Changes in Americans' Sexual Behavior Since the 1990s

Changes in Americans' Sexual Behavior Since the 1990s

How have Americans’ sexual behaviors changed over the past quarter of a century? A recent study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior offers some insight.

In this study, researchers explored data from the General Social Survey, a nationally representative survey conducted in the United States most years. Sexual behavior isn’t the main focus of this survey, but several questions about sex are included on it, including how many partners people have ever had as well as who they have had sex with in the past year. So what did they find?

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How Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors Change as We Get Older

How Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors Change as We Get Older

Sex and aging is a topic that has been underexplored in sexuality research, given that the bulk of sex studies to date have focused on college students. However, we’ve learned more in the last few years, as online data collection and national surveys of sexual behavior have increased. 

One study of sex and aging that recently caught my attention explored how people’s sexual attitudes and behaviors change over the lifespan using data from a large and diverse sample of 1,522 adults from across the United States.

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Eight Things Science Taught Us About Sex In 2018

Eight Things Science Taught Us About Sex In 2018

2018 has been memorable for a lot of reasons—including what science taught us about sex. Here’s a quick recap of some of the most interesting things we learned about sex this year. 

1. The G-Spot probably isn’t what you think it is. 

Scientists recently published one of the largest and most thorough anatomic explorations ever of the area commonly referred to as the G-Spot.

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“Casual Sex” Isn’t All That Casual

“Casual Sex” Isn’t All That Casual

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.

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When People Cheat, Who Do They Do It With? Is It Usually A Friend Or A Stranger?

When People Cheat, Who Do They Do It With? Is It Usually A Friend Or A Stranger?

There’s a lot of research out there looking at how many people have cheated, their reasons for cheating, and what “counts” as cheating; however, surprisingly little work has looked at who people are actually having sex with when they commit infidelity. Is it usually with someone they know, or with a stranger? And does this differ for men and women? A new study published in the Journal of Family Psychology offers some answers.

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Why Are Women More Likely To Regret Casual Sex Than Men?

Why Are Women More Likely To Regret Casual Sex Than Men?

 

Several studies have found that women are more likely to have regrets about their previous experiences with casual sex than men. While men can certainly have regrets about casual sex,  they’re more likely than women to regret opportunities they passed up instead of times they actually had casual sex. So why is that? What explains this gender difference?

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Women's Most and Least Common Reasons for Having Sex

Women's Most and Least Common Reasons for Having Sex

There are a lot of different things that can motivate people to have sex. In fact, one study identified 237 distinct reasons for getting it on! But do our reasons and motivations for sex differ based on the type of relationship we're in (i.e., casual vs. committed)? Further, do our reasons for sex depend on our sexual orientation? A recent study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior sheds some light on the answers, at least for women.

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Are Sex Researchers More Sexually Active Than Everyone Else?

Are Sex Researchers More Sexually Active Than Everyone Else?

When you study sex for a living, people have a tendency to think that you really love sex—and that you must be having it all the time, too! In other words, people often assume that you’re doing “mesearch” instead of research.

But is that really the case? Are sex researchers any more sexually active than the rest of the population? Let's take a look at the data.

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Why So Many College Students Have Risky Sex on Spring Break

Why So Many College Students Have Risky Sex on Spring Break

My university, like many schools around the country, is on spring break this week. A lot of students are using this opportunity to not just take a breather from their studies, but also to travel. As I’m sure you’re well aware, spring break trips have a reputation for getting a little wild and crazy—I mean, just look at how they’re depicted in Hollywood films.

But why is that exactly? What accounts for why so many college students partake in risky behaviors—especially risky sexual behaviors—at this time of year? Let’s take a look at a recent study published in the journal Prevention Science that attempted to address this question.

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Changes in Americans' Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors Since the 1980s (Infographic)

Changes in Americans' Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors Since the 1980s (Infographic)

In what ways have the sexual attitudes and behaviors of American adults changed in the last thirty or so years? For a look at the answer, check out the infographic below, which reviews selected data from the General Social Survey, including information on number of partners, how many people have had casual sex in the last year, and attitudes toward sex outside of marriage. To learn more about other changes that have occurred in Americans' sexual attitudes, check out this article for a look at how Americans' views on sexual morality have evolved.

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The Sex Lives of Older Adults

The Sex Lives of Older Adults

A reader submitted the following question:

"How many people over age 50 are still having sex?"

Older adults are often assumed to be celibate, but the truth of the matter is that many of us remain sexually active for our entire lives.

As some evidence of this, let's consider findings from a recent, nationally representative U.S. survey of adults aged 14-94.

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Video: Is Casual Sex Unhealthy?

