A large body of research on gender differences in response to erotic stimuli has focused on genital and/or subjective sexual arousal. On the other hand, studies assessing gender differences in emotional psychophysiological responding to sexual stimuli have only employed erotic pictures of male-female couples or female/male nudes. The present study aimed at investigating differences between gynephilic men and androphilic women in emotional responding to visual sexual stimuli depicting female-male, female-female and male-male couples. Affective responses were explored in multiple response systems, including autonomic indices of emotional activation, i.e., heart rate and skin conductance, along with standardized measures of valence and arousal. Blood pressure was measured as an index of autonomic activation associated with sexual arousal, and free viewing times as an index of interest/avoidance. Overall, men showed gender-specific activation characterized by clearly appetitive reactions to the target of their sexual attraction (i.e., women), with physiological arousal discriminating female-female stimuli as the most effective sexual cues. In contrast, women's emotional activation to sexual stimuli was clearly non-specific in most of the considered variables, with the notable exception of the self-report measures. Overall, affective responses replicate patterns of gender-specific and gender-nonspecific sexual responses in gynephilic men and androphilic women.
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