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Sex Research LIVE!
Understanding Variation

On October 28th, The Kinsey Institute hosted an audience participation event for students as part of the 2009 Sexploration Week at Indiana University and the Fall 2009 IU Themester on Evolution, Diversity and Change.

Indiana University students were invited to join Kinsey Institute researchers and find out about their sexual personalities, as they joined in a live audience vote on various sex questions from recent Kinsey Institute studies.

Four Kinsey Institute researchers presented selections from their own area of research and study:

  • Dr. Heather Rupp on attraction to masculinized and feminized faces, depending on a women's phase of her menstrual cycle;
  • Dr. Stephanie Sanders on definition of sex, and on incomplete condom use;
  • Dr. Erick Janssen, on sexual inhibition and excitation;
  • Dr. Julia Heiman, on sexual coersion and how people define sexual orientation.

Each researcher flashed sample questions on the screen, and then collected a live tally as the audience voted with individual clickers. The researchers were then able to compare those tallies with actual research results. They not only pointed out how the audience was similar or different from a broader participant pool, but were able to illustrate the problems of drawing simplistic and sometimes erroneous generalizations from survey research. The audience was challenged to consider the cultural and philosophical frameworks that underlie our basic assumptions in sex research.

diagram of oral sex
Audience responses were compared to graphs of research results like this one, taken from Sanders, et al, "Would you say you had sex if..." ..."oral/genital contact."

Over 120 students participated in the live audience votes. Several students commented on the audience voting as lively and interesting, and picked up on a basic tenet in The Kinsey Institute approach to sexual behavior and identify - that variation is the norm when it comes to sexual behavior and identity.


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