Laan and Both, 2008

Since I’m writing a handbook now, I’ve been rereading many of my favorite papers, and I thought, “Why not share some of this with the blog?”

So that’s what I’ll do. Today in #papersIlike, Laan and Both’s 2008 paper in “Feminism and Psychology,” “What Makes Women Experience Desire?

Laan and Both are two Dutch researchers who lead the “responsive desire” paradigm I talk about all the time, grounded in the incentive motivation model of sexual response.

In this 2008 paper they lay out the accumulated evidence, from psychophysiological studies, about:

So you can see why I like this paper. It’s basically a summary of the science that informs my essential message on this blog: it is DIFFERENT for girls.

And I’ll just let them conclude with their own words:

Lack of adequate sexual stimulation – a possible result of lack of knowledge, bad technique, lack of attention for, or negative emotions to, sexual stimuli – or a myriad of different relationship issues seem to better explain the absence of sexual feelings and genital response. Probably the best cure for women’s sexual problems is helping women to allow themselves to
be sexual, and to work on the circumstances that may help them to be so.

This conclusion is, of course, empirically testable. Let’s get a couple hundred women in good relationships who nevertheless experience low desire, and let’s provide them with greater knowledge, better technique, more attention and friendlier emotions about sexual stimuli, and see if they get better.

Someone do that study. I’ll gladly provide the knowledge and attitude materials.

In the meantime: Ellen Laan and Stephanie Both. When you see their names attached to a psychophys study on sexual response, you know you’re in for a treat. My own tendency is to bounce in my seat and clap, but you may prefer to giggle behind your hand or to gasp, wideeyed and gape-mouthed, and then break out in a lucky-me grin.