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Soc. Sci. 2014, 3(2), 215-226; doi:10.3390/socsci3020215

Sexual Motivations and Ideals Distinguish Sexual Identities within the Self-Concept: A Multidimensional Scaling Analysis

1
Department of Psychology, Hunter College of the City University of New York, 695 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10065, USA
2
Department of Psychology, Yale University, 2 Hillhouse Ave., New Haven, CT 06520, USA
3
Department of Pediatrics, Columbia University Medical Center, 630 W. 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 2 December 2013 / Revised: 5 April 2014 / Accepted: 11 April 2014 / Published: 22 April 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social and Personal Relationships)
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Abstract

Many studies explore when and how young people make sexual choices but few empirical investigations link their sexual motivations with their inner conceptions about their sexual identities. We used multidimensional scaling (MDS) analysis to connect young adult participants’ (N = 128) self-descriptions of twelve identities to their sexual motivations and ideals. Identities clustered along two semantically distinct dimensions: Dimension 1 was anchored by family identities on one side and non-family identities on the other; Dimension 2 was anchored on one side by friend/romantic relationships and achievement-based social identities on the other. Those who cited intimacy (e.g., sex as an expression of love) and enhancement (e.g., gratification; to feel good) sexual motivations were more likely to describe their sexual identities and gender identities as distinct from other identities, especially for women. Idealizing physically passionate relationships was positively linked to a higher distinction between sexual and non-sexual identities, and between gender and personal identities and family identities. The mental structuring of identities may inform sexual relationship motives, ideals, and expectations. View Full-Text
Keywords: Multidimensional Scaling Analysis; semantic space; identity; sexual motivation; idealization; intimacy; dissimilarity; physical attraction Multidimensional Scaling Analysis; semantic space; identity; sexual motivation; idealization; intimacy; dissimilarity; physical attraction
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Sangiorgio, C.; Reich, W.A.; Vial, A.C.; Savone, M. Sexual Motivations and Ideals Distinguish Sexual Identities within the Self-Concept: A Multidimensional Scaling Analysis. Soc. Sci. 2014, 3, 215-226.

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