For the first time, researchers at Cornell University used a specialized infrared lens to measure pupillary changes to participants watching erotic videos.
Their findings are published August 3 in the journal PloS ONE.
Previous research explored these mechanisms either by simply asking people about their sexuality or by using such physiological measures as assessing their genital arousal. These methods, however, come with substantial problems.
“We wanted to find an alternative measure that would be an automatic indication of sexual orientation but without being as invasive as previous measures. Pupillary responses are exactly that,” says Gerulf Rieger, lead author and Cornell postdoctoral associate, who conducted the study with Ritch C. Savin-Williams, professor of human development and director of the Sex and Gender Lab.
“With this new technology, we are able to explore sexual orientation of people who would never participate in a study on genital arousal, such as people from traditional cultures,” says Rieger. “This will give us a much better understanding how sexuality is expressed across the planet.”
The new study adds considerably more to the field of sexuality research than just a new measurement, say the authors.
As expected, heterosexual men showed strong pupillary responses to sexual videos of women, and little to men; heterosexual women, however, showed pupillary responses to both sexes.
This result confirms previous research suggesting that women and men’s sexuality work differently.
Straight from the Source DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040256