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thegrandnarrative : sexual-relationships   3

We Talked to the Scientist Who Just Discovered the Perfect Penis - Broadly
oday in "relax, men" news comes a joint study from UCLA and the University of New Mexico on penis size. After allowing groups of women to select their ideal penis in various relationship contexts, it has been revealed that length and girth of most women's dream peen falls very near the statistical average.

The 75 women involved in the survey were given 33 blue, 3D-printed phalluses of varying lengths and girths and told to pick the ones that appealed most to them for a longterm relationship and for a one night stand. The women—who were told that the theoretical man attached to these potential penises was "kind, intelligent, funny, and has a great job"—generally selected a penis around 6.3" long and 4.8" around for dating, and 6.4" long, 5" around for a one-nighter.

We spoke to Dr. Nicole Prause, the head of the research team behind the study, about how to get your sex study past the academy, the future of 3D printed dildos, and what Husband Dick looks like.

Read More: Why Are All These Adults Not Wearing Condoms? An Investigation

BROADLY: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work? How long have you been in this particular field?
Nicole Prause: I graduated with a PhD in Clinical Science from Indiana University. My concentrations were in neuroscience and statistics, which I have always used to study human sexual motivation in the lab. In 2007 I started the Sexual Psychophysiology and Affective Neuroscience lab as a faculty member and in 2015 started an arm for commercialization, to address some of the challenges of studying this topic in academia.

What kind of challenges?
We have had an ethics board refuse to allow us to conduct a study on orgasm. (There are two stories being written about this incident for Rolling Stone and the LA Times.) Grant reviewers regularly question whether anyone will volunteer for our studies, even though we have demonstrated that we never have problems recruiting participants (people love our studies, you can imagine). We have been prohibited from recruiting people seeking treatment for "porn addiction" because the ethics committee believed that showing them porn would cause them to relapse, while ethics boards in the UK do not prohibit this. The list goes on and on.

So how did this study come about?
It started when I met Geoffrey Miller as a research scientist at Mind Research Network, a neuroimaging facility in Albuquerque. I wanted to test predictors of pain that women experience during sex, which I thought should include an assessment of whether their partner's penis size was a factor. Geoffrey was interested in questions about penis size preferences in mate choice. A collaboration was born.

"Please don't call any penis the perfect penis."

The study revealed that women really only want a slightly larger than average penis size. Why do you think men are so hung up—pardon the pun—on length? What might be a better focus for men looking to attract a sexual partner?
With the exception of one investigator's data, which no one has been able to replicate, science has consistently shown girth is a stronger predictor of female preferences and satisfaction. It may be that surgeries for increasing length tend to have better outcomes, so men focus on length as something they can more likely affect. Limited just to physical attractiveness, many indicators of health that are at least somewhat under our control affect women's attraction. This includes things like weight, muscularity, skin pallor, and acne.

What do you think is the logic behind women wanting different sizes of penises for different kinds of relationships?
The vulva always tears with intercourse, intercourse pushes bacteria into the vagina, and intercourse with a condom pushes more bacteria into the vagina. A larger penis likely carries the risk of more pain and injury. However, women might tolerate this risk to receive the sexual pleasure benefits that are more likely the goal of a one-time partner. A larger penis probably brings the clitoral glans closer to the movement that happens with intercourse, while also moving the clitoris legs (crura) more than a smaller penis.

Read More: Witches Allegedly Stole Penises and Kept Them as Pets in the Middle Ages

Would it be fair to call the most preferred penis size the Perfect Penis? Scientifically speaking, have we found Husband Dick?
Please don't call any penis the perfect penis. The point of the study is that the situation matters, and our next paper has data to suggest that the woman matters too. But yes, calling the one the Husband Penis seems appropriate and funny. Should the other one be the Lothario penis?

Where do Size Queens fit into this picture?
Oh, they are in our sample! If we consider "size queen" any woman who wants a large penis, then it could be either a feature of the woman's body (clitoris farther from the vaginal opening, etc.), a feature of the woman's experience (e.g., comfort requesting longer foreplay to make penetration pleasurable), or inexperience (e.g., has not had a long-term partner with a large penis). It is difficult to know how they came to have this preference.

