Motivation and emotion/Book/2015/Masturbation motivation
Why do people masturbate?
- 1 Overview
- 2 Masturbation
- 2.1 What is masturbation?
- 2.2 What are the other sexual behaviors?
- 2.3 Effects of masturbation compared with the other sexual behaviors
- 2.3.1 Psychological factors
- 2.3.2 Physiological factors
- 3 Motivation
- 4 Application of the theories for masturbation
- 5 Conclusion
- 6 References
Soo, who is an ordinary 23 years old man with a charming girlfriend, has been brooding a lot lately. The source of trouble is his repeated masturbation. He used to masturbate more than three times in a week and after he did the deed, he is exhausted both physically and mentally and even feels regret and guilty. One day, while masturbating as usual, he thought, ‘Why am I doing this? I don’t need to do it and even have a girl friend. I will not do this anymore!’. He decided not to do it from now on. However, the day after tomorrow, he forgot what he decided and revert to masturbation. His repeated and frequent masturbation disrupts his daily schedule and even the relationship with his girlfriend. He is now wondering why he can not give up the deed and what keeps him to doing it.
If you have been concerned like Soo or have ever wondered the reason of masturbation, this chapter will help you to get the answer.Majority of people have sexual desire and it can be solved with sexual behaviours. Masturbation, as one of the sexual behaviours, can be an easy way to resolve the desire. Imagine that you are sexually aroused at one point and feel like having sex, but don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend. You may able to go a club to get a partner, but masturbation is an easier and faster way to relieve your sexual desire. However, frequent masturbation seems not good for your health. A number of researchers contend that masturbation has some health benefits but, compared with sex with partner, especially with direct intercourse, masturbation shows relatively worse effects on our body and mental health.
If we suppose that severely frequent masturbation should be treated, the motivation of masturbation has to be understood. Sexual motivation has its own particular characteristics and understanding of it can be helpful to escape from excessive masturbation.
This chapter covers what the masturbation is and its influences on our body and mental health compared with the other sexual behaviors, focusing on its negative aspects. Add to it, it will be figured out the motivation is behind masturbating based on two theories of sexual motivation which are called drive theory and appetitional theory.
What is masturbation?
Masturbation is a sexual behavior to gratify sexual desire or feel sexual pleasure by stimulating one’s genital or erogenous zones. In general, it is focused on achieving an orgasm. It is performed regardless of one’s gender or ages, but men are more likely to start earlier and to do so more frequently than women (Peplau, 2003). It is not certain when people start to masturbate, but according to one study, 8 percent of 9 years old boys already started to masturbate and do it occasionally (Ballester & Gil, 2006). The biggest difference between masturbation and other sexual behaviors is that it is possible to do solitarily, without a sexual partner and, of course, because it is performed without partner, there is no genital contact. Sexual stimuli are provided usually with hands and fingers, but can be substituted with sex toys or any other objects in the world.
What are the other sexual behaviors?
If we define the masturbation as solitary sex, the opposite concept will be sexual behaviors with a partner. This can be divided again into two categories; penile-vaginal intercourse (PVI) and partnered sexual behavior without PVI.
PVI is abbreviation of penile-vaginal intercourse which represents genital contacts between men and women. PVI premise only heterosexual relations and there must be a sexual penetration. It is basically the only way to conceive a child (artificial insemination can be the other way, but let’s except it!), and therefore it is not only performed to fulfill sexual desires, but also to leave offspring. It is also described as ‘coital sex’ in this chapter.
Partnered sexual behaviours without PVI
Partnered sexual behaviours without PVI represents sexual behaviors performed with a sexual partner, but without direct sexual contacts between penis and vagina. It contains, for example, anal sex (anilingus), oral sex (fellatio, cunnilingus), mutual masturbation (non-penetrative sex) and homosexual behaviours. It is also described as ‘partnered sexual behavior other than PVI’ or ‘non-coital partnered sex except PVI’ in this chapter.
