Ethnic differences in visual attention to sexual stimuli among Asian and White heterosexual women and men

Asha Ganesan, James S. Morandini, Aaron Veldre, Kevin J. Hsu, Ilan Dar-Nimrod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Previous theory suggests that women's sexual response patterns are more dependent on cultural context than men's. However, there is little empirical data on culture-based sexual responding between women versus men using psychophysiological methods. In this study, we used eye-tracking to compare the visual attention patterns to explicit sexual stimuli among heterosexual women and men of Asian and White ethnicity residing in Australia. Overall, we found greater variability in Asian versus White women's sexual responding to erotic material than in Asian vs. White men. When gazing at explicit images of men, women, and couples engaged in sex acts, Asian women demonstrated greater visual avoidance of genital regions than White women. Lower sexual sensation-seeking fully mediated Asian women's greater visual avoidance of genital regions in solo images, and partly mediated their greater avoidance of genital-contact regions in couple images. Asian men showed broadly similar attentional patterns to White men, except for reduced attention to facial regions of males. Neither sensation-seeking nor disgust explained Asian men's lower fixation on male faces. Our findings suggest that cultural effects on sexual responding are more accentuated in women than men, supporting the view that sexual responses vary by ethnicity and culturally-differentiated mediators, particularly for women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109630
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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