Master of Science
Research has demonstrated that satisfying sex is a crucial element for sexual health. However, what makes good sex good, and for whom, are often not explored, and these conceptualizations are critical to equitable sexual health promotion. I therefore explored different groups’ good sex constructions using novel psychometric methods (i.e., applying qualitative meaning-making interpretations to bifactor-specific invariance tests). I recruited 13 diverse groups (N = 3,141) consisting of: gay, lesbian, queer, bisexual, heterosexual, cisgender, non-binary, kink and non-monogamous identities. I asked participants the extent to which they considered 67 sexual behaviors as representing “good sex.” Pairwise invariance tests revealed different meanings for 62 sexual behaviors on both item loadings (i.e., incremental good sex), and intercepts (i.e., baseline good sex). My results suggest that that different groups have unique “good sex” conceptualizations. This research is significant because recognizing unique good sex constructions can lead to group-specific approaches to equitable sexual health promotion.
Summary for Lay Audience
Research has demonstrated that satisfying sex is a crucial element for sexual health. Relatedly, good sex (a building block of sexual satisfaction) has also been associated with elements of health and well-being. However, what makes good sex good, and for whom, are often not explored. Further, what is known about good sex and sexual satisfaction has largely been based on White, straight, monogamous populations. Because good sex is not one-size-fits-all, and previous research supports the idea that group-identity and meaning making may contribute to group-specific meanings of good sex (especially for sexual minorities), it is important to understand these group differences for the equitable promotion of sexual satisfaction and well-being. Recruiting over 3,000 participants from 13 diverse sexual and gender identity groups (gay, lesbian, queer, bisexual, heterosexual, cisgender, non-binary, kink and non-monogamous), I was able to compare good sex differences between groups by asking participants the extent to which they considered 67 sexual behaviors as representing good sex. Using a new method, where I interpreted quantitative components with qualitative methods to derive meaning from statistical modeling output, I compared group differences for both baseline (i.e., “typical”) and incremental (i.e., “especially”) good sex. Overall, group differences for 62 sexual behavioral items emerged, with all groups displaying differences to some degree, and kink individuals having the most diverse conceptualizations of good sex. My overall pattern of results also suggested that specific sexual behaviors can carry very different meanings between groups. Additionally, I found that novelty was the biggest contributor to incremental (i.e., especially) good sex experiences, suggesting that behaviors that are more common for some groups may achieve a level of “satiation” where they can contribute to typical good sex, but not necessarily to especially good experiences of sex. In sum, there are group-specific conceptualizations of good sex that differ depending on sexual and/or gender identity. Implications of this study include highlighting the need to tailor group-specific sexual well-being interventions to promote equitable sexual well-being among groups, especially for sexual minorities.
Longoria, Nini, "What is Good Sex, and for Whom? A Psychometric Perspective" (2023). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 9332.