This post is in response to Why Dominant Women Enjoy Sexual Submission Fantasies, Part 1 by Matthew Hutson

My last post revealed that socially dominant women enjoy sexual submission fantasies more than other women. Why is that?

Some have suggested that fantasies of forceful submission reflect a desire for humiliation. (See my post "Why Do Women Have Erotic Rape Fantasies?".) But Hawley and Hensley write in their recent paper that "If these fantasies instead reflect a passionate exchange with a powerful, resource-holding, and attentive suitor, then through them the dominant woman could reinforce her high standing in the group and her favorable opinion of herself." 

Participants answered questionnaires about what themes they read into erotic submission vignettes (masochism? emotional distance?). The most socially dominant women were more likely to interpret the scenarios as indicating that they were irresistible and personally powerful (the seducer "cannot help her/himself, I am as strong as s/he is and s/he must overcome me to have me"). Type A seeks same. For alpha females, apparently, submission is empowering.

Which particular elements of submission fantasies are actually required to get the engine revving?At the annual Society for Personality and Social Psychology meeting in February I spotted a poster [PDF] by Hawley and another student, Justin Lynn, that answers this question. Again, they used erotic vignettes:

"...She stammered in protest at his wantonness, but he pushed her onto the bed. She stared up at him as his hand moved slowly to his zipper. Before she could say anything, he loomed over her. He captured her with his animalistic passion...."

But for each gender they created six versions. Five of them had one thematic element removed: emotional passion, explicit sex, physical force, monogamous interest (was the seducer pursuing anyone else that night?), or clear-mindedness of the seducer. It turns out that force was the only element whose removal didn't significantly reduce the vignette's appeal, a finding that supports Hawley's view that forceful submission fantasies are "generally construed as an ardent, passionate pursuit rather than force per se." 

Removing passion and clear-mindedness disappointed women more than men, but removing explicit sex did not; yes, ladies like the graphic stuff too, as long as the aggressor is not a deranged robot.

Be sure to read the following responses to this post by our bloggers:

In Search of the Clitoral Truth is a Reply by Christopher Ryan

Recent Posts in Psyched!

Why Candy Crush Is Like Life

The cognitive science of Candy Crush Saga

Computers Judge Personality Better Than People Do

A few Facebook Likes say a lot.

7 Things We Just Learned About Human Nature

Field-tested insights about competition, punishment, and motivation.

Does Anyone Care About Mistakes in Your Profile?

A study examines the effect of typos and other errors.

Positive Thinking Leads to Economic Decline

Fantasizing about riches can backfire.

Why We Form New Year’s Resolutions

Why temporal landmarks motivate new beginnings.