A critical look at the genetics of orgasm

PsyBlog has done a great job of tracking down some critical views on recent reports that suggest there may be a genetic contribution to women’s ability to orgasm and whether this relates to an evolutionary role for sexual climax.

The comments are from psychologist Dr Petra Boyton and bear reading in full.

She criticises both the original research findings, and the subsequent way the media have reported the results.

Some criticisms are more telling than others – the fact that the research “wasn’t published in a recognised sex journal” seems a little circumstantial to me – but overall, it’s a well needed analysis of the recent media frenzy.

Link to article ‘ Women, orgasm and genetics’.
Link to article ‘Women! Don‚Äôt orgasm so easily’

2 Comments

  1. Posted June 10, 2005 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Carl Zimmer has a post about this:

    http://www.corante.com/loom/archives/2005/06/09/o_is_for.php

    And he points out that Elizabeth Lloyd herself has something to say about the topic over at the Philosophy of Biology blog

    http://philbio.typepad.com/philosophy_of_biology/2005/06/lisa_lloyds_vie.html

  2. Posted June 11, 2005 at 5:06 am | Permalink

    Dr. Boynton makes some interesting points concerning the way sexual (dys)function is operationalized in the study. One fundamental problem with her criticism though is that if she’s right that the questions the authors use are misconceived or confused, the net result should be a lower estimate of heredity. Under the most commonly used twin study designs, poor measures (i.e., low reliability) result in inflation of the unshared environmental estimate. So if anything, the fact that the researchers obtained an estimate of moderate heredity from just a couple of questions should suggest that the actual value is somewhat higher (unless the researchers already corrected for attenuation–I haven’t read the original report)…


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