Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Human Copulation

  • Lora E AdairEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_1890-1



Both copulation and sexual intercourse have been used to refer to penetrative, heterosexual sexual activity, that is: penile-vaginal sex. Here, however, the term “copulation” will refer to both penetrative (i.e., vaginal or anal sex) as well as nonpenetrative (e.g., oral sex) forms of intercourse that occur between same-sex and opposite-sex partners.


Defining sex is – perhaps surprisingly – the subject of significant debate and disagreement in lay as well as scientific circles. Several works have investigated the ways in which individuals define “sex” or “having had sex” and have arrived at disparate findings, depending on when these attitudes are assessed (Rosenthal 2013), the age of the respondent (Sanders et al. 2010), and even how the question is asked (Peterson and Muehlenhard 2007). This ambiguity is mirrored in the scientific community, where “copulation” and “sex” have been used to refer to exclusively...


Sexual Satisfaction Relationship Satisfaction Sexual Contact Nonhuman Animal Sexual Infidelity 
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© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lyon CollegeBatesvilleUSA