Aggressive and Humiliating Sexual Play: Occurrence Rates and Discordance Between the Sexes

Menelaos Apostolou, Michalis Khalil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study attempted to understand people’s desires for aggressive and humiliating sexual play, both in terms of interests and fantasy. An evolutionary framework has been developed which generated five hypotheses to be tested. Evidence from a qualitative study of 102 participants identified 13 aggressive and sexual acts which were commonly preferred. A subsequent quantitative online study of 1026 men and women asked participants to rate the desirability of these acts. The results indicated that more than 70% of participants found at least one aggressive or humiliating sexual play desirable, whereas about half of the participants found at least three such acts desirable. Significant sex differences were also found, with men desiring to engage in such play more than women. This discordance was moderated by the willingness of each party to partially accommodate each other’s desires. On the basis of these findings and the proposed theoretical framework, it is concluded that aggressive and humiliating sexual play constitutes a normal variation in sexual desire.

Original languageEnglish
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2018


  • Aggressive sexual play
  • Humiliating sexual play
  • Masochism
  • Sadism
  • Sex differences


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