Effects of masturbation compared with the other sexual behaviors
Masturbation is negatively related with mental health satisfaction. A large sample of Swedish population showed, when the other sexual behaviors are under control, high frequency of masturbation indicates low mental health satisfaction (Brody & Costa, 2009). On the other hand, frequency of PVI is positively associated with mental health. Partnered sexual behaviors other than PVI seems to be not correlated with mental health (Brody & Costa, 2009).
Perceived relationship quality and love
High frequency of non-coital sex including masturbation decreases perceived feeling of love. Based on a study of Portuguese women, people who have frequent PVI experiences recorded high level of Perceived Relationship Quality Components (PRQC) inventory dimensions of satisfaction, intimacy, passion and love (Costa & Brody, 2007). Frequent non-coital sex was related with less overall relationship satisfaction and, especially, love showed a negative correlation with frequency of masturbation (Costa & Brody, 2007). The otherstudy reported similar results that high frequency of PVI and less of masturbation were significant predictors of relationship satisfaction for both genders (Brody & Costa, 2009).
Immature defense mechanism
Defense mechanisms are psychological tools to cope with anxiety and reduce distress from detrimental impulses such as emotional conflict. Thus, people who use immature defense mechanism show many problems such as difficulty in dealing with reality, impairment of cognition, poorer mental health and even difficulty having close relations with the opposite gender (Brody, 2010). According to a sample of Portuguese women, frequent experience of virginal orgasms was related with less use of immature defenses (Brody & Costa, 2008). Many aspects of PVI, such as intimacy with a partner, seem likely to affect to the defense mechanism. However, the relationship between defense mechanisms and masturbation appears different . One study with Scottish women showed that people used more immature psychological defense mechanism when they have fewer virginal orgasm consistency and more masturbation orgasms (Costa & Brody, 2010).
High masturbation frequency and even just desire for more masturbation is associated with depression (Frohlich & Meston, 2002). More masturbation is related to less happiness (Das, 2007) and it is not only because of lack of PVI, but the two factors (more masturbation and lack of PVI) contribute separately to depression (Brody & Costa, 2009). The reason for masturbation causing depression is low mental health satisfaction and life satisfaction. Partnered sexual behaviour without the PVI has negative relationship with depression as well. Otherwise, PVI is expected to have a positive influence on depression. PVI has significant mood-enhancing function and it seems likely to contribute to easing depression. One study suggested that people with increasing time since last PVI tend to score lower on Beck's Depression Inventory (Gorden, Bunch & Platek, 2002).
It is not clear that masturbation can be one of the causes of schizophrenia, but there is an interesting connection between masturbation and schizophrenia. People with schizophrenic symptoms report significantly less numbers of PVI experiences and more of masturbation (Brody, 2010). One study revealed that schizophrenic people tended to report that they haven’t experienced PVI in their life time and its rate was several times more than people without the schizophrenia (Macdonald, Halliday, MacEwan, Sharkey, Farrington, Wall & McCreadie, 2003). Schizophrenics are likely to have low desire for sex with partner and anhedonia is easily found among them (Brody, 2010). However, the anhedonia is seems only to apply to PVI, but not to masturbation. Schizophrenics even show elevated numbers of masturbation and tend to masturbate at least once a week (Clayton & Balon, 2009). Their evasion of PVI and more engaging on masturbation seems because the PVI is the most emotionally intimate sexual behavior and therefore, it can be aversive to them (Brody, 2010).
|Mental health satisfaction||Perceived relationship quality||Use of immature defense mechanism||Depression||Frequency of the sexual behavior among schizophrenics|
|Partnered sexual behaviors without PVI||–||↓||•||↑||•|
(Positive relationship: ↑, Negative relationship: ↓, No relationship: –, Haven't found: •)
People who have frequent PVI more likely to have slimmer waist and hips. Masturbation also affects slimness and study reported that less masturbation was associated with slimmer waist and hips . The relation between non-coital partnered sexual behaviour without PVI and slimness has less consistency (Brody, 2004).
In a report about prostatodynia, it was verified that occurrence of prostatodynia is related with not having PVI (Drabick, Gambel & Mackey, 1997). However, the it is not caused by limited ejaculation. Masturbating is not helpful at all and even exacerbate pain symptoms of prostatodynia.