A grim reading of your finding that women want a larger penis for a one-night stand seems to be that we don't really care about sexual pleasure in longterm relationships. Do you think that's true?
I would argue that sexual pleasure can come from emotional intimacy. Shocker, I know. We published a study showing that women's experienced sexual arousal aligns much better with their brain response than with their genital response. I hate that finding because it makes women sound like such...women... but it probably means that the intensity of sexual interactions comes more from central (brain) mechanisms than peripheral (genital) mechanisms for women.

What did you do with all the blue 3D printed penises after the study?
They are in a conference bag under my bed. No, they are not "in use", nor have they ever been. I'm taking them to a Nerd Nite talk with me. I plan to have these a very long time. I also hope they might be useful in intimidating undesirable mates.

From a social perspective, studies like this one may help men have a more realistic body image.

A great plan. Why did your research team put all the printable dick info online?
I hope other investigators will use the same models in future studies of penis size. They may even be useful to clinicians in conversations with their patients discussing desirable, versus likely, size change outcomes with surgery. Once you have the print files, it is very easy to borrow a 3D printer or pay a third party to print them cheaply. For science!

While it turns out men don't need to worry so much about length, do you think they should worry that women are going to start designing and printing their own perfectly proportioned penises?
I hear tell that there already are secret 3D print files for such purposes that my prudery prohibits me from sharing. There was much speculation when the [Hitachi] magic wand was becoming popular that vibrators would make men obsolete—hopefully perfectly-proportioned sex toys will not be perceived with the same threat level, which I'm pretty sure was "red" for vibrators.

Read More: Bone-Eating Penis Worms Show Patriarchal Marine Life is Growing Bigger Balls

What do studies like this one achieve?
From a research perspective, this study changes the bar for what will be acceptable to publish in the future. Hopefully, this means the science around penis size preferences will continue to improve from the questionnaire-only approach that dominated. From a social perspective, studies like this one may help men have a more realistic body image. The anticipated reaction of the sexual partner is a main concern that men have about their penis size, which is different from muscularity, head hair density, and other physical features more visible to everyone. Men who have sex with women should feel more comfortable with their current penis size knowing that there is tremendous variability in what women prefer even in different situations.

What are you working on now that this study is published?
I am using transcranial magnetic brain stimulation to alter sex drive permanently. Changing the world, 'n stuff.
penises  vaginas  human-reproduction  sperm  sex-toys  dildos  sexual-relationships 
september 2018 by thegrandnarrative
Study: The Warning Signs for Relationship Infidelity
The researchers began by following 113 newlywed, heterosexual couples over three and a half years, testing for two psychological responses: disengagement, or the instinct to look away from an attractive person; and devaluation, which is the impulse to downgrade the perceived attractiveness of romantic alternatives. They found that the faster the participant looked away and the more negatively they viewed any romantic alternatives, the more likely they were to avoid infidelity and have a successful marriage. Not letting yourself want what you can’t have, it turns out, is a pretty effective strategy.

While disengagement and devaluation seem like intrinsic, knee-jerk reactions, that’s not exactly the case — and claiming that it’s out of your control is exactly the cop-out it sounds like. “Whether we’re talking about infidelity or other areas of conflict, people don’t realize that instead of reacting, they can take a moment to choose the response,” says Tara Fields, psychotherapist and author of The Love Fix. “People do have control over their reactions and their reactivity.”

In fact, it’s just like any other bad habit, according to Fields: To control it, you have to consider why, exactly, you’re prone to it in the first place. Oftentimes these impulses are environmental; for instance, the participant picked it up from a family member, or saw friends doing it. “Once you look at the behavior and deem it negative, you can then look at the payoff,” explains Fields. “How does it serve you? How does it make you feel?” Even just identifying it helps. After all, the perennial first step to anything is awareness.

