New research from Finland suggests interest in BDSM is surprisingly common

New research suggests that interest in BDSM (bondage, domination and sadomasochism) is quite common in Finland. The findings were published in The Sex Research Journal.

BDSM was considered deviant and pathological in the past, but attitudes towards the practices have changed in recent times. Despite this change in mentality, the prevalence of BDSM in several European countries is still unknown. The authors of the new study sought to examine the prevalence of BDSM interest and BDSM-related activities in a large, population-based sample of Finnish adults.

“I had previously done my undergraduate thesis on porn addiction and internet porn, so I had some insider knowledge about sex research,” said study author Markus Paarnio, a doctoral researcher at the University of Jyväskylä. “I did my master’s thesis on BDSM, which was converted into this research paper. BDSM has not been much researched yet, although there has been a huge increase in research lately. That alone made this topic very attractive, because our dataset was so large and unique that this research has added valuable knowledge to this field.”

For their study, the researchers analyzed data from 8,137 Finnish individuals who participated in the Genetics of Sexuality and Aggression (GSA) project, a longitudinal study of twins and their siblings. As part of the study, participants were asked a variety of questions about BDSM. They also completed personality trait assessments.

Paarnio found that 37% of women and 23% of men indicated that they had been sexually dominated at least one or more times, while 25% of women and 32% of men indicated that they had sexually dominated their partner at least one or more times. dominated. In addition, 38% of women and 36% of men reported an interest in BDSM.

“People may think it’s a very niche group,” but the findings highlight the “surprising general interest in BDSM,” Paarnio told PsyPost.

The researchers also found that both men and women interested in BDSM tended to score higher on measures of openness to experience, but lower on measures of honesty, humility and conscientiousness. In women, interest in BDSM was also associated with decreased friendliness. But the effect sizes of these relationships “were negligible at best and thus offered no real practical implications.”

“It seems that the personalities of people who are interested in BDSM are no different from those who are not,” Paarnio said.

Non-heterosexual individuals were also found to be more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to practice BDSM and show interest. “There are, to our knowledge, no current theories discussing why non-heterosexual individuals are so well represented in the BDSM community and why their practice and interest rates are higher than those of heterosexual individuals,” the researchers wrote in their study. “One speculative hypothesis could be that having a minority sexual orientation and being part of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community can influence one to be more open and express their sexuality in general. to investigate.”

Younger individuals also reported more likely to be interested in BDSM.

But some key variables were not included in the dataset. “We didn’t have the educational level of our participants, which is unfortunate because it has been included in many studies before and it would have been interesting to know if the previous results would have been replicated with our sample,” Paarnio said. “Previous studies point to the fact that BDSM practitioners tend to be better trained than non-practitioners.”

Despite the new findings, Paarnio noted that scientists still have a lot to learn about the psychology of BDSM.

“Future research should look at prevalence in different countries,” explains the researcher. “The field would also benefit from a validated BDSM questionnaire as it is now sometimes difficult to compare studies because there are different definitions and classifications. Also important is understanding the underlying psychometric structure behind BDSM, as it is not known whether BDSM interest and behavior is a factor in itself or a factor of paraphilic interests.”

The study, “The Prevalence of BDSM in Finland and the Association between BDSM Interest and Personality Traits,” was written by Markus Paarnio, Nils Sandman, Marianne Källström, Ada Johansson and Patrick Jern.

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