It’s that time of year when many of us begin to search frantically for the perfect holiday gift for a significant other. Despite all of the time, effort, and money we put into buying this present, though, a lot of us find that—after the holidays—it is quickly forgotten and, at best, brings only temporary happiness. You might be able to avoid that outcome this year and potentially improve your relationship at the same time by instead giving your partner a gift that promotes touch and intimacy.Read More
Research suggests that, on average, people tend to have more sex in the summer than they do in the winter; however, December is the exception to the winter sex slump. It turns out that sexual interest and activity reliably increase this month, and this is particularly true with respect to the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Check out the video below for a fascinating look at some of the many changes in our sex lives that take place in December.Read More
There's a scene in the movie Mean Girls in which high school health teacher Coach Carr gives his students a lesson in sex education. It pretty much consists of him saying: "Don't have sex, because you will get pregnant...and die!"
As much as I wish I could say Coach Carr's class bears no resemblance to how we teach kids about sex in the real world, the sad fact of the matter is that the primary message many U.S. educators are sending out about sex is to be afraid. Be very afraid. Unfortunately, it turns out that this approach to sex education is problematic on multiple levels.Read More
There are a lot of stereotypes about female sex workers, and one is that no woman would ever choose this profession voluntarily. Some people see sex work as inherently victimizing, which means that—in their view—no women could truly ever enjoy this job. But is it true? According to research on female sex workers in cultures where sex work is legal, it turns out that many women decide to become sex workers precisely because they enjoy the work.Read More
The idea that men and women are polar opposites when it comes to sex is a popular one, immortalized in bestselling books like Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus. But are the sexes really that different in their sexual wants and needs? In this lecture and workshop (co-taught with Dr. Zhana Vrangalova), we will explore the most popular stereotypes about gender and sex—such as the idea that men are “wired” for short-term flings and women for long-term relationships—and consider them in light of what the science really says. There are undoubtedly some important gender differences, but as you’ll see, it turns out that much of what we’ve been led to believe about men, women, and sex just doesn’t hold up.Read More
I’ve seen a lot of articles lately about sex robots and how they’re supposedly going to revolutionize our sex lives. A lot of these articles make the assumption that there’s a lot of demand and desire for sex robots, but is that really the case? How many people are into the idea of getting it on with a bot anyway? And are robots likely to replace a lot of human-on-human sex?Read More
When I was training to become a social psychologist, I learned that many emotions and facial expressions seem to be universal across cultures. Recently, however, researchers have begun to debate this idea, suggesting that facial expressions of emotion are not necessarily the same from one culture to the next. A new study adds an interesting development to this debate by showing cross-cultural variation in the facial expressions people associate with having an orgasm. Yep, you read that right.Read More
I surveyed more than 4,000 Americans about their sexual fantasies for my book Tell Me What You Want and I found that group sex was one of the most common things that turned people on, regardless of their gender and sexual orientation. While threesomes were the most popular form of group sex, they were just one of many kinds of group activities that people fantasized about.
In the book, I talk at length about why group sex is such a popular fantasy and what people’s general experiences are like sharing and acting on it. However, when you dig a little deeper into the data, it turns out that the way things go when people share and act on group sex fantasies differs depending upon their gender and sexual orientation. So let’s take a closer look at those results.Read More
For all of my readers celebrating Thanksgiving today, don't forget to give thanks for sex! Why? Research suggests that sex is good for us in many ways, both physically and psychologically. Below, I've pulled together a list of seven reasons to be thankful for sex today—and pretty much every other day of the year.
1. Sex is a multi-purpose activity--one that allows us to meet a wide range of needs. Believe it or not, scientists have identified at least 237 distinct reasons/motivations for having sex! Not only is sex a fun and pleasurable way to pass the time, but it's also a potential way to demonstrate love and affection and to find relief (studies have found that, among couples, having sex on one day is linked to feeling less stress the following day). As you can see, sex has the potential to do a lot for us.Read More
“Welcome to the wonderful world of ex sex. It’s hot, it’s naughty…oh yeah, and it’s a really stupid idea.” – Cosmopolitan Magazine
When a couple decides to end their relationship, the result isn’t always a clean break. There’s often some degree of contact that continues and, sometimes, that includes sex. So what exactly are the implications of maintaining a sexual relationship with a former partner? According to conventional wisdom, it’s a terrible idea (as exemplified by the above quote from Cosmo). However, conventional wisdom isn’t always right.Read More
Condoms are one of the best tools we have available for reducing the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and preventing unintended pregnancies. Unfortunately, however, they don’t provide quite as much protection as they could. This is because people make a lot of mistakes when it comes to wearing and using condoms. These mistakes include using sharp objects to open condom packages, failing to check the expiration date, and taking the condom off before sex is over.
Why are these and other condom use errors so common? There are multiple reasons, not the least of which is a lack of knowledge about proper condom use, owing in large part to poor sex education. However, a study published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections suggests at least one other important contributor: rushed condom application.Read More
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 decided to get the HPV vaccine. This vaccine didn’t hit the market until I was well into adulthood, so I didn’t have a chance to be vaccinated in my youth like most kids today (about 6 in 10 US parents are currently choosing to have their kids vaccinated against HPV). Unfortunately, I found that it was a ridiculously difficult and expensive process.
Because the recommended age for the vaccine is only up to 26—and I was older than that—my insurance company wouldn’t cover it and many providers weren’t willing to give it to me, even though I said I would pay out of pocket (long story short: I eventually got it, and you can read all about the experience here). Fortunately, things look like they’re about to get easier (and cheaper) for the over-26 crowd.Read More
I’ve been running the Sex and Psychology blog for nearly 7 (!) years at this point. When I started, I didn’t know a whole lot about blogging. I gradually picked it up over time, but it definitely took a while to find my stride. As you might imagine, I learned a lot about the dos and don’ts of blogging on sex science (and science more broadly) along the way. I’m often asked for writing advice by people who are new to this, so if you’re thinking about becoming a science blogger, here are some of the key things I’ve learned so far: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
Infidelity has long been a topic of interest to scientists who study sex and relationships. Over the years, they’ve uncovered a number of fascinating things about how common cheating is, who does it, and why. Here’s a look at ten interesting things scientists have discovered about cheating.Read More
How are men’s and women’s sexual fantasies similar? And how are they different? I surveyed 4,175 Americans about their sex fantasies as part of my book Tell Me What You Want and uncovered the answers. Below, I've put together a brief video that highlights some of the important areas of overlap, but also some of the key ways in which men’s and women’s fantasies diverge.Read More
What is it that attracts us to other people? Can you fall in love at first sight? Can computer algorithms successfully predict who will make a good match? Read on for the answers to these and several other fascinating questions about sexual attraction, according to science.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