Next, the researchers tracked 120 different newlywed couples over the course of three and a half years, and found additional — and equally important — factors that predict infidelity within a relationship. These include being younger, a history of short-term sexual partners, and, weirdly, a satisfying sex life. This last point seems counterintuitive, but the researchers surmised that if a person has a more positive attitude about sex in general, they may be more likely to seek it out with people besides their own partner.

In this case, it does seem like there’s only so much you can do about these predictors — and that’s very little. After all, it’s not possible to go back and change the number of sexual partners you’ve had. And even if a good sex life is a predictor of infidelity, how (and, really, why) would you try to change that?

But according to Fields, avoiding infidelity is primarily a matter of both being aware and keeping your partner in the loop. For example, “if you’re younger, you may be more ambivalent about making a commitment in a monogamous relationship,” she says. “It’s fine as long as you tell your partner.” (This doesn’t fly as an excuse after the fact, she warns. You can’t confess that you’ve cheated and then explain that you felt vulnerable.)

In other words, the predictors identified in this study are far from set-in-stone prophecies, and a policy of total transparency is a sound way to sidestep them. It’s also an indication that I should probably take my boyfriend’s confession as a good sign, especially when the alternative feels a lot like gaslighting: “You’re convincing your partner who’s catching onto things that they’re crazy,” explains Fields. Once that unravels — which it likely will — it’s difficult to recover that trust. Consider it this way: It’s much easier to preserve trust in a relationship than re-create it from scratch.
infidelity  sexual-relationships  adultery  couples  male-gaze 
april 2018 by thegrandnarrative
Friends, then benefits - Psychology
BEAUTY opens many doors. Study after study has concluded that the comely earn more, are better liked, are treated more indulgently and are even given more lenient sentences in court than their plainer counterparts. The door it opens widest, though, is the romantic one. As both common sense and evolutionary theory suggest should happen, beautiful people attract beautiful partners. But not always. Occasionally, handsome men choose plain women, and vice versa.

Why this should be vexes psychologists and biologists alike. A study by Lucy Hunt of the University of Texas at Austin, and her colleagues, soon to be published in Psychological Science, suggests an answer. It depends on whether the couples in questions were friends before they were lovers.

Ms Hunt asked 167 couples how they had come to know one another. Individuals were questioned alone, and their responses compared with those of their other halves. Those responses were mixed: 40% of couples said they were friends before they were lovers, while 41% said they were not. (The remaining 19% could not agree, with one member of the couple saying they had been friends beforehand and the other denying it.)

To measure participants’ attractiveness, Ms Hunt showed videos of them to a group of undergraduates who had not been told the experiment’s goal. The students were asked to rate the attractiveness of the people in the videos on a seven-point scale. Generally, the scores assigned to a participant by different students agreed with one another, which allowed Ms Hunt to calculate, with a fair degree of confidence, just how well-correlated in the beauty stakes a pair of lovers were.

She and her colleagues found that the attractiveness of couples who became romantic partners soon after their first meeting had an average correlation of 0.46 (out of a maximum possible of 1.0). In other words, if a man in such a couple was rated as “very attractive”, there was a fair chance that his female counterpart would be rated as “very attractive” too. In contrast, those who were friends first had an average correlation of just 0.18. Tellingly, the researchers found that the longer the members of a couple had known each other before becoming lovers, the lower was the strength of the correlation.

So a period of pre-romantic friendship can indeed erode beauty’s pulling power. But why? One explanation Ms Hunt proposes is that friendship gives potential mates time to assess subtler attributes, such as intelligence and dependability, as well as the more obvious signal of outward beauty. Given the huge commitment, by both sexes, involved in raising children, such a strategy of long-term assessment is likely to have evolution on its side.

That does, though, raise questions. One is, why does love at first sight persist? Another is, if beauty is, in an evolutionary sense, tradable for good parenting skills, what does that have to say about the parenting skills of beautiful couples?
Human-mating  dating  sexual-attraction  sexual-relationships  friend-zone 
january 2018 by thegrandnarrative

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