Alternative Approaches to the Study of Sexual Behavior

By Donn Byrne; Kathryn Kelley | Go to book overview
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Integrating Sex Research

Kathryn Kelley
State University of New York at Albany

The preceding chapters have presented a variety of approaches to the study of human sexual behavior. Using Byrne's metaphor introduced in chapter 1, the image of the elephant has been made clearer and more available to our scientific understanding through the authors' visions of the field. The utility of their approaches will, of course, depend on the ultimate criteria of scientific relevance--testability and success at prediction and explanation. With increasing professional respectability, the field of sexology will need to accept the responsibility for being scientifically accountable. Without that, even the elephant's image begins to fade, and we can retreat into our private fantasies of what a scientific understanding of sexuality could provide for us.


Among the benefits of sexological research is a potential for theoretical understanding of the wide variety of topics that are under investigation. Rather than assume that a given perspective is totally correct, we can be reminded that scientific advances rarely occur on the basis of only one perspective. They often progress by standing on the collective shoulders of previously accumulated empiricism and theory. Two points can be offered about the current state of sexology in this regard. First, integrative attempts at theorizing about sexuality now exist. These await the efforts and imaginations of both seasoned and novice sex researchers. From the conservative end of the political spectrum, the term pornology may be considered more appropriate to describe our endeavors. For


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