views updated May 18 2018


Satisfaction occurs when a sexual encounter meets one's expectations, provides physical and/or emotional pleasure, relieves desire and/or tensions, or bolsters one's self-esteem. It results both from the individual's experience of positive emotions such as contentment, happiness, and ecstasy and from the interaction with a sexual partner as both a single act and as part of a long-term relationship. Satisfying sexual relationships are marked by good communication, compatibility, and care for both the relationship and one's partner. Although orgasm often is considered the ultimate sign of satisfaction, it is not the only indication because the entire sex act can be satisfying with or without orgasm. Satisfaction also is measured commonly by the frequency of sexual activity because ideally one's sexual desire matches one's opportunity for sexual activity. Whereas sex that occurs too infrequently is a source of dissatisfaction, sex that occurs too frequently can limit satisfaction.

The Interpersonal Exchange Model of Sexual Satisfaction, developed by Kelli-An Lawrance and E. Sandra Byers in 1995 measures sexual satisfaction in relationships as a balance between costs (e.g., physical discomfort, having sex when one is not in the mood, and the risk of disease or pregnancy) and rewards (e.g., feeling comfortable with one's partner, amount of fun experienced, and frequency of orgasm). This model revealed that satisfaction is marked by experiences or relationships in which rewards outweigh costs and in which both partners experience a similar balance of rewards and costs. If the overall relationship has more rewards than costs, a single sexual encounter that is cost-heavy still can be satisfying.

In the four-stage human sexual response cycle identified by William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson (1966), satisfaction is linked to the final two stages: orgasm and resolution. The first two stages, excitement and plateau, set the stage for the physical and emotional release associated with satisfaction by heightening tensions and increasing blood flow in the body, especially in the genitals. When there is orgasm, the muscles around the sexual organs contract rhythmically and the accumulated blood suddenly leaves the genitals, an action that brings a great sense of relief and pleasure. In the following stage of resolution, which sometimes is experienced as afterglow, heart rate and blood pressure return to normal. For physical satisfaction to occur, the increased blood supply must leave the genital region. If it remains, muscle pain and irritability can result.

Other physical signs of satisfaction result from hormones that are released during orgasm, such as endorphins, which are tranquilizing and painkilling, and prolactin, which indicates sexual satiety because it suppresses further sexual desire. Orgasms from intercourse produce four hundred times more prolactin than do orgasms from masturbation, indicating that sex with a partner is not only physically but also emotionally more satisfying than masturbation.

Historically, women have experienced less sexual satisfaction than have men. This difference may be the result of cultural assumptions held before the twentieth century that women's pleasure is less important than men's. However, studies from the 1980s on show that women with a college education are more satisfied with their sexual experiences than are those who are less educated. That is less true for men. Highly educated women may be more informed about their bodies and ways to achieve physical satisfaction, acting confidently in their sexual experiences without feeling shame or guilt.

see also Orgasm.


Brehm, Sharon. 2002. Intimate Relationships. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Brody, Stuart, and Tillman H. C. Krüger. 2006. "The Post-Orgasmic Prolactin Increase Following Intercourse Is Greater Than Following Masturbation and Suggests Greater Satiety." Biological Psychology 71(3): 312-315.

Lawrance, Kelli-An, and E. Sandra Byers. 1995. "Sexual Satisfaction in Long-Term Heterosexual Relationships: The Interpersonal Exchange Model of Sexual Satisfaction." Personal Relationships 2(4): 267-285.

Masters, William H., and Virginia E. Johnson. 1966. Human Sexual Response. Boston: Little, Brown.

                                         Michelle Veenstra


views updated May 11 2018

sat·is·fac·tion / ˌsatisˈfakshən/ • n. fulfillment of one's wishes, expectations, or needs, or the pleasure derived from this: he smiled with satisfaction. ∎  Law the payment of a debt or fulfillment of an obligation or claim: in full and final satisfaction of the claim. ∎  what is felt to be owed or due to one, esp. in reparation of an injustice or wrong: the work will come to a halt if the electricity and telephone people don't get satisfaction. ∎  Christian Theol. Christ's atonement for sin. ∎ hist. the opportunity to defend one's honor in a duel: I demand the satisfaction of a gentleman.PHRASES: to one's satisfaction so that one is satisfied: some amendments were made, not entirely to his satisfaction.


views updated May 14 2018

satisfaction performance by a penitent of acts enjoined by his confessor XIII; payment in full of a debt, etc.; atonement made by Jesus Christ for sin; action of gratifying to the full XIV; release from uncertainty XVI. — (O)F. — L. satisfactiō, -ōn-, f. pp. stem of satisfacere (whence, through OF. satisfier, satisfy XV), f. satis enough (cf. SAD); see -FACTION, -FY.


views updated May 14 2018


The discharge of an obligation by paying a party what is due—as on a mortgage, lien, or contract—or by paying what is awarded to a person by the judgment of a court or otherwise. An entry made on the record, by which a party in whose favor a judgment was rendered declares that she has been satisfied and paid.

The fulfillment of a gift by will, whereby the testator—one who dies leaving a will—makes an inter vivos gift, one which is made while the testator is alive to take effect while the testator is living, to the beneficiary with the intent that it be in lieu of the gift by will. Inequity, something given either in whole or in part as a substitute or equivalent for something else.


views updated Jun 11 2018

Satisfaction ★ 1988 (PG-13)

An allgirl, high school rock band play out the summer before college. The Keatons should have sent Bateman to her room for this stunt. 93m/C VHS, DVD . Justine Bateman, Trini Alvarado, Britta Phillips, Julia Roberts, Scott Coffey, Liam Neeson, Deborah Harry; D: Joan Freeman; W: Charles Purpura; M: Michel Colombier.