Resting heart rate variability (HRV) is a fluctuation of time interval between heartbeats and respond to homeostatic demands. (Brody, 2010). It is related to "mood, attention, self-regulation and responsiveness to emotional experience" (Brody, 2010, p. 1343). One study found that greater HRV had an association with frequent PVI, but the relationship between HRV and frequency of masturbation or of non-coital partnered sex was not ascertained (Brody & Preut, 2003).
Moreover, people who have frequent experiences of PVI showed less blood pressure increase to stressors, but people with frequent masturbation or non-coital partnered sex showed high blood pressure increase to stressors (Brody, 2006).
Different effects depending on type of sexual behaviors appear in hormones as well. PVI has much greater homeostatic dopamine modulating effects than other sexual behaviours including masturbation (Brody & Krüger, 2006). And secretion of the portorgasmic prolactin after PVI is 400% grater than after masturbation (Brody & Krüger, 2006).
The semen ejaculated by PVI has much greater volume, more sperm, better sperm motility and healthier sperm than by masturbation (Sofikitis & Miyagawa, 1993).
|Slimness||Occurrence of prostatodynia||Cardiovascular health||Secretion of hormones||Quality and quantity of sperm|
|Partnered sexual behaviors without PVI||•||•||↓||•||•|
(Positive relationship: ↑, Negative relationship: ↓, No relationship: –, Haven't found: •)
Motivation is theoretical concept which interpret human behaviour. It proposes reasons of action that determines the action’s intensity and persistency. Motivation is a crucial indicator of one’s way to behave and, thus, it is important to understand motivation to understand one’s behaviors. Reeve (2014) well described in his book about motivation:
The study of motivation
concerns those internal processes that give behavior its energy, direction, and persistence. Energy implies that behavior has strength — that it is relatively strong, intense, and hardy or resilient. Direction implies that behavior has purpose—that it is aimed or guided toward achieving some particular goal or outcome. Persistence implies that behavior has endurance—that it sustains
itself over time and across different situations (p.9).
See also: Motivation
Sexual motivation, which can provide an explanation for our sexual activities, is aroused by sex hormones in our body. The typical sex hormones are testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, oxytocin and vasopressin.
But the human sexual motivation cannot be measured only with these biological determinants. When we measure the sexual motivation, it has to be inferred from the behaviour because the sexual motivation, as like the other motivational states, cannot be measured directly (Whalen, 1996). According to Wittenborn (1957, as cited in Whalen, 1996, p.153), "behavior is not simply a function of motivational state; behavior is a function of some interaction between motivation and habit" and thus, experimental determinants (habits) must be concerned together. Compared to species like rats, where the habits influence rarely on sexual behavior (Rabedeau & Whalen, 1959, as cited in Whalen, 1996), human sexual behaviours are greatly affected by habits (Harlow, 1962; Rosenblatt & Aronson, 1958, Whalen, 1963a, as cited in Whalen, 1996).
Whalen (1996) stated two components of the sexual motivation and the first facet of it is sexual arousal. Sexual arousal stands for current state of sexual excitement and emerges when sexual stimuli is presented. When sexual arousal is maximised, people can reach orgasm. It can be measured by, such as, "probability of response, latency of response, frequency of response per unit time" (Whalen, 1996, p. 153).
The second component of sexual motivation is sexual arousability, which represents one’s rate of reaching to maximum level of sexual arousal (Whalen, 1996). For example, if an individual is sexually aroused easily to maximum level with just a little stimuli, it can be said that the individual has high sexual arousability. It is determined by not only "the amount of increment in arousal which is produced by each individual sexual stimulus, but also by the absolute number of sexual stimuli which simultaneously arouse the individual, and the number and effectiveness of stimuli which are negatively arousing" (Whalen, 1996, p.153). Sexual arousal and sexual arousability are not entirely independent variables, but are closely related and thus, if the measurement of sexual arousal is not certain, the arousability can not be measured clearly (Whalen,1996).
