5 Things Americans’ Google Searches Have Taught Us About Sex

5 Things Americans’ Google Searches Have Taught Us About Sex

In the last few years, Google Trends has become a favored research tools of sex scientists. Because not everyone is willing to participate in sex studies for various reasons, Google searches offer a handy means of looking at what a broader swath of the population thinks about sex. The appeal doesn’t stop there, though.

We also know that people don’t always answer survey questions honestly (even when they’re guaranteed anonymity) due to fear, shame, and embarrassment. For instance, some people may not honestly report their turn-ons because they’re embarrassed, while others might lie about how many people they’ve had sex with in order to look good to the researcher (some might overreport, while others might underreport). When people go to Google, however, they have a powerful incentive to tell the truth: if they don’t, they won’t find what they’re looking for.

Google searches are therefore thought to be very revealing because they can give us a glimpse into the things that people might not otherwise be willing to share. Several research papers have been published recently that explore the contents of Americans’ Google search histories. Here are five of the most fascinating things we’ve learned so far from this unique research tool.

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The State of Sex Education in the United States in 2019 (Infographic)

The State of Sex Education in the United States in 2019 (Infographic)

In the United States today, adolescents' experiences with sex education are anything but consistent. Believe it or not, less than half of all states even require that sex education be taught at all. In those states that mandate sex ed, the information teachers provide doesn't necessarily have to be useful and, in some states, the materials does not even have to be accurate! The status of American sex education in 2019 is poor, and this is a large part of the reason why we continue to have one of the highest rates of teen pregnancies and STIs in the industrialized world. Check out the infographic below for a closer look at just how incredibly variable sex education is throughout the nation.

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Why Different Sexual Orientations Exist (Video)

Why Different Sexual Orientations Exist (Video)

From an evolutionary standpoint, it makes sense that males of a given species tend to be attracted to females and vice versa because this will encourage frequent reproduction and survival of the species. But if that’s the case, then why do same-sex attractions exist? This is a question that has long been of interest to scientists. In the video below, Dr. Alice Dreger breaks down some of the key things we’ve learned from the research so far.

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Consensual Violence: Sex, Sports, and the Politics of Injury (Featured Book Series)

Consensual Violence: Sex, Sports, and the Politics of Injury (Featured Book Series)

In the last year, I have been approached to consult on a number of legal cases that center around disputes over whether a given sex act constituted consensual BDSM or sexual violence. This prompted me to do more extensive research into the area of BDSM and the law, which led me to a recent book titled Consensual Violence: Sex, Sports, and the Politics of Injury by Dr. Jill Weinberg, who happens to be both a sociologist and a lawyer. I decided to give it a read and I’m glad I did because it was nothing short of fascinating. 

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When Is The Right Time To Start Having Sex?

When Is The Right Time To Start Having Sex?

When you start seeing someone new, when’s the right time to begin having sex with that person? According to a non-scientific survey of OK Cupid users, people are all over the map: 28% said between 1 and 2 dates, 47% said between 3 and 5 dates, 20% said 6 or more dates, and 5% said only after getting married.  

 This pattern tells us that the “three-date rule” is something a lot of people apparently subscribe to; however, it appears to be far from universal.  

But does it actually matter when you do it?

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How You Can Tell Whether a Sex “Expert” Is Legitimate

How You Can Tell Whether a Sex “Expert” Is Legitimate

Gizmodo recently published an exposé on Daniel Sendler, someone who presented himself as a sex expert to the popular media and succeeded in getting a lot of publicity for himself over the last two years. However, as Gizmodo reports, Sendler was a “serial fabulist” who misrepresented his training and credentials.

The Sendler case got me thinking about how journalists and consumers alike can tell the real scientific experts from the fake ones. I tweeted a few thoughts on this the other day, but wanted to expand on some of them here.

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Sex and Psychology Podcast: An Interview with the Gottmans on Sex, Love, and Relationships

Sex and Psychology Podcast: An Interview with the Gottmans on Sex, Love, and Relationships

I recently sat down for an interview with two well-known relationship experts, Drs. John and Julie Gottman. The Gottmans are a married couple, and they’re both clinical psychologists. They are also the founders of The Gottman Institute, where they have been studying sex and relationships for decades. The Gottmans have published a number of influential academic papers and bestselling books, with their latest being Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love.

