PSYC 4213 - Winter 2001




Professor: Alain MORIN, Ph.D






General description[1]

A survey of theory and research concerning human sexuality. The course reviews methods and methodological problems in research on sexual behaviour. It covers basic information about sexual physiology and function, sexual development and differentiation, sexual behaviour, attraction, intimacy, sexual orientation, and sexual dysfunction. The emphasis is on psychological research in each topic.




To explore the main dimensions and manifestations of human sexual behavior in a psychological perspective. This includes a brief historical review; a presentation of theories of human sexuality; an analysis of the physiological bases of sexual behavior; a description of normal sexual behavior and its development; an examination of abnormal sexual orientation, behavior, and sexual abuse; a study of sexual dysfunctions and their treatment.

Essentially, students are expected (1) to acquire basic information about sexuality, (2) to learn to use the adequate vocabulary to describe sexual behavior, (3) to critically and objectively understand the many dimensions of sexual behavior, and (4) to develop an awareness of their own attitudes, values and feelings about sexuality.



Content and Structure

(1) Introduction (3 lectures[2])

Definition; historical perspective; birth of sexology; scientific study of sexual behavior & research methods; theories of sexual behavior.


(2) Sexual anatomy and physiological bases of sexual behavior (2 lectures)

Female and male sexual organs; erection; spinal reflexes & sexual response; ejaculation; sex hormones; the sexual response cycle; orgasm.


(3) Description of normal sexual behavior (1 lecture)

Role of the senses in sexual arousal; sexual desire, aphrodisiacs and psychoactive drugs; fantasms; sources of sexual pleasure (masturbation, two-person sex, positions of intercourse).


(4) Gender development (3 lectures)

Prenatal sexual differentiation; role of hormones & the brain; chromosomal abnormalities; gender identity; hermaphroditism; transsexualism; androgyny; gender roles & stereotypes; sexism; gender differences.


 (5) Development of sexual behavior from birth to old age (2 lectures)

Infancy; early childhood; preadolescence; sex education; adolescence; puberty; sexual behavior; teenage pregnancy; adulthood; singlehood; cohabitation; marriage; marital sexuality; extramarital sex; divorce; sex in the later years; physical changes & sexual behavior; menopause & andropause.


(6) Sexual orientation (2 lectures)

Classifications of orientation; bisexuality; homosexuality; attitudes toward gays & lesbians; possible causes & “treatments” of homosexuality; gay & lesbian sexual behavior; lifestyle differences between gay & lesbians; variations in gay lifestyles.


(7) Atypical sexual variations (1 lecture)

Normal vs deviant sexual behavior; paraphilias (fetishism, transvestism, exhibitionism, voyeurism, sadomasochism, etc.); possible causes.


(8) Sexual coercion (4 lectures)

Rape: incidence, types, possible causes, psychological characteristics of rapists; sexual abuse of children: types & patterns, pedophilia, incest, psychological characteristics of abusers; effects of child abuse; sexual harassment; prostitution: types, characteristics of prostitutes & customers, male prostitution; pornography & sex in advertising.


(9) Sexual dysfunctions & Sex therapy (2 lectures)

Evaluation, description, etiology; disorders of sexual desire; erectile disorders; premature ejaculation; orgasmic disorders; female sexual arousal disorders; painful intercourse; vaginismus. Different approaches and treatment of disorders; rehabilitation of sex offenders.



Pedagogical method

The course will mainly consist in lectures, with, from time to time, films and informal surveys. The content of most lectures will be based on the textbook (see below), but the professor will synthetize and illustrate the information in his own way with PowerPoint presentations and transparencies.




The evaluation for this course will consist in three exams (75%) and one term-paper (25%). Each exam will be made up of multiple choice questions and short answer questions.

√ The first test (worth 25%) will be held on February 6.

√ The second test (also worth 25%) will be held on March 13.

√ The final test (non-cumulative and worth 25%) will be held in April during the term examinations period.

√ The term-paper will consist in a 15 pages review of literature on any topic pertinent to sexuality but not systematically covered in class. In early January the professor will explain in class what will be expected of students; the topics chosen by students will have to be approved beforehand. The term-paper should be sent in before March 15.



Office Hours

The professor will be happy to meet with students outside class hours for any pedagogical advise. Office hours: tuesday and thursday from 11h. to 2h. (Note that it is always better to take an appointment.) Students are invited to regularly visit the professor's web site for pertinent and up-to-date information concerning important dates, readings, exams, etc.

Office: 305 Horton Hall

Phone: 585-1458

E-mail address:

Web page: ***




Rathus, Nevid & Fichner-Rathus (2000). Human Sexuality in a World of Diversity (Fourth Edition). Allyn & Bacon. Available at the bookstore.



Courses / CV / Publications / Research / Professional profile /

Pictures / Cinema / Music / Compositions / Literature






[1] From the Acadia University Academic Calendar, 2000-2001.

[2] This is an approximation -- the number of lectures (classes) for each major topic is subject to changes.