Drive theory, which is first introduced by Woodworth (1918, as cited in Reeve, 2014), is the most common theory of human sexual motivation (Larsen, 1971). It does not describe only the sexual motivation, but explain overall motivations using ‘drive’ and has been the leading theory of studying motivation for centuries. According to the theory, behaviours are motivated from our bodily deficits or biological imbalances and this bodily needs occur drive (Reeve, 2014). For example, if we are deprived water for all day, we may feel extreme thirst and strongly desire to drink water. This feeling of thirst is our bodily signal for lack of water and generate drive for drinking water. The drive gives energy to human behaviour and this energy enables us to act to satisfy our bodily needs. Sigmund Freud and Clark Hull are representative pioneers of this theory.
Hardy (1964) refutes the drive theory and suggests a new theory for human sexual behaviour, which is called ‘appetitional thoery’. Based on cognitive-affective model, this theory regards sexual motivation as an "experientally developed appetite, in which the pleasure of genital stimulation and orgasm serves as the constitutional source of affect reward" (Larsen, 1971, p. 219). Even though the orgasm is the best reward, it is not only orgasm and direct genital stimuli, but the other sort of activities such as necking, petting, kissing, embracing, exposing one's body or voyeurism which can cause affective reward if it is sexually pleasurable experiences to an individual (Larsen, 1971). The impressive difference between the drive theory and the appetitional theory is that the drive theory suggests biological needs as a source of the sexual motivation, but the appetitional theory emphasises one’s experiential aspects.
Application of the theories for masturbation
Application of drive theory
To apply the drive theory to masturbation, it should be re-recognised that masturbation can be conducted by oneself without a sexual partner and, also, it is the easiest and most convenient way to reduce and gratify one’s sexual drive. When an individual is sexually stimulated, the body will produce sexual hormones and the person will be sexually aroused and feel like reaching orgasm to satisfy the bodily needs. Based on theory of planned behavior (TPB), people are more likely to attempt a behaviour when they perceive that the behaviour is easy to perform (Churchill, Jessop & Spaks, 2008, as cited in Waddell & Wiener, 2014), and thus, when people are motivated to perform a sexual behaviour by the sexual drives, they will find it easy to choose masturbation. For example, let’s suppose a guy is watching a movie at home. There is a sexual scene in the movie and he is stimulated by it. He wants to satisfy his sexual needs, but he is alone now and his girlfriend lives three hours from his house. Then, he will more likely to masturbate rather than going to the girlfriend’s house. Pinkerton, Bogart, Cecil and Abaramson (2003) supported this view that masturbation is a substitute for partnered sex. Based on the sex drive theory, sex drive is unitary and masturbation is just one of the various sexual outlets. Thus, people with active sex partners are less likely to masturbate than people without their partners (Greenberg, 1972, as cited in Pinkerton et al., 2003).
Application of appetitional theory
On the basis of appetitional theory, sexual motivation is an experientially developed appetite and strongly arises with more pleasurable sexual experiences (Larsen, 1971). Furthermore, with more pleasurable experiences, the motivation is stronger for further and varied experiences, but the desire for further and varied experiences is decreased with repetition of activities (mechanism of habituation). Innumerable people live in the world and each of them has different sexual preferences (appetite). There must be people who are more favorable to masturbation than partnered sexual behaviors. If an individual has experienced strong sexual satisfaction with masturbation, he or she will prefer masturbation and more likely to repeat and keep masturbating.
Masturbation is one of the sexual behaviours and has higher accessibility than other sexual behaviors because it does not need a sexual partner. Several studies show that it has relatively negative associations with the human body and mental health than direct PVI. It has negative influences on human mental health, perceived quality of relationship, immature defense mechanism, depression and schizophrenia and it also has some physiological connections with slimness, prostatodynia, cardiovascular health, hormones and quality of sperm. Motivation, which provides explanation for human behaviours, gives energy, direction and persistency to behaviour and, in the case of sexual behavior, its affected by sexual hormones and habits. Sexual arousal and sexual arousability are two components of sexual motivation and they can not be measured separately. Drive theory and appetitional theory are suggested as two theories which have different points of view about sexual motivation. Drive theory explains that human behaviours are motivated by biological needs and that masturbation is a just substitution for partnered sex. On the contrary, appetitional theory suggests that masturbation occurs because of repeated sexually pleasurable experiences from masturbation.
