This meant experimental methods were adopted without question; it was all hard science (no pun intended).
Women’s sexual desire is often associated with being desired, for instance, rather than with a physiological response.
Women and men can also desire and enjoy sex when their bodies are “dysfunctional”; that is, when they can’t perform sexual intercourse, as that’s not the only way to have sex.
Perhaps some people are turned on knowing their sexual activities are being monitored by experts. Johnson were the first researchers to observe sex in the laboratory, in 1950s United States.
If this is the case, can we generalise from the findings of laboratory-based sex studies? They studied prostitutes in their early experiments, due to concerns that nobody else would volunteer to take part.
Measuring bodily response is not the only way to understand sex.
Some would say that sex is all in the mind, with beliefs and feelings more important than bodily functioning.
The researchers were in a separate booth where they could hear, but not see, the participants.
Electrodes were used to record muscle activity in certain parts of the body, to get an idea of force. Penile plethysmographs measure penis circumference in response to sexual images; measuring how hard a man gets in response to porn.
Women’s sexual arousal is measured by a vaginal plethysmograph; a sensor within a small cylinder inserted into the vagina like a tampon, which measures sexual arousal.
Not a particularly sexy experience, one would imagine.
In total, 145 women wore electrocardiographs to ascertain their heart rate and electroencephalographs to monitor their brain activity, so the experimenters could measure their responses to pornography, masturbation, or vibrators.