN AGREE: LOVE, ROMANCE VITAL PART OF SEXUAL PERSON
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Men who have a strong sexual self-concept combine stereotypically male qualities of power and aggression with more sensitive qualities usually associated with women, a new study has found.
These men are open to balancing male qualities with ones of emotional attachment, romance and love, said Barbara Andersen, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at Ohio State University.
This study of mens sexual self-concepts, along with an earlier study of women, demonstrate that men and women show a surprising amount of agreement about what constitutes a sexual person, according to Andersen.
Clearly, men and women agree that the primary characteristics of a sexual person are that they are loving and compassionate and sensitive, she said.
The results also showed that men who scored highest on a measure of sexual self-concept were more likely than others to be in a relationship and to experience feelings of love and romance.
Andersen conducted the study with Jill Cyranowski and Derek Espindle, both former graduate students at Ohio State. The study was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
While many studies have examined mens sexual behaviors and attitudes, Andersen said this research was an attempt to see how men viewed themselves and other men as sexual beings.
In order to do the study, the researchers first had to develop a measure of sexual self-concept for men. In preliminary studies, they asked male undergraduate students, as well as a sample of older men, to evaluate 300 words as to whether they described a sexual man. From these results, the researchers pared the list down to 27 words that had the most relevance to mens sexuality. Some of these words included aggressive, passionate, open-minded, romantic, loving and domineering.
The researchers found that the final list of words revealed three different facets of mens sexual self-concepts. One facet, best described as passionate and loving, was also a facet found in the study of womens sexual self-concepts. While passion and love are often thought of as stereotypically feminine traits, Andersen said these are the traits that men chose as the most descriptive of a sexual man. Men -- young and old alike -- indicated that sexual men are those who are compassionate, warm-hearted, passionate and loving.
The study also revealed a power and aggression facet to mens sexual self-concept that was not found in women. Sexual men were described with such words as aggressive, individualistic, direct and experienced. However, Andersen said, participants in the study did not rate power and aggression as important as passion and love for the sexual man.
Finally, the findings indicated there was an open-minded facet to mens sexual self-concepts, described by words such as liberal, open-minded and broad-minded. A similar facet was also found in the study of womens sexual self-concept.
In a related study, another group of undergraduates rated on a scale of 0 to 7 how much the 27 words in the sexual self-concept scale applied to them. These men were also asked a variety of questions concerning their sexual and romantic history. These findings showed that mens sexual self-concepts were strongly associated to their sexual and romantic relationships, both past and current, Andersen said.
For example, men who scored high on the sexual self-concept scale -- those who described themselves as very romantic, aggressive, loving and so on -- were more likely than others to have been in love. About 30 percent of the low scorers said they had never been in love, compared to only 8 percent of the high scorers. The high scorers also reported being in love more often than did others.
In addition, about three-quarters of the high scorers said they were currently involved with a partner, while only about one-third of the low-scorers said they had a partner.
These results suggest that men with a positive view of their sexuality are not only more sexual, but also more likely to become romantically involved and experience feelings of intimacy and love, Andersen said.
Andersen said both the stereotypically male traits, such as power and aggression, and traits such as love and passion are key parts of a mans sexuality. Power and aggression are related to a mans self-esteem. But attributes of love and passion help men form relationships and connect with women. These are clearly the traits men see as most important.