Cowart–Pollack Scale of Sexual Experience

Cowart–Pollack Scale of Sexual Experience

DEBRA COWART-STECKLER,University of Mary Washington

ROBERT H. POLLACKUniversity of Georgia

The Cowart–Pollack Scale of Sexual Experience consists of two checklists of heterosexual activities: one for men and another for women. It was developed to assess the sex- ual experience of an individual or group of individuals in research, therapy, or the classroom.

Description

The checklists comprise a wide range of sexual activities for men and women, including oral contacts, masturbation, various intercourse positions, anal intercourse, and bondage. The female scale consists of 30 sexual activities. They range from “your nude breast felt by male” to “anal intercourse.” The male scale consists of 31 sexual activities, ranging from “feeling female’s nude breast” to “bondage.”

Initially, the sexual experience scales consisted of 47 items drawn from previous studies (Bentler, 1968a, 1968b; Zuckerman, 1973). These 47-item scales were distributed to 153 men and 226 women during a group-testing session. After completion, the items were ordered from most to least frequent according to the percentages of subjects who reported that they had engaged in such behavior. In accordance with the Cornell technique of Guttman scaling with two response categories, the top and bottom 10% of the items were discarded. This procedure yielded the present scales.

Investigations of the range of heterosexual experiences have shown a predictable sequence of experiences for men and women (Cowart & Pollack, 1979; Cowart-Steckler, 1984). These experiences can be described using the Cornell technique of Guttman scaling in which the behaviors are ordered from most frequent to least frequent (Guttman, 1947). Guttman scaling assumes that an individual who experiences a less frequent behavior previously has experienced the more common behavior (Edwards, 1957). Applying the Guttman scaling technique to sexual experiences suggests that heterosexual relationships progress through similar sequences of experiences. An individual who responds to this scale, then, can be compared to the normative sample and the level of sexual experience can be ascertained.

The Cowart–Pollack scale has been standardized using a college-aged sample (aged 18 to 21) and, therefore, is appropriate for people in that age group. Distributing the questionnaire to people of different ages may yield a different ordering in the sequence of behaviors.

Response Mode and Timing

When the scale is used in research, therapy, or to assess one’s level of sexual experience, the items are ordered ran- domly. Respondents indicate that they have or have not experienced each behavior by circling yes or no in answer to the question “Have you experienced the following?” The scale usually requires an average of 10 minutes for completion.

Scoring

No scoring per se is required. A comparison between the ordering of the respondent’s experiences and the norms established by the Cowart–Pollack scale will give an accurate indication of the respondent’s level of sexual experience.

Reliability and Validity

The Cowart–Pollack scale has been distributed twice to large groups of college-aged individuals. In 1979 (Cowart & Pollack, 1979), the 31-item scale for men and the 30- item scale for women were administered in a group-testing situation to 199 men and 213 women. The coefficient of reproducibility for the male and female scales was .85 and‌ .88, respectively. A coefficient of at least .85 indicates reliability in the ordering of behaviors (Edwards, 1957).

In 1983 the Cowart–Pollack scale was distributed to 197 men and 212 women (Cowart-Steckler, 1984). These sub- jects were demographically similar to the subjects in 1979. The coefficient of reproducibility was .88 for the male scale and .87 for the female scale.

The major difference in the results of the 1979 and 1983 distribution was not in the ordering of sexual experiences but in the numbers of men and women engaging in most types of sexual experiences. There were significantly more men and women from the 1983 sample engaging in sexual activities. This finding suggests that, at least for individuals aged 18 to 21, there has been an increase in sexual activity from 1979. As the coefficients of reproducibility indicate, the results of the 1983 distribution represent a reliable and stable sequence of events.

Address correspondence to Debra Cowart-Steckler, Department of Psychology, University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, VA 22401; e-mail: [email protected]

Cowart–Pollack Scale of Sexual Experience

Men (= 197)

Women (= 212)

Activity

% Yesa

Activity

% Yes

Feeling female’s nude breast

98

Your nude breast felt by male

91

Male mouth contact with female’s nude breast

94

Male mouth contact with your breast

91

Exposure to erotic materials sold openly in

Penetration of vagina by male’s finger

83

newsstands

93

Male lying prone on female without penetration

83

Male finger penetration of vagina

92

Partner’s observation of your nude body

80

Your observation of nude partner

91

Clitoral manipulation by male

79

Partner’s observation of your nude body

91

Your observation of nude partner

78

Clitoral manipulation by male

90

Male manipulation of vulva

77

Manipulation of penis by female

90

Manipulation of penis by female

76

Male lying prone on female without penetration

87

Sexual intercourse, male superior

67

Female mouth contact with penis

86

Female mouth contact with penis

67

Male manipulation of vulva

84

Male mouth contact with vulva

66

Sexual intercourse, male superior

83

Male tongue manipulation of clitoris

66

Masturbation

81

Male tongue penetration of vagina

66

Clitoral manipulation to orgasm by male

78

Sexual intercourse, face to face, side

60

Male mouth contact with vulva

77

Showering or bathing with partner

58

Sexual intercourse, partially clothed

77

Exposure to erotic materials sold openly in

Male tongue penetration of vagina

76

newsstand

58

Male tongue manipulation of clitoris

75

Sexual intercourse, partially clothed

56

Mutual oral stimulation of genitals to orgasm

74

Clitoral manipulation to orgasm by male

55

Sexual intercourse, face to face, side

73

Sexual intercourse, female superior

55

Exposure to hardcore erotic materials

72

Masturbation

54

Sexual intercourse, female superior

71

Sexual intercourse, vagina entered from rear

46

Showering or bathing with partner

68

Mutual oral stimulation of genitals to orgasm

45

Male tongue manipulation of female genitals to orgasm

66

Male tongue manipulation of your genitals to orgasm

45

Sexual intercourse, vagina entered from rear

63

Hand contact with partner’s anal area

40

Hand contact with partner’s anal area

61

Sexual intercourse, sitting position

37

Sexual intercourse, standing

48

Sexual intercourse, standing

28

Sexual intercourse, sitting

48

Exposure to hardcore erotic materials

24

Finger penetration of partner’s anus

39

Finger penetration of partner’s anus

19

Use of mild pain

16

Anal intercourse

13

From Cowart-Steckler (1984).

References

Bentler, P. M. (1968a). Heterosexual behavior assessment-I. Males. Behavior Research and Therapy, 6, 21–25.

Bentler, P. M. (1968b). Heterosexual behavior assessment-II. Females. Behavior Research and Therapy, 6, 27–29.

Cowart, D. A., & Pollack, R. H. (1979). A Guttman scale of sexual experience. Journal of Sex Education & Therapy, 1, 3–6.

Cowart-Steckler, D. (1984). A Guttman scale of sexual experience: An update. Journal of Sex Education & Therapy, 10, 49–52.

Edwards, A. L. (1957). Techniques of attitude scale construction. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

Guttman, L. (1947). The Cornell technique of scale and intensity analysis. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 7, 247–280.

Zuckerman, M. (1973). Scales for sexual experience for males and females. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology, 11, 27–29.