The state of sex education is poor for American adolescents—but you probably already knew that. However, what you may not have realized is that the state of sex education for US medical students isn’t all that great, either. This is both surprising and sad, given all of the important implications (good and bad) that sex can have for our health.Read More
When I was a graduate student studying the psychology of romantic relationships, I remember learning about “the cohabitation effect” in a few of my courses. Relationship scientists coined this term to describe the increased risk of divorce that seemed to accompany living together before marriage. At the time, several studies had been published in major journals supporting this idea.
Interestingly, however, recent studies suggest that “the cohabitation effect” is a thing of the past—and may have never even existed at all.Read More
Scientists have found that sex seems to be good for us in many ways. For example, sexual activity has stress-relieving properties: when couples in a good quality relationship have sex on one day, they report feeling less stressed the next day. Moreover, having sex increases people’s sense of meaning in life and leads to a boost in positive mood states. Beyond these psychological effects, some research suggests that having frequent sex might also have benefits for your heart health.Read More
I’m answering more of YOUR questions about sex today. In the video below, I’ll review ten questions submitted by readers of Sex and Psychology and explore what science can tell us about each one. As in previous videos, these questions cover a very diverse range of topics, from how long people tend to spend on sex to the effectiveness of the “pull-out” method to how many people have shaved their pubic hair. The specific questions are listed below. Check out the video for the answers!Read More
I surveyed 4,175 Americans from all 50 states about their sexual fantasies for my book Tell Me What You Want. Participants were asked to describe their favorite sexual fantasy of all time, as well as report on how often they fantasized about hundreds of different people, places, and things. They were also asked extensive questions about their personalities, sexual histories, and demographic backgrounds. The results are a treasure trove of information about what it is that turns us on and why. Here’s a sneak peek at seven of the most fascinating things I found:Read More
Alcohol and marijuana are among the most popular substances people use to enhance their sexual experiences. But when it comes to their effects, how similar or different are these drugs? A study published this year in the Archives of Sexual Behavior offers some insight.
Researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 24 young adults in New York City and asked them to compare their past experiences using alcohol and marijuana during sex. Obviously, this is a very small sample and we must be cautious when it comes to generalizing the findings; however, the results still tell us some important things. Here’s a quick rundown of the highlights:Read More
Most people are cisgender, meaning that their gender identity corresponds with their birth sex; however, some people are transgender, meaning their gender identity and birth sex are different. Increasingly, scientists have been working to help us understand what accounts for this gender variability, and research suggests that the answers may have to do with both genetics and the brain.Read More
Psychologists and psychiatrists use the term paraphilia to refer to unusual sexual interests. In other words, a paraphilia represents a desire for an uncommon sexual object or activity. Hundreds of different paraphilias have been described at one time or another; however, there are only eight specific paraphilias listed in the current DSM: fetishism, transvestism, voyeurism, exhibitionism, frotteurism, pedophilia, masochism, and sadism.
While these interests have long been thought to be rare, little data exists regarding their prevalence in the population at large. In fact, the vast majority of the research conducted on these topics so far has been limited to clinical samples, which don’t really give us much indication as to how many people might have these interests at one time or another. However, recent research suggests that they’re far more common than previously thought.Read More
Parents have the potential to play an important role in their children’s sex education. Indeed, many of you reading this probably received a version of the “birds and bees” talk from them at some point. For some of you, this talk may have been your very first introduction to the topic of sex (even if it was a little awkward).
However, some people are more likely to receive sex education from their parents than others. A new study suggests that your odds of having the “birds and bees” talk depends on your birth order, meaning whether you were a first-born or later-born child.Read More
Relationships can take a lot of different forms, from monogamous to “monogamish” to polyamorous. Each approach has its own unique set of advantages and challenges. So how do you figure out what kind of relationship is right for you—and how do you navigate it successfully?Read More
Today, I’m answering YOUR questions about sex. I’ve put together a brief video in which I review ten questions submitted by readers of Sex and Psychology and explore what science can tell us about each one. These questions cover a very diverse range of topics, from the best sexual position for orgasm to how often people think about sex to the sexual appeal of BDSM.Read More
There’s a big assumption built into the way most people talk about sexual consent, which is that sex is exclusively a two-person activity. While it’s true that sex most often occurs in pairs, it’s definitely not the case that sex only ever involves two people. Sometimes people have threesomes or participate in orgies or other group encounters. So how does consent work when you have more than two people involved?Read More
What percentage of the United States population identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT)? A large, nationally representative survey conducted by Gallup in 2017 put the overall number at 4.5% of the U.S. population. This number is up a full percentage point from 2012, when it stood at 3.5%. This trend suggests that as the LGBT community has made more social and political gains--including nationwide marriage equality in 2015--more Americans have decided to come out.
The overall number is but one small part of the story here, however.Read More
We’ve long known that there’s a link between sex and headaches. In fact, we can trace this all the way back to Hippocrates, who is thought to be the first to point out a connection between “immoderate venery” and headaches (if, like me, you aren’t familiar with the term “venery,” I’ll save you the trouble of Googling it—it refers to “the practice or pursuit of sexual pleasure”) . However, it wasn’t until the late 1960s and early 1970s that physicians really began formally documenting this in medical case reports .Read More
About a decade ago, I came across a book entitled The Technology of Orgasm by Rachel Maines. It quickly became one of my favorites on the history of sex because it presented a fascinating and scandalous story behind how the vibrator came to be such a popular device—a story that appeared to be grounded in rigorous academic research. It turns out that there’s a major problem with this story, though: it’s not true.Read More
People have been searching for tools to enhance their sex lives for centuries. Historically, and even today, they have looked to various herbs and foods in the hope of finding an aphrodisiac that will enhance sexual desire, performance, or satisfaction. While many foods and herbs have been touted as aphrodisiacs, however, there hasn’t necessarily been a lot of evidence to back up these claims. And, in some cases, the data suggest that they might not be very effective after all.
In this post, we’ll take a look at what research says about some of the most well-known aphrodisiacs, according to a recent review of the literature published in the journal Sexual Medicine Reviews.Read More
I am pleased to announce the sixth annual SPSP Sexuality Pre-Conference! It will be held next February prior to the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Our last five pre-conferences were wildly successful and we are excited to continue building on this tradition.
The next SPSP Sexuality Pre-Conference will take place on Thursday, February 7, 2019 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. The theme will be "sexual pleasure and positivity." We selected this theme because, more often than not, sexuality research tends to adopt a risk-prevention perspective. We hope the presentations in this pre-conference will instead highlight the numerous ways that sex and sexuality enhance the human condition and benefit society.Read More
I have been studying the science of sex for the last ten years. During that time, I’ve learned a lot about what turns people on, from the vanilla to the kinky.
Just when I thought I’d heard it all, I embarked on a study of sexual desire that ultimately became the largest and most comprehensive survey of sexual fantasies ever conducted in the United States.Read More
Why should scientists study love? Because, as social psychologist Dr. Art Aron explains in the video below, it's central to our health and happiness. Dr. Aron talks not only about why love is a worthwhile area of scientific inquiry, but also how he started studying love in the first place and some of the most fascinating things he has discovered by researching this topic.Read More
I made a major career move this summer. After working ten years as a college professor, I decided it was time for something new: I left academia to become a full-time author. My reasons for this were both personal and professional.
It was a tough decision to leave the academy because there are a lot of things I love about it. So here are four things I’ll miss about being a college professor—and four things I won’t miss at all.Read More