Sample Psychology Essay Paper on Male and Female Sexual Response Models

Male and Female Sexual Response Models

            The four-stage sexual physiological response by humans to a sexual stimulus as postulated by Virginia E. Johnson and William H. Masters underlines fundamental issues that form the foundation knowledge in understanding human sexual behavior. The pioneering research conducted by the two scholars paved the way for new models and greater understanding of a subject that is readily considered a taboo in many discourses and societies. However, the pioneering model is both insightful and controversial. Some scholars have proposed models such as Kaplan’s triphasic and Loulan’s sexual response models that challenge the perceived misconceptions in Masters and Johnson’s model (Yarber & Sayad, 2016; Whitney, 2015). This essay will highlight the fundamental differences and similarities in the three models. Towards this end, the essay will specially focus on the differences in the various sexual response phases proposed by each model.

            According to Masters and Johnson’s model, humans respond to sexual stimulation in four distinct phases. The first phase is excitement. In both men and women, this stage manifests in the form of increased muscle tension, flushed skin and gorging of genitalia with blood. As a result, men will experience an erection while women will experience labia minora and clitoral swelling. This phase is followed by a plateau phase marked by the intensification of the physiological responses in phase one. With increased muscle tension, both men and women experience muscle spasms, which transition into involuntary contractions in the orgasm phase. Spasms are disproportionately intense around the feet muscles. Sudden rushes, heightened heartbeat, rhythmic contraction of female and male genitalia muscles, and sudden release of sexual tension accompanied by ejaculation take place. The last phase, resolution, is accompanied by fatigue and heightened feeling of intimacy and happiness (Yarber & Sayad, 2016). It is the resumption of normalcy in all physiological functions.

These stages present sex a stage-wise linear and physiological occurrence, devoid of physical, cognitive, and other external agents. This led to new proposals to address these perceived shortcomings of Master and Johnson’s model. In a bid to refine Masters and Johnson’s model, Kaplan incorporated sexual desire in her triphasic model to accommodate nonsexual and physical factors that determine human sexual response cycle. With sexual desire at the base of her model, she maintained the excitement and orgasm phases as proposed by Masters and Johnson (Yarber & Sayad, 2016; Whitney, 2015). However, the triphasic model treats sexual response as a linear occurrence that follow prescribed and definite path.

In response, Loulan’s sexual response model added two phases in Masters and Johnson’s sexual response cycle model: willingness and desire. She, however, maintained the four phases. Therefore, according to Loulan, sexual response begins with a willingness before transitioning into desire. This phase may transition into excitement, engorgement, and orgasm. However, orgasm is not a guarantee in all sexual encounters (Yarber & Sayad, 2016; Whitney, 2015). Loulan’s last phase, pleasure, is similar to Masters and Johnson’s resolution phase and is marked by physiological, emotional, and biological events such as happiness and a heightened sense of emotional well-being.

Unlike triphasic and four-stage models, Loulan’s is non-linear, with no guarantee that each stage must occur during a sex response cycle. Like triphasic model, Loulan’s model challenges Masters’ assertion that underlying neurosis or personality disorders can lead to sexual problems. In addition to poor communication, lack of information on sex and conflict between sex partners, necrosis, and personality disorders affect sexual desire and willingness. Consequently, other phases such as excitement, engorgement, orgasm, and resolution cannot be achieved. By addressing these critical factors, Loulan’s model accurately captures human sexual response.


Yarber, W. L. & Sayad, B. W. (2016). Human sexuality: Diversity in contemporary America (9th Ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

Whitney, J. (2015 Nov. 5). What Masters and Johnson got wrong about sex. Retrieved from: