Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Joseph Vandello, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Bosson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Diana Rancourt, Ph.D.


Gender Threat, Orgasm, Orgasm Gap, Precarious Manhood, Sexual Satisfaction


The disparity in frequency of orgasms between men and heterosexual women has been linked qualitatively to women purposefully not communicating their sexual needs in order to preserve their partner’s masculinity. In two studies I experimentally evaluated this relationship, sampling heterosexual undergraduate women. In study 1 (N = 246) I demonstrated that women who imagined not having an orgasm rated an imaginary partner as more insecure in his manhood, relative to women who imagined having an orgasm or going on a dinner date. These perceptions of insecurity mediated the relationship between not having an orgasm and reporting anxiety about hurting their partner’s ego. Additionally, this relationship was moderated by the degree to which women believe manhood must be earned and can be lost through sex. In study 2 (N = 282) I predicted women who imagine a partner who is insecure in his masculinity, relative to imagining a secure partner or a control condition, will be less willing to provide open and honest sexual communication, and this relationship would be mediated by anxiety about their partner’s ego, a relationship moderated by endorsement of precarious manhood beliefs. My analyses did not reveal support for these hypotheses. Implications, limitations and future directions are discussed.