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The Psychology of Everyday Life:Love, Marriage, and the Baby Carriage

Sexuality

What is sexology?

Before exploring the research on sexuality, it is important to clarify what we mean by the term. Here we will define the word very broadly. Sexuality refers to all thoughts, feelings, and behaviors associated with sexual arousal. This includes sexual fantasies, sexual orientation, the physiology of sexual arousal, and actual sexual behavior.

Sexology is the systematic study of sex and sexuality. Although there were many scholars of sexuality in the nineteenth century—some of the most famous are Richard von Krafft-Ebbing, Havelock Ellis, and Sigmund Freud—most of these investigators were physicians and were concerned with illness and pathology. There were many studies of perversions—what we now call paraphilias. It was not until the middle of the twentieth century that sexology included large-scale studies of normal sexuality. Most people credit Alfred Kinsey with pioneering the systematic and empirical study of normal sexuality in the twentieth century. William Masters and Virginia Johnson followed a few decades later with a revolutionary emphasis on sex therapy. Their innovation was to apply the principles of behavioral therapy to improve sexual functioning and enjoyment. Current sexologists study normal and atypical patterns of sexual behavior, desire, and attractions and address biological, psychological, relational, and societal influences on sexual health.



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