Cultural effects on sexuality are pervasive and potentially of great clinical importance, but have not yet received sustained empirical attention. The purpose of this study was to explore the role of acculturation on sexual permissiveness and sexual function, with a particular focus on arousal in Asian women living in Canada. We also compared questionnaire responses between Asian and Euro-Canadian groups in hopes of investigating whether acculturation captured unique information not predicted by ethnic group affiliation. Euro-Canadian (n = 173) and Asian (n = 176) female university students completed a battery of questionnaires in private. Euro-Canadian women had significantly more sexual knowledge and experiences, more liberal attitudes, and higher rates of desire, arousal, sexual receptivity, and sexual pleasure. Anxiety from anticipated sexual activity was significantly higher in Asian women, but the groups did not differ significantly on relationship satisfaction or problems with sexual function. Acculturation to Western culture, as well as maintained affiliation with traditional Asian heritage, were both significantly and independently related to sexual attitudes above and beyond length of residency in Canada, and beyond ethnic group comparisons. Overall, these data suggest that measurement of acculturation may capture information about an individual's unique acculturation pattern that is not evident when focusing solely on ethnic group comparisons or length of residency, and that such findings may be important in facilitating the assessment, classification, and treatment of sexual difficulties in Asian women.
Recent studies have demonstrated the importance of considering acculturation when investigating the sexuality of East Asian women in North America. Moreover, bidimensional assessment of both heritage and mainstream cultural affiliations provides significantly more information about sexual attitudes than simple unidimensional measures, such as length of residency in the Western culture.
The goal of this study was to extend the findings in women to a sample of East Asian men.
Self-report measures of sexual behaviors, sexual responses, and sexual satisfaction.
Euro-Canadian (N = 124) and East Asian (N = 137) male university students privately completed a battery of questionnaires in exchange for course credit. Results. Group comparisons revealed East Asian men to have significantly lower liberal sexual attitudes and experiences, and a significantly lower proportion had engaged in sexual intercourse compared with the Euro-Canadian sample. In addition, the East Asian men had significantly higher Impotence and Avoidance subscale scores on the Golombok Rust Inventory of Sexual Satisfaction, a measure of sexual dysfunction. Focusing on East Asian men alone, mainstream acculturation, but not length of residency in Canada, was significantly related to sexual attitudes, experiences, and responses.
Overall, these data replicate the findings in women and suggest that specific acculturation effects over and above length of residency should be included in the cultural assessment of men's sexual health.
Although age of first intercourse and the emotional aspects of that experience are often a target in assessment because they are thought to contribute to later sexual functioning, research to date on how sexual debut relates to adult sexual functioning has been limited and contradictory.
The goal of this study was to explore the association between age of first intercourse and adult sexual function in a sample of Euro-Canadian and Asian Canadian university students. In addition, culture-based comparisons of sexual complaints were made to clarify the role of culture in sexual response.
Euro-Canadian (N = 299) and Asian Canadian (N = 329) university students completed the Golombok-Rust Inventory of Sexual Satisfaction and the Vancouver Index of Acculturation.
Self-reported sexual problems and bidimensional acculturation.
Ethnic group comparisons revealed that Asians reported more sexual complaints including sexual avoidance, dissatisfaction and non-sensuality. Among the women, Asians reported higher scores on the Vaginismus and Anorgasmia subscales whereas the ethnic groups did not differ on the male-specific measures of sexual complaints. In the overall sample, older age of first intercourse was associated with more sexual problems as an adult, including more sexual infrequency, sexual avoidance, and non-sensuality. Among the Asian Canadians, less identification with Western culture was predictive of more sexual complaints overall, more sexual noncommunication, more sexual avoidance, and more non-sensuality. For Asian women, acculturation interacted with age of first intercourse to predict Vaginismus scores.
Overall, these data replicate prior research that found that a university sample of individuals of Asian descent have higher rates of sexual problems and that this effect can be explained by acculturation. Earlier sexual debut was associated with fewer sexual complaints in adulthood.
Differences in sexual desire between individuals of East Asian and European descent are well-documented, with East Asian individuals reporting lower sexual desire. The mechanisms that underlie this disparity have received little empirical attention. Recent research has found that sex guilt, "a generalized expectancy for self-mediated punishment for violating or for anticipating violating standards of proper sexual conduct" (Mosher & Cross, 1971 , p. 27), mediates the relationship between culture and sexual desire in East Asian and Euro-Canadian women. The goal of this study was to explore this role of sex guilt in men. Male Euro-Canadian (n = 38) and East Asian (n = 45) university students completed online questionnaires. The East Asian men reported significantly lower sexual desire and significantly higher sex guilt. Sex guilt was a significant mediator of the relationship between ethnicity and sexual desire, as well as a significant mediator between mainstream acculturation and sexual desire. Among the East Asian men, mainstream acculturation was significantly and negatively correlated with sex guilt such that increasing mainstream acculturation was associated with less sex guilt. The diagnostic and clinical implications of the findings are discussed.
