Unlike hunger, sexual drive does not motivate people to fulfill a basic biological need. A lack of food leads to death; a lack of sex, on the other hand, does not. Both biological and psychological factors strongly influence sexual drive.
One of the first researchers to give a modern account of human sexuality wasAlfred Kinsey. In the 1940s, he and his colleagues interviewed more than 18,000 U.S. men and women about their sexual behavior and attitudes. In his comprehensive reports about human sexuality, Kinsey denounced the repressive social attitudes of his time, which he said bore little relation to actual sexual practices. Kinsey provided statistics showing that sexual practices varied widely and that even in the 1940s there was a high prevalence of masturbation and premarital sex. These statistics shocked many people of his day.
Critics of Kinsey’s research maintained three arguments:
Other pioneers of sexual research were William Masters and Virginia Johnson. In the 1960s, they studied several hundred male and female volunteers who agreed to either masturbate or have intercourse in a laboratory. Masters and Johnson hooked up the volunteers to instruments that measured various physiological indicators during sexual activity. Using the results of these studies, they described the sexual response cycle.
Masters and Johnson divided the human sexual response cycle into four phases:
Critics of Masters and Johnson’s research maintained two arguments: