It’s The “Why”: Links between (Non)autonomous Sexual Motives, Sexual Assertiveness, and Women’s Orgasm in Casual Sex

Val Wongsomboon, Gregory D. Webster, Mary H. Burleson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Existing literature shows conflicting and inconclusive evidence regarding women’s sexual experiences in casual sex. Some studies have found negative sexual outcomes (e.g., fewer orgasms), while others have found positive sexual outcomes (e.g., more orgasms, higher sexual satisfaction) when women had casual sex. According to self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985), people’s needs are fulfilled when their choice and behavior are self-motivated and reflect their intrinsic values. We hypothesized that women’s autonomous motivation to have casual sex would be associated with higher orgasmic function, whereas nonautonomous motivation would be associated with lower orgasmic function in casual sex. We also hypothesized that sexual assertiveness would mediate the relationship between sexual motives and orgasmic function in casual sex. Participants in this study were women (N = 401) aged 18–59 years who reported having had casual sex in the past 12 months. Participants completed an online survey reporting their motives to have casual sex, sexual assertiveness, and orgasmic function (e.g., orgasm frequency, satisfaction with orgasm) in casual sex. We focused on two motives: (a) pleasure motive and (b) insecurity (i.e., self-esteem boost and pressure) motive. Results showed that greater pleasure (autonomous) motives related to higher sexual assertiveness, which in turn related to higher orgasmic function in casual sex. In contrast, greater insecurity (nonautonomous) motives related to lower sexual assertiveness, which in turn related to lower orgasmic function in casual sex. The findings support self-determination theory, suggesting that autonomous motives are important for women’s sexual experience in casual sex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Casual sex
  • Orgasm
  • Self-determination theory
  • Sexual assertiveness
  • Sexual motive
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)

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