Date of Award

January 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Alan R. King


Human sexual expression appears to be freer to vary past the need to procreate. This study explores the variability in the cues that elicit sexual arousal in the general population. It aims to better understand the developmental factors and negative outcomes of having a specific sexual interest. A sample (N = 1069) was gathered using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk in which participants indicated sexual interests based on themes: Age, Physical Appearance, Clothing, Power, Risk, and Extrapersonal. The results suggest significant effects of sex, age, and hypersexuality on sexual interests. Therefore, analyses were run separately for men and women and age and hypersexuality were often controlled for. Through the use of correlation coefficients, common characteristics indicative of specific sexual interests were being sexually active, younger, frequent pornography users, and endorsement of mood symptoms. In predicting what developmental factors may contribute uniquely to classifying men and women as having a certain sexual interest, logistic regressions showed a variety of important factors including number of sexual partners, seeking a committed relationship, using sex as stress management, and knowing someone who they believe has a similar interest. Across the board, identifying a specific sexual interest was also significantly related to numerous negative outcomes related to internet usage, recent and prior relationship concerns, and affect disturbance to name a few. Most negative outcomes were found to be greater amongst males. The results suggest some normativity of many sexual interests and a need to explore further a delineation between an interest and pathology.