I just got back from the annual meeting of the Society for Scientific Study of Sexuality, held this year in Omaha, Nebraska. I know, I know, not the first place that comes to mind when you think of a sex research conference, but it wasn’t that bad. We were staying downtown, and I was happy to see some development, pedestrians, and life – night time included – in this area, complete with a very cute Old Market area.
The conference was pretty great, as usual – I heard some really interesting talks, reconnected with old friends/colleagues and met new new ones, and gave three talks of my own. I was really happy to see lots of research and symposia on my favorite topics: casual sex & non-monogamy, and they seemed quite popular, with almost all those sessions with standing room only!
My favorite talk was probably Jim Pfaus’ plenary session on his fascinating behavioral and neuroscience research on the sexual behavior and arousal of rats – a typically promiscuous species which, given the right learning experiences, can be made monogamous (i.e., prefer a known partner over a novel one) and made to form very specific preferences for nonsexual cues (locations, scents, objects), eerily reminiscent of fetishes in humans. Check out Jim Pfaus‘ work at Concordia University in Montreal.
My own three talks were an interesting mix.
1. Promiscuous People Are More Victimized but Less Lonely presented a study (currently in press in Personal Relationships) which found that college students with more casual sex partners were the targets of more relational (i.e., indirect) aggression and sexuality-based prejudice, but they actually had more friends and felt less lonely, effects partially explained by their greater extraversion.
2. Who Wants an Open Relationship? discussed findings on how many Cornell students consider some form of consensual nonmonogamy to be their ideal relationship arrangement, and what demographic, personality, and sexuality characteristics distinguish these students from their more monogamously-interested peers.
3. Finally, Disseminating Sex Research to Broader Audiences was a joint symposium with three other scholars that I put together with the goal of sharing the importance of engaging with sex research more than just academics in our field. Our presentation covered four ways of disseminating sex research to broader audiences: running your own blog (Justin Lehmiller, PhD), writing/contributing to popular media outlets (Kristen Mark, PhD), conducting workshops with community members (Megan Maas, MA), and using Twitter (Zhana Vrangalova, PhD).
The slides from all three presentations are available for free download on @slideshare.
Giving three talks myself was highly gratifying, but also quite exhausting. It also prevents you from seeing other people’s talks. So I think I just made a decision to never present more than two talks again.
And that’s it folks for this conference update.
If you’d like to learn more about all the conference details (academic and nonacademic), there were a number of active live-tweeters, so just look up the #ssss2014 Twitter hashtag!