I cover a wide range of topics in my interview with the Gottmans, including…

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How To Get Over Your Ex, According To Science

How To Get Over Your Ex, According To Science

It can be challenging to get over a breakup. Many people find that they can’t stop thinking about their ex and that this has negative implications for their mental health, including depression and anxiety. So if you’re having trouble moving on, is there anything you can do?

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Why A Lot Of Gay Men Are Attracted To Straight Men

Why A Lot Of Gay Men Are Attracted To Straight Men

Pornhub’s annual year-in-review always offers tantalizing insights into what it is that turns people on—and last year’s review was no exception. I recently wrote about some of the top search results on the site and discussed the psychology behind them here. However, there was something else in last year’s Pornhub report that caught my eye that I thought deserved its own article: the fact that “straight guys” was the most-viewed category on Pornhub’s gay site.

What’s the deal with that? 

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10 Things You Should Know About Condoms for #NationalCondomMonth

10 Things You Should Know About Condoms for #NationalCondomMonth

The American Sexual Health Association (ASHA) recognizes February as National Condom Month. For my part in helping to increase awareness of and education about condoms, I’ve put together the following set of 10 interesting facts and statistics. To learn more about National Condom Month, check out this page created by the ASHA. 

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The Man Who Said a Vasectomy Made Him Gay

The Man Who Said a Vasectomy Made Him Gay

I spend a lot of time reading scientific journal articles as part of my job and, every now and then, I come across a paper that makes me say “WTF?” Case in point: in doing background research for a blog post about the effects of vasectomies on men’s sex lives a few weeks back, I stumbled onto a paper titled “Homosexual Behavior After Vasectomy.” It turned out to be a case report from 1980 about a man whose sexual orientation reportedly changed after he underwent a vasectomy.  

Yep—you read that right. A vasectomy supposedly made him gay. 

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Does Sex Affect Athletic Performance?

Does Sex Affect Athletic Performance?

Whenever a major sporting competition is about to occur, it’s common to see news articles about athletes who say they will be abstaining from sex until the event is over. Many athletes and coaches are worried that getting it on before a big sporting event could potentially hurt performance.

But is this concern truly warranted? Does sex really have any effect on athletic performance one way or another?

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How Being "In The Moment" Can Enhance Your Sex Life

How Being "In The Moment" Can Enhance Your Sex Life

Difficulties with sexual desire and arousal are common among women and men alike. Unfortunately, medications don’t always fix these problems, in part, because many of these issues have psychological causes, such as distraction or anxiety. When the root of the problem is psychological rather than physiological, we need to look for treatments beyond pills.

One treatment scientists have increasingly focused on is mindfulness, which is defined as “non-judgmental, present-moment awareness.”

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How Vasectomies Affect Men’s (And Women’s) Sex Lives

How Vasectomies Affect Men’s (And Women’s) Sex Lives

Vasectomies are one of the most underutilized forms of birth control, in part, because a lot of men are worried about the procedure having a number of negative effects on their sex lives. According to the American Urological Association, “many patients are concerned that vasectomy may cause changes in sexual function such as erectile dysfunction, reduced or absent orgasmic sensation, decreased ejaculate volume, reduced sexual interest, decreased genital sensation and/or diminished sexual pleasure.”

But are these concerns founded? Do guys really need to be worried about vasectomies hurting their sex lives? 

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Exercise Can Help Prevent and Treat Erectile Dysfunction

Exercise Can Help Prevent and Treat Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction or ED is one of the most common sexual difficulties experienced by men. As with most sexual difficulties, there are numerous potential causes, including some that are biological, psychological, and social. However, a growing amount of research suggests that, in many cases, ED is a function of lifestyle. Moreover, simply by getting more exercise, men may be able to reduce their risk of developing ED and resolve existing erectile problems at the same time.

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Feederism: Why Some People Are Turned On By Erotic Eating And Weight Gain

Feederism: Why Some People Are Turned On By Erotic Eating And Weight Gain

Feederism has been described as "a fat fetish focused on erotic eating, feeding, and gaining weight" [1]. There are two types of people who exist within this fetish culture: feeders and feedees. Feeders are people who get sexual pleasure from feeding other people and seeing them gain weight. By contrast, feedees are people who get sexual pleasure from being fed by others and gaining weight.

Feederism has been described in the psychological literature as a paraphilia—a term that means having an unusual or uncommon sexual interest.

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