Evidence from studies of ethnic differences in sexual conservativeness and Papanicolaou (Pap) testing behaviors suggests that there may be culture-linked differences in rates of participation in physically invasive sexuality studies, resulting in volunteer bias. The effects of ethnicity and acculturation on participation in female psychophysiological sexual arousal research were investigated in a sample of Euro-Canadian (n = 50) and East Asian (n = 58) women. Participants completed a battery of questionnaires and were given either course credits or $10 for their participation. Participants were then informed about the opportunity to participate in a second phase of the study, which involved psychophysiological sexual arousal testing and which was completely optional. Contrary to expectations, the results showed that the East Asian women were more likely to participate in Phase 2 than the Euro-Canadian women. Among the East Asian women, greater heritage acculturation and lower mainstream acculturation predicted a lower likelihood of Phase 2 participation. The findings suggest the need to be wary of overgeneralizing female psychophysiological sexual arousal research results and may have implications for improving Pap testing behaviors in East Asian women.
Little is known about problems in sexual functioning among young people, despite the high rates found in adult samples. It is unclear which problems are most prevalent or how common sexual distress is for young people experiencing problems.
This study aims to assess the prevalence, range, and correlates of sexual problems and distress among a sample of adolescents (16-21 years).
Participants (mean age 19.2) were recruited from community and area high schools. Male adolescents (n = 114) completed online the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) and Premature Ejaculation Diagnostic Tool (PEDT). Female adolescents (n = 144) completed the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI). Both completed the Female Sexual Distress Scale (FSDS) and the measures of background, relationship characteristics, and sexual histories.
Clinical cutoff scores on the IIEF, PEDT, FSFI, and FSDS were used to determine whether there was a significant sexual problem.
Adolescents reported extensive sexual experience, most in relationship contexts. Half of the sample (51.1%) reported a sexual problem; 50.0% reported clinically significant levels of distress associated with it. Similar rates of problems and distress were found among male and female adolescents. For the most part, adolescent characteristics, backgrounds, and experience were not associated with adolescents' sexual problems.
Sexual problems are clearly prevalent among adolescents, and distressing to many who experience them, emphasizing a strong need to develop programs to address this issue.
Many studies have documented significant differences in sexual desire between individuals of European and Chinese descent, but few have examined the mechanisms that underlie these differences. A recent study of university students found that sex guilt is one mechanism by which culture influences sexual desire among Chinese and Euro-Canadian women. The goal of this study was to examine whether sex guilt also mediates the relationship between ethnicity and sexual desire in a sample that is more representative of women in the general population. Euro-Canadian (n = 78; mean age = 42.1 years) and Chinese (n = 87; mean age = 42.8 years) women were recruited from the community. Euro-Canadian women reported greater sexual desire and less sex guilt. In the entire sample, sex guilt mediated the relationship between ethnicity and sexual desire such that the Chinese women reported greater sex guilt, which, in turn, was associated with lower sexual desire. Among the Chinese women, sex guilt mediated the relationship between mainstream acculturation (degree of Westernization) and sexual desire such that more Westernized Chinese women reported less sex guilt, which, in turn, was associated with greater sexual desire. These results support recent findings and further suggest that sex guilt may be one mechanism by which ethnicity affects sexual desire.
Chinese women have significantly lower rates of Papanicolaou (Pap) testing than Euro-Canadian women despite efforts to promote testing. Evidence suggests that Chinese women's reluctance to undergo Pap testing may be related to culture-linked discomfort with sexuality. The purpose of this study was to explore the role of sexuality in the interaction between acculturation and Pap testing.
Euro-Canadian (n = 213) and Chinese (n = 260) female university students completed a battery of questionnaires.
Questionnaires assessing sexual knowledge, sexual function, acculturation, and Pap testing frequency.
Euro-Canadian women had significantly more accurate sexual knowledge, higher levels of sexual functioning, a broader repertoire of sexual activities, and higher Pap testing rates. Chinese women were more likely to cite embarrassment as a barrier to Pap testing. Heritage acculturation, but not mainstream acculturation, predicted Chinese women's Pap testing behavior. Mainstream acculturation was associated with more accurate sexual knowledge and greater sexual desire and satisfaction.
The findings provide support for the hypothesis that low Pap testing rates in Chinese women may be associated with heritage acculturation, although the hypothesis that sexual function would predict Pap testing behavior was not supported.
Studies of ethnic differences in self-report measures of sexuality have shown East Asian women to be more sexually conservative and less sexually experienced than Caucasian women. There is also strong evidence supporting the notion of ethnic group differences in general measures of nonsexual psychophysiological arousal; however, there have been no previous studies exploring ethnicity and physiological sexual arousal.
The objective of this study was to explore group differences in self-reported and physiological sexual arousal in Euro-Canadian and East Asian women living in Canada; we also aimed to explore the association between level of acculturation (both mainstream and heritage) and sexual arousal in East Asian women only.
Seventy-five women (N=38 Euro-Canadian, N=37 East Asian) completed a battery of questionnaires and underwent psychophysiological sexual arousal testing using the vaginal photoplethysmograph. They also completed a self-report measure of subjective arousal before and after erotic stimulus exposure.
All women completed the Female Sexual Function Index, Vancouver Index of Acculturation, and Sexual Beliefs and Information Questionnaire. Change in genital sexual arousal (vaginal pulse amplitude; VPA), and change in subjective sexual arousal were measured during exposure to erotic stimuli.
The groups did not differ in the percent increase in VPA induced by erotic stimuli, nor was there a correlation between VPA and subjective sexual arousal. Among East Asian women alone, neither heritage nor mainstream acculturation was correlated with change in VPA.
East Asian and Euro-Canadian women who show similar ratings of sexual behaviors and self-reported sexual arousal do not differ in physiological or subjective arousal induced by erotic stimuli in the laboratory.