Why do humans and so many other species reproduce by having sex? If you think about it, a case could be made that asexual reproduction is faster and more efficient than sexual reproduction in a lot of ways (I mean, at the very least, reproducing asexually saves time by eliminating the need to find a willing partner). To the extent that this is true, then why did so many organisms evolve to reproduce sexually?Read More
It has become an October tradition for the media to run story after story warning parents that sex offenders are at an increased risk of committing sex crimes against children on Halloween. All of the panic stoked by these claims has prompted lawmakers across the country to begin passing laws that restrict the activities of convicted sex offenders on Halloween--such as mandatory curfews--or that require police officers to check up on sex offenders during trick-or-treat hours.
But is it true that there's a higher risk of sex crimes taking place on Halloween? And is there any evidence that laws like this actually make us safer? Let's take a look at the data.Read More
The results of Gallup's 2016 Moral Issues Survey reveal that Americans’ views on sexual morality have shifted in several important ways in the last fifteen years. Most notable are changes in the number of Americans who believe same-sex behavior, sex before marriage, and having children outside of marriage are morally acceptable. While there have been substantial shifts in those attitudes, Americans’ attitudes toward other sexual issues—particularly abortion and affairs—haven’t really changed at all. Check out the table below for a closer look at the numbers from 2001 compared to today.Read More
There are dramatic cross-cultural differences in the legal status of prostitution. These range from complete criminalization to legalized, government-regulated sex work. So which model is best? Well, that depends upon who you ask. One group of people who is almost never asked to weigh in on these laws, though, is the folks who are selling sex themselves. What laws would sex workers like to see and why?Read More
What does it mean to be "abstinent?" It depends who you ask. Sex researchers have found that there is incredible diversity among college students in terms of how they personally define the term abstinence. While students largely agree that one can be abstinent and still engage in kissing, they are pretty split over whether someone who is abstaining can still engage in activities like sexual touching and oral sex. Even more fascinating is the fact that students do not necessarily even agree on whether abstinence precludes the possibility of vaginal and anal intercourse! In fact, it appears that, for some folks, the key factor that determines whether a given behavior "counts" is whether an orgasm occurs. Check out the infographic below for a closer look at the research.Read More
When it comes to online dating, what you see isn't always what you get. As many of you have probably discovered through personal experience, people are often less than forthright when describing themselves to potential romantic prospects on the internet. As some evidence of just how widespread this kind of deception is, a recent study of online daters in New York City found that 81.3% of the people surveyed lied about at least one thing in their profiles!Read More
Did you know that Lysol and Coca-Cola used to be used as contraceptives? Or that female strippers who are taking birth control pills receive dramatically different tips than strippers who aren't on hormonal contraceptives? Read on to learn more about these and other surprising things sex researchers have discovered about contraception.
1. Before birth control pills became widely available, women sometimes turned to rather unconventional methods for preventing unwanted pregnancies.Read More
A heterosexual man’s interest in using condoms depends upon a lot of things, including his overall attitudes toward condoms, his perceived ability to use them effectively, and whether or not his partner is on the pill or using another form of birth control. Interestingly, another factor that seems to affect men’s willingness to use condoms is the perceived attractiveness of their partners. According to a new study published in the journal BMJ Open, the better-looking straight men perceive a female partner to be, the less likely they are to want to use condoms with her.Read More
When Alfred Kinsey published his pioneering research on Americans' sexual behaviors back in the 1950s, he found that a sizable number of men and women were having premarital sex and, further, that a lot of this sex was taking place in automobiles. In fact, 41% of the women he surveyed who reported having had premarital sex said they had done it in a car !
Parked cars were clearly popular places for sex back then--but what about now?Read More
Women have been using tampons to capture menstrual flow for thousands of years. In the past, tampons consisted of everything from wool to paper to plants. The modern tampon--which is made from cotton or a blend of rayon and cotton--was first patented and sold in the United States back in the 1930s, and it continues to be what most women today use.
But is there a better option than tampons?Read More
Many people think about sexual orientation in terms of just three distinct categories: straight, bisexual, and gay. Those who subscribe to this view usually don’t allow for anything in between—they expect that everyone will fit neatly into one of these three boxes.
