Self-reports of nipple erection in emotional and somatic contexts

Marissa A. Harrison, Katee Jones, Susan M. Hughes, Amy J. LeFevre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Previous research has largely ignored examining nipple erection in nonsexual situations. We hypothesized that both women and men experience nonsexual nipple erection under emotional and somatic (nonsexual) conditions that trigger autonomic arousal and sought to document nonsexual triggers and instances of nipple erection in various contexts. As predicted, self-reports from 181 college students indicated that individuals experience nipple erection when under stress, frightened, and anxious. Participants also reported often experiencing nipple erection concurrently with piloerection ("goose bumps"). In addition, participants reported nipple erection self-vigilance and concealment in nonsexual situations, suggesting awareness that nipple erection may communicate a target's emotional and somatic arousal. Implications and limitations to these exploratory findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-500
Number of pages12
JournalPsychological Record
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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