The Science of Sex Appeal

This is the second of three essay prompts addressing documentaries we watch in class. Remember, you are required to write two of these essays this semester.

Sexual attraction and behavior are sensitive and complex aspects of our lives, and there are many personal, social, and cultural reasons why we may feel uneasy about examining them. Evolutionary psychologists have attempted to understand the biological factors that influence these behaviors. Unfortunately, because they hypothesize that the ultimate underlying factor behind attraction and sex is reproduction (i.e., getting your genes into the next generation), many evolutionary psychologists have focused primarily on heterosexual individuals and experiences. While there are some exceptions, many theorists believe that the same underlying processes influence people of all sexual orientations, but just in different ways. Of course, this can ignore or marginalize the experience of many people.

In class, we watched a film, The Science of Sex Appeal, that examines several biological factors that shape our most intimate experiences with others. Now that you have watched the film, please consider both of the following questions: (1) How do you think that biological factors influence sexual attraction and behavior? How are our subjective feelings of attraction influenced by objective biological factors? (2) How has this approach and research ignored the experience of people who do not identify as heterosexual? How do you think this heterosexual bias may have limited our understanding of human sexual attraction and behavior? Use at least three examples, studies, or cases from the film to support both questions, and be sure to discuss them in detail.

This essay must be longer than one page but no longer than two pages in length. It must be typed, using a standard font no larger than 12-point, and double-spaced with one-inch margins. Your essay should include an APA-style title page, and any outside sources that you use should be correctly cited. Remember, this is a college-level essay: Be sure to include a thesis in your first paragraph that focuses your essay and describes what you will discuss. Please use appropriate academic language. Your grade on this essay will be determined by the extent to which you fully respond to the prompt and satisfy the requirements above, as well as the overall organization and quality of your work. This assignment is worth 30 points toward your final grade.

Student Name

Component Your Score
1) Thesis and Focus (5 points possible)
Thesis is clear and specific; essay is focused and organized = 5 points
Minor issues with thesis clarity/specificity OR essay focus/organization = 4 points
Lack of clarity/specificity of thesis AND/OR essay lacks focus/organization = 3 or 2 points Lack of clear, specific thesis AND coherent focus/organization of essay = 1 point
2) Content: Biological Factors That Influence Attraction (5 points possible)
Excellent: Thorough, detailed discussion of these factors = 5 points
Good: Adequate discussion of these factors; needs more depth or detail = 4 points Subpar: Discussion is brief and/or superficial, lacks adequate detail = 3 or 2 points
Poor: Discussion is perfunctory, demonstrates lack of thought or effort = 1 point
3) Content: Examples and Effects of Heterosexual Bias (5 points possible)
Excellent: Thorough, detailed discussion of these effects = 5 points
Good: Adequate discussion of these effects; needs more depth or detail = 4 points Subpar: Discussion is brief and/or superficial, lacks adequate detail = 3 or 2 points Poor: Discussion is perfunctory, demonstrates lack of thought or effort = 1 point
4) Content: Analysis of Three Examples from Film (10 points possible) Excellent: Thorough, detailed analysis of three examples from film = 10 or 9 points Good: Adequate analysis of three examples; needs more depth or detail = 8 or 7 points Subpar: Only two examples provided; adequate depth and detail = 6 or 5 points
Poor: Two examples mentioned superficially OR one example discussed = 4 or 3 points
Very Poor: Only one example mentioned; discussion is superficial = 2 or 1 point Missing: No examples from film mentioned in paper = 0 points
5) Style, Mechanics, and Presentation (5 points possible)
Correctly formatted; few spelling/grammar errors; presentation is neat = 5 points Noticeable errors with formatting OR spelling/grammar OR presentation = 4 points Consistent errors with multiple components compromises readability = 3 or 2 points
Serious errors with multiple components severely compromises readability = 1 point




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