Women are more aroused by ideas of romance and foreplay than by sex, according to a study.

A Melbourne researcher has used soft and hardcore pornographic films to try to unearth exactly what turns women on.

Dr Jade Sheen, a psychologist at Deakin University, enlisted 120 women aged between 18 and 45 to watch seven-minute snippets of porn.

An overwhelming number were far more responsive to kissing and cuddling than just the act of sex.

"We suspected it and now it’s clear – it’s the romance, the sensuality that really does it for women," Dr Sheen said.