Welcome to The Science of BDSM, the web site for the Science of BDSM Research Team.

Here you can find:
We also:
The Science of BDSM Research Team is led by professor of social psychology, Dr. Brad Sagarin, and composed of academics and community members. Members of the team include graduate and undergraduate students in a variety of fields, professors of psychology, clinical psychologists, and kinky people who are interested in supporting research. The team aspires to produce and disseminate quality research on BDSM (bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, sadism/masochism), and kink related topics. 

The team seeks to understand the nature, dynamics, motivations, and effects of BDSM activities and relationships. To do so, it is committed to designing and conducting ethical studies, thoughtfully analyzing and interpreting data, and disseminating the results in as objective a manner as possible.

The team assumes that many people do BDSM for psychologically healthy reasons, and believes that de-pathologizing BDSM will help the scientific community and the BDSM community. The team anticipates that its research will yield a mix of findings, some congenial to a view of BDSM as healthy and some not, and it is dedicated to being open and transparent about all of its findings.

Before the team developed into what it is today, it first began as a series of meetings set up by Brad Sagarin and Evelyn Comber to support research assistants (including Sarah A. Hanson) in their work transcribing interviews from Evelyn’s master’s thesis. The interviews were with BDSM practitioners, and Evelyn and Brad wanted to meet periodically with the transcribers in a group to discuss what they were hearing. As the discussion of these meetings expanded beyond these interviews, other people, including Bert Cutler, started joining the team.

Bert, who previously collaborated on BDSM research with Brad, encouraged the team to move beyond discussion to presenting at BDSM/Leather conferences and conducting research. With Bert’s encouragement, the team did just that. Bert arranged the team’s first presentation at the 2011 Southwest Leather Conference (SWLC) where they presented, “The Science of SM.”

The team has since presented at other BDSM/Leather organizations and conferences including: Galleria Domain 2 in Chicago, Cleveland Leather Alliance Weekend (CLAW), the Society of Janus, the Leather Levi Weekend (LLW), Frolicon, the Master/slave Conference, Power Exchange Summit, Great Lakes Leather Alliance, and Winter Wickedness. They have also collected data for studies hosted by the Arizona Power Exchange, Edgewalkers, SWLC, LLW, Thunder in the Mountains, and Eldritch Brothers Tattoo & Piercing.

OCTOBER 9 - 11
The BDSM Research Team will be attending Kinky Kollege Homecoming. Details coming. 


Brad Sagarin
Department of Psychology
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115