Sex differences, while primarily based on genetics, can be influenced by the interaction of genes with the environment. Stressful environments, or environments that have elements that deviate from the normal conditions in a negative way, causing physical or mental pressure, can have negative effects on individual development. There are two periods of intense individual development during life: the organizational period and the activational period. The organizational period occurs in the womb prior to being born, while the activational period occurs during puberty. The organizational period affects long-term development because the hormones a fetus is exposed to during the organizational period become active and lead to sex-specific development during the activational period. Any abnormalities in the prenatal environment during the organizational period can result in a fetus developing into an atypical male or female during the activational period.
Frye and Orecki (2002) examined the affect of prenatal environment of female rats on their sexual behavior later in life. Their research analyzed the behavioral inhibition of the female rats in mating (Frye and Orecki, 2002). Frye and Orecki (2002) performed tests on a control group, and a group that were prenatally stressed, and compared their behavior toward a male rat. Frye and Orecki (2002) found that prenatal stress resulted in increased behavioral inhibition of the female rats in mating situations.
This study, and the study by Frye and Orecki (2002), both examine the affect of prenatal stress on rats. Each study investigates the sexual behavior of rats that were prenatally stressed, in comparison to rats that were not prenatally stressed. Frye and Orecki (2002) focused on the affect on female rats, while this study tests the affect of prenatal stress on male rats. This study hypothesized that male rats that are prenatally stressed will have increased behavioral inhibition in mating situations, as indicated by longer latency periods and a fewer number of mounts of female rats.
The participants were eight lab rats. Four of the rats were male and four of the rats were female. Of the male rats, two were prenatally stressed, and two were not prenatally stressed. None of the females were prenatally stressed.
The participants were divided into four groups, each group consisting of one male rat and one female rat. The male rat of the group was placed in a Plexiglas cage containing the female rat for two minutes. The male rat was timed for his latency period, which was defined as the length of time between when the male was placed in the cage to time of his first mount of the female. The total number of mounts made by the male was also observed during the two-minute period.
The latency period for the non-prenatally stressed rats (M=57.5 seconds) was shorter than the latency period for the prenatally stressed rats (M=120 seconds). The mean...