Perceptions of body image affects sexual function

University of Missouri professor Virginia Ramseyer Winter explains how new research on hookups shows that body image can impact sexual behaviors.

November 13, 2020


Brian Consiglio: The way someone thinks about their own body can drastically affect how they live their everyday lives, and it can also impact sexual behaviors. A recent study, conducted by University of Missouri professor Virginia Ramseyer Winter, found that the perception of one’s body image can affect their sexual function.

Ramseyer Winter surveyed both men and women that had used popular apps, like Tinder, Bumble or Grindr, to hook up with someone in the past 30 days. In the study, a hookup is defined as a sexual encounter, usually occurring between people who are strangers. Ramseyer Winter says that people that do engage in hookups are often overlooked in research.

Ramseyer Winter: “What’s interesting is that this is the first study, I think, to look specifically at men, and certainly the first study to look at folks who are engaging in hookups, through apps or websites.”

Consiglio: While the research found that people that felt negatively about their bodies struggled with sexual function, it also found that positive thoughts of body image increased pleasure during sexual activities as well. Ramseyer Winter says that pleasure and positive perceptions of body image should be studied more frequently.

Ramseyer Winter: “Almost always, when we are talking about sexual health and sexual function, we’re talking about negative consequences of sexual health and sexual dysfunction. This certainly addresses that, but I also like that it also talks about pleasure. I think that’s also important because we don’t just want to reduce the negative outcomes, we actually want to improve the positive ones too.”

Consiglio: I’m Brian Consiglio, with a Spotlight on Mizzou.

Learn more about the research here

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