2011 Kinsey Institute Student Research Grant Winners
The Kinsey Institute Student Research Grants are awarded annually to six emerging sexology scholars: three at Indiana University, and three at accredited research universities nationwide. Through the Student Research Grants, the Institute seeks to fund significant and innovative research that deals with human sexuality, from a wide array of disciplines and perspectives.
Dr. Brian Dodge, outgoing chair of the grant program, commented on this year's competition: "I am immensely impressed with and proud of the growth of the Kinsey Institute Student Research Grant Award program just during the past three years I have served as chair. The number of high quality proposals we receive continues to far outweigh what we are able to fund. It is an encouraging reflection on the growth of the field of sexuality research and our next generation of scholars."
The 2011 Grant awardees are:
What exactly does sexual orientation "orient?" Cornell University graduate student Matthew Stief is investigating this question in his research: Sexual Orientation and the Capture of Covert Attention by Sexual Stimuli. Stief's research uses electroencephalography (EEG) to directly measure the neurological response to sexual stimuli. His focus is the body's automatic reaction to stimuli appearing in peripheral vision. Peripheral vision engages different parts of the brain and the eye movement of the subject towards the stimuli, making this different from eye tracking studies which examine where a subject actively looks on an image.
Stief is interested in seeing whether this involuntary attention capture is measurably oriented to male or female sexual stimui. The results of the study could also answer some outstanding questions in sex research regarding a lack of a bisexual pattern of response to sexual stimuli among bisexually identified men, as well as the nonspecific pattern of response to sexual stimuli among women regardless of sexual orientation.
Yvette Hill is a graduate student in the department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University. Her research addresses sexually coercive behavior in young adult men.
Past research suggests that sexually coercive men may be deficient in reading women’s sexual cues, such as ambivalence or reluctance to have sex, and may be less empathetic to women's emotional state during sexual situations, and therefore they may continue to push or force women to engage in unwanted sex and unlike non-sexually coercive men, their level of sexual arousal and desire may not be diminished when the women express disinterest or lack of enjoyment.
Hill's study uses an eye-tracking task to explore whether attention patterns to sexual stimuli and testosterone or sexual arousal interact to predict the degree to which men report engaging in sexually coercive behavior. Hill hopes that by understanding what factors reliably predict sexual coercion or aggression, researchers can develop better prevention and treatment strategies to reduce such negative behavior.
Sabra Katz-Wise's project, Sexual Fluidity and Identity Development in Sexual Minority Young Adults, investigates sexual identity development, the process of sexual questioning, and change in sexual identity over time in sexual minority young adult women and men.
One of Katz-Wise's specific goals is to investigate how sexual identity, sexual and romantic attraction, and sexual behavior, play a role in social identities such as parenthood, and whether gender or sexual identity labels influence the process of sexual questioning. Through completion of a survey and qualitative interviews with sexual minority young adults in Wisconsin, this study will shed light on the complexities of sexual identity development, and change in sexual identity over time.
Kristen Jozkowski is a Ph.D. candidate in Applied Health Science at Indiana University. Jozkowski's project, Feeling Yes and Saying Yes may Not be the Same: Measuring Internal and External Conceptualizations of Sexual Consent, focuses on sexual communication and consent, and the social problem of sexual assault.
Sexual assault is a salient public health issue in the US, and at the crux of sexual assault is the concept of sexual consent. Jozkowski's study assesses how college students define consent both in terms of their internal feelings of willingness to engage in sexual activity, and of the behavioral indicators they use to communicate that willingness. A systematic approach including two phases of data collection will be implemented in order to develop, design and assess internal (mental) and external (behavioral/verbal) measures of consent. A finalized version of the measures will be administered to a large sample of college students and will be assessed for their psychometric properties using exploratory factor analysis. Jozkowski hopes the design of specific measures which assess students’ internal and external conceptualizations of consent will be an important contribution to the field of public and sexual health.
Previous sex reseach has established that higher levels of sexual arousal predict an increase in one's intention to take sexual risks. Maxwell Moholy of Idaho State University wants to examine the specific cognitive changes that occur that can help us predict the risk increase in decision-making during sexual arousal. His project, Specific Impact of Sexual Arousal on Risky Decisions on the Iowa Gambling Task will study general decision-making processes under different conditions of arousal. Participants will complete the widely-used Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) while sexually aroused, generally aroused, or under two control conditions.
In the IGT task, participants select cards from one of four decks, where each deck has a different payoff scheme. The study examines how the participant's choices change depending on their state. For example, an individual might take more risks when they are sexually aroused because all rewards become more reinforcing. Increase in risk during sexual arousal may also be explained as people worrying less about losses. Performance on the IGT under different conditions of arousal will be modeled to determine if changes in riskiness are better attributed to changes in reward or loss sensitivity. Moholy suggests that a better understanding of the cognitive processes underlying decision-making and sexual arousal may lead to more effective methods of reducing risky sexual behavior.
Maren Scull from Indiana University is expanding previous research on the self-concept of strippers to examine the ways in which occupying the role of an exotic dancer influences the self-concepts of male strippers.
Scull posits that in a performance occupation, including stripping, the audiences that witness us enact our social roles have the capacity to affect our self-concept and self-definitions. Previous researchers looking at the relationship between exotic dance and the self-concept have focused on females who strip for males (FSM), or males who strip for males (MSM). How the occupation of stripping influences the self-conceptions of males who strip for females (MSF) has received only little attention from academics.
To understand this dynamic, Scull is conducting field work and in-depth interviews with male dancers who perform at venues with female patrons.She is concentrating on three areas that play a significant role in shaping how individuals think about themselves: issues of embodiment which influence how strippers use their body to create a sexual atmosphere during their performances, the ways in which exotic dance is intertwined with notions of masculinity and femininity, and the stripper's interpersonal relationships with significant others such as friends, family members, and sexual partners.
Congratulations to all our award winners!
For more information on these students, their research projects, and the Kinsey Institute Student Research Grants, please visit the Kinsey Institute website.
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