16. Human Sexual Behavior II | Summary and Q&A

February 1, 2011
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16. Human Sexual Behavior II

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This video discusses various aspects of sexual behavior, focusing on the role of hormones, early environment, and their effects on sexual behavior in different species. It explores the influence of testosterone, estrogen, and melatonin on sexual arousal and motivation. It also examines the impact of early life experiences on the social context of sexual behavior. Additionally, it touches on the topic of sexual orientation and its potential links to early environmental factors.

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the role of testosterone in sexual behavior?

Testosterone plays a modulatory role in sexual behavior, sensitizing individuals to stimuli that elicit sexual arousal. It is necessary for the normal range of sexual behavior but does not strictly cause behavior. Testosterone levels do not have to vary much within the normal physiological range to have an effect on sexual behavior.

Q: How does estrogen affect sexual behavior in females?

Estrogen increases sexual arousal and motivation in females by enhancing sensitivity to tactile stimulation, lowering thresholds for detecting the smell of males, and increasing oxytocin synthesis. It also influences the social context of sexual behavior and may contribute to increased affiliation with a sexual partner.

Q: How does early environment impact sexual behavior in adulthood?

Early environment primarily influences the social context in which sexual behavior occurs. It does not teach individuals how to engage in sexual behavior but rather shapes their understanding of appropriate social contexts for sexual behavior. Studies on primates raised in isolation showed that they exhibit normal sexual behavior but in socially inappropriate contexts.

Q: What is the relationship between early experience and sexual orientation?

Early experiences may play a role in shaping sexual orientation, although this topic is highly debated and lacks a definitive answer. Early exposure to intimate relationships with certain individuals, such as members of the same sex, has been suggested to influence sexual orientation. However, the exact mechanisms and factors involved in sexual orientation development are still not fully understood.


Understanding the complexity of sexual behavior requires an exploration of various factors, including hormones, early experiences, and social contexts. Hormones such as testosterone and estrogen modulate sexual arousal and motivation but do not solely determine sexual behavior. Early environments shape the social context in which sexual behavior occurs, emphasizing the importance of appropriate social cues. The origins of sexual orientation are complex and may involve a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors. Further research is needed to fully comprehend the mechanisms behind sexual behavior and orientation.

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