Video: Is Casual Sex Unhealthy?

In the popular media, casual sex is often portrayed in a negative light, with writers focusing largely on the physical and psychological risks of having it. But is this activity really so deserving of such a negative reputation? If you look at the research, what you’ll see is that casual sex isn’t an inherently bad or good thing. Instead, it turns out that casual sex is something that can affect different people in very different ways.

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Study: Men Think Women With Tattoos Are More Interested In Casual Sex

Study: Men Think Women With Tattoos Are More Interested In Casual Sex

Men appear to make judgments about women’s sexual intent based upon their physical appearance. For example, research has found that heterosexual men think women are more interested in and willing to have sex to the extent that they’re wearing red and/or revealing clothing. Psychologists believe that men have evolved to pay attention to these and other physical cues that might signal a woman’s interest in sex in order to avoid missing out on potential reproductive opportunities.

It isn’t just what women are wearing that matters, though. A recent set of studies published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior suggests that men also consider women’s tattoos to be a sign of sexual interest.

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How Much Sex Are Millennials Having? Not As Much As You Think

How Much Sex Are Millennials Having? Not As Much As You Think

Millennials are often referred to as "the hookup generation," with popular media portrayals characterizing them as constantly jumping from one hook-up to the next and rejecting traditional notions of dating and marriage. In stark contrast to these depictions, however, scientific research on millennials' sexual attitudes and behaviors paints a very different picture. Compared to generations past, millennials aren't having as much sex as you think. Also, it turns out that millennials actually hold fairly conflicted views on the morality of hooking-up. For a closer look at the research in this area, check out my latest article over at Playboy

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Is Casual Sex Bad For You?

Is Casual Sex Bad For You?

Although casual sex is something that most Americans have done before, it is a sexual activity that continues to be viewed in a largely negative light. For instance, casual sex is frequently portrayed in the popular media as risky and as a "lesser" form of sex. But is this negative reputation deserved? In this TEDx talk, Dr. Zhana Vrangalova explores what the science on casual sex has revealed, including its potential benefits and risks, men's and women's most common psychological reactions to it, and how experiences with casual sex are linked to our long-term relationship outcomes. Dr. Vrangalova's nuanced analysis reveals that casual sex can affect different people in very different ways, which means that casual sex isn't inherently a good or bad thing. Indeed, who you are, how you're doing it, and why you're doing it are critical to understanding the effects of casual sex. Check out the video below to learn more.

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A Surprising Look At Millennials' Sexual Attitudes (Infographic)

A Surprising Look At Millennials' Sexual Attitudes (Infographic)

Millennials are often portrayed in the popular media as an extremely liberal bunch when it comes to sex. The impression given is that, among other things, millennials are totally cool with homosexuality, they love their casual sex, and they're shunning the notion of marriage. However, this doesn't quite match up with the data. Believe it or not, millennials' sexual attitudes may be a little more conservative on average than you've been led to think.

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Women’s Reasons For Sex And How They Relate To Relationship Status And Sexual Orientation

Women’s Reasons For Sex And How They Relate To Relationship Status And Sexual Orientation

Previous research has found that both men and women report a wide range of reasons for having sex. In fact, as many as 237 different reasons have been identified! But how do people’s reasons and motivations for sex differ based on the type of relationship they’re in (i.e., casual vs. committed)? And are there differences in sexual motivations based on sexual orientation? A new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior offers a revealing look at how relationship type and sexual orientation are associated with women’s reasons for having sex.

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Infographic: Changes In Americans' Sexual Behavior In The Past 20 Years

Infographic: Changes In Americans' Sexual Behavior In The Past 20 Years

How have American adults' sexual attitudes and behaviors changed in the last two decades? Check out the infographic below for a look at what data from the General Social Survey has revealed. For a look at some additional ways that Americans' views on sex have changed in recent years, check out this article.

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Can Friends Who Have Sex Stay Friends?

Can Friends Who Have Sex Stay Friends?

Some of my colleagues and I have published a series of studies on friends with benefits (FWBs) over the last few years, which I have written about before on the blog (see here and here). Among the many things we have found in our research is that people get into these relationships for a range of reasons and, as a result, sometimes have wildly different expectations for what they hope will happen to their FWB in the future. For instance, some people hope that their FWB will become a romantic partner, others hope to go back to being "just friends," whereas some simply want to remain FWBs for as long as possible. These findings led us to wonder what ultimately happens to FWBs over time and how likely it is that different relationship transitions will occur. We recently completed a one-year longitudinal study of FWBs that we presented at the November 2014 meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. Below, I will summarize some of the key results from this research.

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