Many psychologists believe that our personalities consist of five underlying traits: openness to experience (your willingness to try new things), conscientiousness (how detail oriented and organized you are), extraversion (how outgoing and sociable you are), agreeableness (how much care and concern you have for other people), and neuroticism (how well you deal with stress and how emotionally stable you are). Scientists have studied how each of these traits is related to people’s sexual attitudes and behaviors (and you can read all about that here), but some new research suggests that one of these traits in particular might be especially important when it comes to our sex lives: conscientiousness.Read More
A few years ago, I came across some research reporting that the way a child is born appears to have consequences for their health. How so? Scientists believe that the bacterial composition of a woman’s vagina changes during pregnancy in order to allow certain bacteria to coat the child as it passes through the birth canal during delivery. These bacteria are thought to promote healthy development and functioning. If a child is delivered via Caesarean section (i.e., C-section), that child does not have the benefit of being exposed to those bacteria and, as a result, could potentially experience worse health outcomes than those born vaginally. However, some doctors believe there may be a way to remedy this and boost the health of C-section babies.Read More
We tend to think of casual sex as, well, a pretty casual affair, meaning it’s just about the sex and nothing else. This view of casual sex is pervasive, even among those who study sex for a living. However, it turns out that casual sex is often about more than just a physical act of sexual gratification. For many people, there’s an important emotional component to it as well, according to a new study published in the Journal of Relationships Research.Read More
Each October, the media runs story after story warning parents about the dangers that sex offenders pose to 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 or that require police officers to check up on sex offenders during trick-or-treat hours. For example, in Tennessee, registered sex offenders must comply with a 6pm – 6am curfew each day from October 21 until November 1, during which time they must stay home but act like they aren’t there. Among other things, they must keep their porch lights off, avoid using decorations, and only answer the door for law enforcement. During this time, police go around the state and perform thousands of random checks to ensure compliance. This massive effort is known officially as “Operation Blackout.”
But is it justified? Is there really such a heightened risk of sex crimes on Halloween that we need to go to such great lengths? Let's take a look at the data.Read More
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
Some men’s penises seem to grow more than others when they change from a flaccid to erect state. In colloquial terms, men who experience a larger increase in length are often referred to as “growers”; by contrast, those who have a smaller length increase are often referred to as “showers.”
So what is the typical change in penis length from flaccid to erect—and just how many men fall into the category of grower versus shower anyway? A recent study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research offers some insight.Read More
How do you feel after sex? If you’re like most people, you’re probably pretty happy. After all, “it feels good” and “it’s fun” are among the most common reasons men and women alike report having sex in the first place. We have sex, in part, because it’s a rewarding activity that creates positive affect—it tends to make us feel pretty damn good. However, not everyone experiences sex that way.Read More
Many women find man-on-man pornography to be sexually arousing. In fact, one of the world's biggest porn sites--Pornhub--has reported that gay male porn is the second most popular category among female visitors. Many of you may be wondering what it is that draws so many women to it. A recent study published in the journal Porn Studies offers some valuable insight.Read More
Sixty-five years ago today (August 20, 1953), the media first reported on some of the major findings from Alfred Kinsey's classic book Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. As many of you know, this was the first book of its kind to really explore women's sexual attitudes and behaviors from a scientific point of view.Read More
Our sexual fantasies appear to reflect, at least in part, our personality traits and characteristics. In studying the sex fantasies of more than 4,000 Americans for my book Tell Me What You Want, I found that the Big Five personality factors of openness to experience, conscientiousness, agreeableness, extraversion, and neuroticism were all linked to the types of fantasies people reported having.
Below, I briefly describe what each of these traits is all about and how they are related to the types of things you’re more (or less) likely to fantasize about:Read More
One of the most reliable findings across studies of human sexual behavior is that heterosexual men report substantially more lifetime sexual partners on average compared to heterosexual women. In theory, the numbers reported by straight men and women should be fairly similar, right? However, we often see guys reporting partner counts that are twice as high as that of women. So why is that? How do we explain this gender difference?
A new study published in the Journal of Sex Research offers some valuable insight.Read More