Rough sex is usually associated with aggression, but new research published in EvoS Journal: The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium found that engaging in rough sex may be more indicative of novelty-seeking than aggressive tendencies.
Rough sexual behaviors have been thought of as sexual aggression for decades, but recent research shows that rough sex may more so be recreational and consensual by both parties. Rough sexual behaviors have been shown to increase in situations that involve male jealousy and being separated from a sexual partner.
“While these analyses provided clues as to what motivates or triggers rough sexual behavior, several questions remain unanswered. Jealousy may be one motivator for men, but rough sex was reportedly desired and initiated by both sexes, so what the motivators are for both sexes or particularly for women remains unexplored,” wrote study authors Rebecca L. Burch and Catherine Salmon.
Pornography consumption is another behavior that has largely been linked to sexual aggression. However, recent research has shown that consumption of pornography may be more indicative of novelty-seeking behavior than aggression.
The researchers sought to expand on this work by assessing whether pornography use is associated with rough sex and how much aggression is involved in these behaviors. To do this, the researchers recruited 734 undergraduates to complete an extensive questionnaire on their romantic relationships, sexual experiences, and sexual behaviors.
Results showed that aggression was not associated with rough sexual behaviors, but novelty-seeking was. Further, pornography consumers were more likely to engage in rough sex than those who did not consume pornography. Lastly, people who engaged in rough sex were more likely to engage in other sexually adventurous acts (i.e., using sex toys, having sex in public) compared to those who did not have rough sex.
“We are not suggesting that people do not get ideas regarding sexual behavior from pornography, but decades of literature indicate that adolescents and adults clearly distinguish between reality and pornographic fantasy,” the researchers wrote. “What our data do seem to show is that some individuals seek out a greater variety of sexual behavior.”
The researchers cited some limitations to this work including the reliance on an undergraduate sample which could limit the scope of sexual experiences. Further, it cannot be said from this data alone whether pornography use causes changes in rough sexual behavior, or vice versa.
The study, “Rough Sex and Pornography Preferences Novelty Seeking, Not Aggression“, was authored by Rebecca L. Burch and Catherine Salmon.