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CROSS-SPECIES COMPARISONS: A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK

Beach (1976) has proposed a conceptual model of mating behavior which can be useful in comparing certain aspects of sexual activity in organisms, including humans. Much previous research with both animals and humans has often investigated small, discrete behavioral sequences and has thus underem-phasized the complexity of sexual activity. Beach's model will be useful in this respect. While it still allows us to examine specific parts of any mating sequence, it also emphasizes the relationship and interactional aspects of sexuality and points out that successful completion of any mating behavior requires both stimulus input and behavioral output by both partners involved.

Beach's conceptual model breaks down mating behaviors into the following: sexual attraction, appetitive behaviors, consummatory behaviors, and postconsummatory behaviors. Sexual attraction in humans is a complex process, originating and being influenced by a variety of psychosocial and cultural determinants. Human definitions of sexual "attractiveness" vary greatly from culture to culture and from time to time within the same culture. In nonhuman species, the determinants of sexual attractiveness appear to be hormonal in nature. Most of us have observed the premating behaviors of dogs or other household pets. Male dogs are attracted by the smell of the vaginal secretion of the female when she is in heat. This attraction can be changed either by bringing the female out of heat or by castrating the male. Female dogs in heat prefer the odor of urine from normal dogs to that of castrated dogs; however, once the female completes the estrus cycle, this preference disappears. Similar findings abound with respect to other lower organisms, and it seems clear that sexual attraction in nonhumans is hormone-dependent (Beach, 1976).

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Men's Health-Erectile Dysfunction