[Sexuality in children 9-14 years old]. Psicothema, 18(1), 25-30.
Brody, S. (2004). Slimness is associated with greater intercourse and lesser masturbation frequency. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 30(4), 251-261.
Brody, S. (2006). Blood pressure reactivity to stress is better for people who recently had penile–vaginal intercourse than for people who had other or no sexual activity. Biological psychology, 71(2), 214-222.
Brody, S. (2010). The relative health benefits of different sexual activities. The journal of sexual medicine, 7(4pt1), 1336-1361.
Brody, S., & Costa, R. M. (2008). Vaginal orgasm is associated with less use of immature psychological defense mechanisms. The journal of sexual medicine, 5(5), 1167-1176.
Brody, S., & Costa, R. M. (2009). Satisfaction (sexual, life, relationship, and mental health) is associated directly with penile-vaginal intercourse, but inversely with other sexual behavior frequencies. The journal of sexual medicine, 6(7), 1947-1954.
Brody, S., & Krüger, T. H. (2006). The post-orgasmic prolactin increase following intercourse is greater than following masturbation and suggests greater satiety. Biological psychology, 71(3), 312-315.
Brody, S., & Preut, R. (2003). Vaginal intercourse frequency and heart rate variability. Journal of Sex &Marital Therapy, 29(5), 371-380.
Clayton, A. H., & Balon, R. (2009). Continuing Medical Education: The Impact of Mental Illness and Psychotropic Medications on Sexual Functioning: The Evidence and Management (CME). The journal of sexual medicine, 6(5), 1200-1211.
Costa, R. M., & Brody, S. (2007). Women's relationship quality is associated with specifically penile-vaginal intercourse orgasm and frequency. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 33(4), 319-327.
Costa, R. M., & Brody, S. (2010). Immature defense mechanisms are associated with lesser vaginal orgasm consistency and greater alcohol consumption before sex. The journal of sexual medicine, 7(2pt1), 775-786.
Das, A. (2007). Masturbation in the United States. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 33(4), 301-317.
Drabick, J. J., Gambel, J. M., & Mackey, J. F. (1997). Prostatodynia in United Nations peacekeeping forces in Haiti. Military medicine, 162(6), 380-383.
Frohlich, P., & Meston, C. (2002). Sexual functioning and self‐reported depressive symptoms among college women. Journal of sex research, 39(4), 321-325.
Gordon Jr, G., Burch, R. L., & Platek, S. M. (2002). Does semen have antidepressant properties?. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 31(3), 289-293.
Hardy, K. R. (1964). An appetitional theory of sexual motivation. Psychological review, 71(1), 1.
Larsen, K. S. (1971). An investigation of sexual behavior among Norwegian college students: A motivation study. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 219-227.
Macdonald, S., Halliday, J., MacEwan, T., Sharkey, V., Farrington, S., Wall, S., & McCreadie, R. G. (2003). Nithsdale Schizophrenia Surveys 24: sexual dysfunction Case—control study. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 182(1), 50-56.
Peplau, L. A. (2003). Human Sexuality How Do Men and Women Differ?. Current directions in psychological science, 12(2), 37-40.
Pinkerton, S. D., Bogart, L. M., Cecil, H., & Abramson, P. R. (2003). Factors associated with masturbation in a collegiate sample. Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 14(2-3), 103-121.
Reeve, J. (2014). Understanding Motivation and Emotion, 6th Edition. Wiley.
Sofikitis, N. V., & Miyagawa, I. (1993). Endocrinological, biophysical, and biochemical parameters of semen collected via masturbation versus sexual intercourse. Journal of andrology, 14(5), 366-373.
Waddell, L. P., & Wiener, K. K. (2014). What’s driving illegal mobile phone use? Psychosocial influences on drivers’ intentions to use hand-held mobile phones. Transportation research part F: traffic psychology and behaviour, 22, 1-11.
Whalen, R. E. (1966). Sexual motivation. Psychological review, 73(2), 151.