By contrast, others have argued that sexual orientation is far more complex and is best viewed along a continuum. The idea of a sexual orientation continuum is not new and, in fact, can be traced back to Alfred Kinsey.Read More
Women’s behavior changes in several ways when they reach the most fertile part of their menstrual cycle--that is, when they ovulate. Among other things, research has found that ovulating women fantasize about sex more often and are more likely to wear red or pink clothing. Interestingly, ovulation also appears to change which kinds of men heterosexual women find most sexually attractive, such that they tend to be drawn to “manlier” men during peak fertility.
So what happens when women take birth control pills or other hormonal contraceptives that prevent ovulation?Read More
It's a common experience in the world of online dating for people to develop the impression that good-looking people are disproportionately likely to be, well, jerks. Great face, nice body, terrible personality.
So why are there so many beautiful jerks? In the video below from our friends over at ASAP Science, mathematical principles are used to show that it might not be objectively true that good-looking people are more likely to be mean.Read More
A lot of people claim to be “experts” on sex and relationships. However, as you probably know, being an “expert” isn’t an official title—anyone can claim expertise if they want to. So how can you tell whether someone who touts themselves as an expert on sex or love is likely to be legitimate and knows what they’re talking about?Read More
On average, women in the United States hit menopause at age 51. At this point, they enter what some scientists call a “post-reproductive lifespan” (or PRLS for short), during which their bodies are no longer physically capable of sexual reproduction. Compared to other species, women are not unique in having a PRLS. In fact, so many primate and non-primate species show evidence of a PRLS that it has been classified as "a general mammalian trait" . However, the thing that is unique about humans is the relative length of the female PRLS.
So why does menopause account for such a large proportion of women’s lives?Read More
In what ways have people's sex lives changed in the last twenty years? Results from the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3) offers some insight, at least in terms of how things have changed for folks in Britain. In the infographic below, data from the Natsal-3 are compared to data from earlier versions of this survey, and they suggest that British people today seem to be having sex with larger numbers of people, but they are doing it less often. Check out the infographic below for a closer look at these and other findings.Read More
On one episode of the popular television series Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw discovers that the guy she's currently seeing had dated both men and women in the past. Clearly uncomfortable with the thought of taking things any further with him, she confides to her friends: “You know, I did the ‘date a bisexual guy’ thing in college, but in the end they all ended up with men…I’m not even sure bisexuality exists. I think it’s just a layover on the way to gaytown.”
Carrie expressed a belief that a lot of folks in the real world hold, too—that all bisexual men are secretly gay and just aren’t quite ready to come out yet. This idea that all bisexual men are gays in disguise is, like Sex and the City, pure fiction (see here and here for scientific evidence that bisexuality is a distinct sexual orientation); however, it turns out that there is some truth to the idea that bisexuality sometimes serves as a transitional identity.Read More
Research suggests that most married folks have sex somewhere between a few times per month and a few times per week. Very few do it every single day. But let's imagine for a second that those people who aren't currently having daily sex tried doing it. What would happen? Would all of that extra action make them happier?Read More
The intuitive ability to determine whether or not someone is gay is known colloquially as “gaydar.” When people use their gaydar, they attempt to make inferences about someone else’s sexual interests based upon minimal information, such as the way a person dresses, walks, or talks. Gaydar has been the subject of a fair amount of controversy as of late, with some scientists arguing that it’s real and others claiming that it’s a myth. So what’s the deal—is there something to this or not?
Social psychologist Nicholas Rule pulled together all of the available research on this topic in a new paper published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior (this paper is part of a forthcoming special issue devoted to “the puzzle of sexual orientation”—for coverage of other articles in this issue, see here and here). Here are some of the key highlights from Rule’s review of the literatureRead More
Alcohol and marijuana are among the most popular drugs people use for sexual enhancement. But when it comes to their effects, how similar or different are they? A new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior offers some insight.
In this study, researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 24 young adults in New York City and asked them to compare past experiences using these substances during sex. Obviously, this is a very small sample and we should be very cautious when it comes to generalizing the results; however, the findings are still certainly informative. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the highlights:Read More