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Feature Story: Dr. Caroline Pukall 2018 Hugo G. Beigel Award

Queen’s Psychology Researchers Win Hugo G. Beigel Award

October 4, 2019
Queen's Psychology

Congratulations to Queen’s Psychology’s Dr. Caroline Pukall and former graduate students Drs. Jaclyn Cappell and Karen Blair! Drs. Blair, Cappell, and Pukall have won the 2018 Hugo G. Beigel Award for their article entitled “Not all orgasms were created equal: Differences in frequency and satisfaction of orgasm experiences by sexual activity in same-sex versus mixed-sex relationships” published in issue 6, vol 55 of the Journal of Sex Research (JSR).

The Hugo G. Beigel Award, named for the first editor of JSR, promotes and rewards research excellence in sexual science. It is granted annually to the author(s) of an outstanding research report on sexuality published in JSR by the Editor and the six Associate Editors of JSR. The article was selected as the best refereed article reporting empirical research published in the journal in 2018.

This study sought to examine which sexual activities result in the most frequent and most satisfying orgasms for men and women in same- and mixed-sex relationships. We conducted an online study of more than 800 participants who answered questions about the types of sexual activities through which they experience orgasm, and their degree of satisfaction. Key findings indicated that women in mixed-sex relationships reported sexual activity without orgasm more frequently than men and women in same-sex relationships despite the fact that women in mixed- and same-sex relationships did not differ in frequency of orgasm through solitary sexual activity. In addition, men in mixed-sex relationships reported the greatest amount of satisfaction from orgasms resulting from vaginal intercourse (compared to women in mixed- and same-sex relationships) as well as the highest frequency of orgasm resulting from vaginal intercourse. The results of this study indicate that sex differences in orgasm experiences appear to exist only for partnered sexual activity.

“It is such an honour to have won this award for our inclusive study examining the ‘orgasm gap’, which is a topic under much current discussion”, Dr. Pukall explains. “These findings highlight the need for more flexible sexual scripts and communication in order to ‘bridge the gap’ so that the frequency of satisfying partnered sexual activity can be more balanced in mixed-sex relationships. It also points out that working with a ‘set script’ for partnered sexual activity—which many mixed-sex couples do—may not benefit either partner in the relationship, and that there is a lot to learn from those who do not follow such scripts. Working with Drs. Blair and Cappell on this project represented a wonderful collaboration on a relevant, refreshing, and informative line of research.”

“One of the things I absolutely love about this article is that it grew out of a ‘side project’ during my doctoral work at Queen’s”, adds Dr. Blair. “As a PhD student in Dr. Pukall’s lab, I was given freedom to follow my interests, design my own studies, and investigate topical research questions. This publication, and award, represent the positive and creative benefits that come from a supportive doctoral research environment in which students are encouraged to conduct the type of work that will establish them as independent researchers – a must for any academic in today’s job market.”

The award will be presented at The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality’s 2019 Annual Meeting, November 7-10, 2019 in Denver, Colorado.