A study from the 1980s found that heterosexual men who viewed images of Playboy and Penthouse centerfolds reported less love for their romantic partners than men who saw images of abstract art . Since then, this study has been cited frequently as evidence of the damaging effects of porn. However, I’ve always had some concerns about this study and everything that has been made of it in the media, which I expressed a few years back on my blog (see here). It turns out that there’s now even more reason for skepticism in light of the fact that a group of researchers who just tried to replicate this finding couldn't.Read More
Throughout much of recorded history, female virginity is something that has been highly coveted by heterosexual men who were looking to marry. Women who were known to have lost their virginity faced stiff social penalties, including a tendency to be deemed umarriageable.
This still holds true in many parts of the world today, including a number of countries in Africa and the Middle East, where women who have lost their virginity sometimes go to great lengths to become surgically “revirginized” due to fear of social exclusion and, in some cases, physical harm (you can learn more about so-called "revirginization" procedures and the psychology behind here)
In the Western world, however, things have changed dramatically in the past few decades.Read More
What does legalized prostitution look like? For people in the United States--and other parts of the world where the sale of sex is illegal--it might be difficult to imagine. However, when you look to countries where sex work is permitted by law, you can see that there are actually several different forms it can take.Read More
In the United States and many other parts of the world, kissing is one of the most common sexual and romantic behaviors that exists; however, kissing is far from being a universal activity. In fact, researchers haven't found any evidence of kissing in a surprisingly large number of cultures around the world.
But in those cultures where kissing occurs, why is that? I mean, how did locking lips, touching tongues, and swapping spit ever become a thing in the first place?Read More
I write a weekly column for Playboy entitled Hard Science—a title that just works on so many levels. Lately, I’ve devoted several of my articles to exploring what we know about consensual nonmonogamy (CNM), not only because this is a topic people seem to be extremely curious about, but also because there are so many myths and misconceptions out there about CNM. In case you missed any of these articles, here they are:Read More
In the last few years, scientists have become increasingly interested in studying the potential effects of pornography on viewers. Several studies have been published, but many of them have yielded conflicting results. Some have found that porn use is linked to negative outcomes, others to positive outcomes, and yet others have found no effects at all. What accounts for this? It may have to do with the way that “porn use” is typically measured in research.Read More
We have a rape problem on college and university campuses throughout the United States--there is no denying or debating that. And correcting this problem should merit a lot of our time, attention, and resources. However, attempting to fix a problem like this is impossible if we don't approach it with an accurate understanding of its scope or causes. Unfortunately, it turns out that much of what we think we know about America's college rape problem is not an accurate reflection of the data.Read More
Have you ever seen the reality television show Cheaters, which seeks to expose people who are suspected of committing infidelity one person at a time? A group of internet hackers has just outdone them. Last month, they stole the personal information of all 30 million+ users of Ashley Madison (a website explicitly designed to help married people have affairs). After weeks of threatening to release the data unless the website shuts down (something Ashley Madison was not willing to do), the hackers have followed through by dumping all of the data online for the world to see. Naturally, many people are wondering what the fallout from all of this is going to be.Read More
For years, multiple orgasms are something that both scientists and laypersons alike have viewed as being unique to women, not to mention a relatively common part of the female sexual experience. Indeed, as Masters and Johnson noted in their 1966 book Human Sexual Response:
“The human female frequently is not content with one orgasmic experience during episodes of [clitoral stimulation]…Many well-adjusted women enjoy a minimum of three of four orgasmic experiences before they reach apparent satiation.” (p. 64)
As it turns out, however, multiple orgasms are not a distinctly female phenomenon after all.Read More
Imagine that you started having sex twice as often as you were right now. How do you think you would feel? Although most people would probably guess that their happiness would increase, they might not necessarily be correct. How could that be? It's just common sense that more sex = more happiness, isn't it? As it turns out, we tend to be pretty bad at this thing called affective forecasting, or predicting our future emotional states. What this means is that you won't really know how you'll feel about a given situation until you're in it.Read More
In the book A Billion Wicked Thoughts, neuroscientists Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam analyzed the contents of over a billion searches on some of the most popular porn sites. Among their many fascinating findings was that the most popular search term on Pornhub (one of the most heavily visited tube sites in the entire world) was “mom.” That’s right. Mom.
So how do we explain the appeal of the MILF?Read More
A surprising number of heterosexual married men have so-called "cuckold fantasies," meaning that they find the prospect of watching their wives have sex with other guys to be sexually arousing (the word "cuckold" literally means a man whose wife is cheating on him, hence the name). In psychological terms, these fantasies are sometimes referred to as troilism, a term some think is derived from the word “trois,” as in “ménage a trois.” In a way, this makes sense--we are talking about a threesome of sorts, just not the kind most people associate with straight men. So just how common are cuckold fantasies and why do so many guys have them? These are the questions I sought to answer in a recent article I wrote for Playboy.Read More
Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader of the site who wanted to know more about what seems to be an increasing trend among women: pubic hair removal.
Why is the shaving of pubic hair so prevalent? Why do so many people (especially women) do it? We've been "natural" for so long, it kinda seems counter-intuitive that such a large percentage of people (seemingly) aesthetically enjoy this. I mean I get that males are aroused by anatomy, and shaving could give them more anatomy to be aroused by, but they're also aroused by signs of sexual maturity and fertility. Wouldn't pubic hair be a pretty blatant sign of fertility?
In this TEDx video, Gary Wilson discusses his view on how heavy use of online porn may be affecting men’s sex lives. As Wilson points out, accessing pornography through high speed Internet is fundamentally different from how guys used to get their kicks (e.g., by reading Playboy magazine) because it provides a constant barrage of new people and new sexual activities. While I think we can all agree that this is true, the claims he makes about the problematic effects of pornography are debatable.Read More
There is a classic study in psychology which reported that heterosexual men who viewed Playboy centerfolds were less in love with their wives than men who viewed artistic paintings . Despite being conducted over two decades ago, this study is frequently cited today by politicians and the popular media as conclusive evidence that exposure to pornography is harmful to relationships. However, the results of this study are often mischaracterized and what this research really says about the effects of porn is far from definitive.Read More
"America is suffering a pandemic of harm from pornography. A wealth of research is now available demonstrating that pornography causes profound brain changes in both children and adults, resulting in widespread negative consequences…Pornography is toxic to marriages and relationships. It contributes to misogyny and violence against women."
The above quote comes from 2012 Presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s Campaign Website. He and a number of other prominent politicians have recently waged a war on porn, claiming that it is damaging to society on a number of levels. In fact, Cogresswoman Michele Bachmann has gone as far as to pledge her support for a constitutional ban on all forms of pornography in order to combat these supposed negative effects. But is there anything to all of these claims that exposure to porn is harmful? Is there really a “wealth of research” indicating that pornography causes a host of “widespread negative consequences?”