Investigating the Underlying Structure in Sadomasochistically Oriented Behavior

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This study explores the extent to which 29 individual sexual behaviors, previously identified in L. Alison, P. Santtila, N. K. Sandnabba, and N. Nordling (2001), as each being associated with 1 of 4 different broad themes of sadomasochistically oriented behavior, represent different scales of intensity within each theme. The themes were as follows: hypermasculinity, administration and receipt of pain, physical restriction, and humiliation. For example, we wanted to establish whether skinbranding is a more intense expression of pain than spanking; whether faceslapping is a more intense expression of humiliation than flagellation, and so on. One hundred and eighty-four participants (22 women and 162 men) who were members of two sadomasochistically oriented clubs gave information concerning which of the 29 sexual behaviors they had participated in during the preceding 12 months. A multivariate analysis (POSAC; Shye, 1994) supported the existence of cumulative scales in each of the 4 themes, suggesting that the order in which people engage in different sadomasochistic behaviors is not random and that specific, less intense behaviors generally precede more intense behaviors.

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