4 Things I’ll Miss About Academia—And 4 Things I Won’t

4 Things I’ll Miss About Academia—And 4 Things I Won’t

I made a major career move this summer. After working ten years as a college professor, I decided it was time for something new: I left academia to become a full-time author. My reasons for this were both personal and professional. 

It was a tough decision to leave the academy because there are a lot of things I love about it. So here are four things I’ll miss about being a college professor—and four things I won’t miss at all.

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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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Sex in Parked Cars: Who Does it and Why? (Infographic)

Sex in Parked Cars: Who Does it and Why? (Infographic)

When Alfred Kinsey published his pioneering research on Americans' sexual behaviors back in the 1950s, he found that a sizable number of men and women were having premarital sex and, further, that a lot of this sex was taking place in automobiles. In fact, 41% of the women he surveyed who reported having had premarital sex said they had done it in a car [1]! 

Parked cars were clearly popular places for sex back then--but what about now?

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College Students Don’t Need To Be Protected From Sex Studies

College Students Don’t Need To Be Protected From Sex Studies

Before a scientific study is carried out, researchers usually need to receive approval from an Institutional Review Board (IRB), a body of fellow scientists who evaluate a given study’s potential risks and rewards. In the name of protecting research participants, IRBs often given studies focusing on “sensitive topics” heightened scrutiny.

Sex is often considered to be a sensitive topic, and many researchers (myself included) have encountered difficulties at one time or another in getting certain studies approved because their IRBs are concerned that students might be traumatized by certain kinds of sex questions (e.g., how would students who have been sexually victimized feel if they were asked questions about prior experiences with rape and sexual assault?).

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How Many People Have Cheated Before?

How Many People Have Cheated Before?

A reader submitted the following question:

"Just how common is cheating? What percentage of people admit that they have done it before?"

This is a surprisingly difficult question to answer because it depends upon how you define “cheating.” Specifically, are you talking only about sexual infidelity, or are you also asking about emotional infidelity? When researchers use different definitions, they can obtain wildly different results!

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Are College Students “Naturally Biased” Against Female Instructors?

Are College Students “Naturally Biased” Against Female Instructors?

A new study claiming to demonstrate bias in how college students evaluate female instructors has been making a lot of waves in the media recently. The study, published in the journal Innovative Higher Education, found that students in an online course gave lower ratings to instructors who were presented as female compared to those who were presented as male.  In response, Slate ran an article entitled “Best Way For Professors To Get Good Student Evaluations? Be Male,” in which they called the results of this study “astonishing” and concluded that “men still get bonus points for showing up male.” Likewise, Jezebel ran an article entitled “Students Give Male Instructors Better Evaluations, Says Science,” in which they claimed that this study demonstrates that “college students are naturally biased against female instructors.” But are college students in general really so hostile to the idea of being taught by women? Looking across all of the science out there on this topic, you’ll find that the story is much more complicated than these media reports let on.

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Revenge Sex and Rebound Sex: "Getting It On" To Get Over A Breakup

Revenge Sex and Rebound Sex: "Getting It On" To Get Over A Breakup

It’s a popular storyline in the movies and on TV: one of the characters gets dumped by their romantic partner and decides to cope with this unfortunate reality by having sex with someone else. In these stories, sex is sometimes portrayed as a way of restoring one’s self-esteem, which ultimately helps that person to move on with their life (i.e., “rebound sex”). Other times, however, sex is used as a post-breakup weapon—as a way to “get back at” the ex (i.e., “revenge sex”). But do people actually do these things in real life, or is this just the stuff of screenwriters’ imaginations? A new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior suggests that rebound and revenge sex are the real deal.

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Sex Question Friday: Sexting, Pheromones, and Asexuality

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week, we're talking about the frequency of sexting, the effect of pheromones on sexual attraction, and how many people are asexual.

How common is “sexting” in our generation?

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Are College Students Today Hooking Up More Than Ever?

Are College Students Today Hooking Up More Than Ever?

For the last several years, the popular media has been running story after story about college “hookup culture.” These articles argue that today’s youth are more sex-crazed than previous generations and that casual sex is largely replacing traditional dating and relationships. But is there any truth to these frequent claims?  A closer look at trends in sexual behavior reveals that college students today are no more sexually active than students were a couple of decades ago.


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How Often Do People Make Condom Use Mistakes? (Infographic)

Condoms are one of the most popular and effective methods of protection against both sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies. However, in order to provide this protection, condoms must be used consistently and correctly. So do people know how to use condoms the right way? According to a recent review of dozens of studies published in the journal Sexual Health, it looks like a lot of us could use a refresher course. Check out the infographic below for a sampling of just a few of the condom use errors uncovered in this research. For information on how to use a condom correctly, check out this helpful page from the CDC or this page from Planned Parenthood.
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Sex Question Friday: Can Too Much Weed Hurt Your Sex Life?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader who wanted to know whether substance use can lead to problems “keeping it up” during sex.

What does it mean when men in college can't stay hard during sex? If you smoke a lot of weed, does that make it more difficult to stay hard in the same way alcohol does?

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Is Your First Sexual Experience The Most Important?

According to almost every teen-centered film or television show ever produced, losing your virginity is a big deal. A really big deal. But just how important is that one sexual event when the reality is that sexually active people may have sex hundreds if not thousands of times during their entire lives? A new study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy suggests that your first sexual experience can potentially set the tone of your sex life for years to come.

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Why The Harvard “Munch” Club Is Not Actual News

Last week, the Harvard College Munch became an official student organization on campus. The goal of this group is to provide a forum for students who are interested in “kinky” sex to discuss their interests and to build a community. As soon as word of the club’s approval hit the street, the national and international news media picked it up and ran story after story about the new “sex club” at Harvard. This became such a huge media frenzy that the Munch was a top story on CNN.com all weekend, snatched headlines around the globe, and prompted heated debates on some of the biggest political talk shows. But is it really a more important point of discussion than the “fiscal cliff” or any of the actual newsworthy events going on in the world right now? No. And here’s why…
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Have Some Human Sexuality Courses Crossed The Line?

There has been a lot of controversy over college-level Human Sexuality courses lately. For instance, a student at Western Nevada College just filed a lawsuit against her school and instructor because she attended a Human Sexuality course in which students were allegedly required to masturbate, keep a sex journal, and discuss their own sexual history as part of a paper assignment. And last year, a well-known sex researcher made headlines after it was discovered that he held an event for his Human Sexuality students outside of class in which a nude woman was sexually stimulated by a motorized sex toy on stage. These are just a few examples of cases where the media has questioned whether some of these classes have simply gone too far (see here for details on a few other cases that have attracted media attention over the years). In this article, I offer my thoughts on this subject based upon my own teaching experiences.  
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Sex Surveys Pose No Harm To Student Participants

Sex Surveys Pose No Harm To Student Participants
Sex surveys have been controversial ever since the pioneering work of Alfred Kinsey in the 1940s and 50s. There has been a persistent concern that asking people questions about sex is simply too personal and is likely to make them feel distressed and uncomfortable. Although there may have been some validity to this concern several decades ago, times have changed. We now live in a world where people talk about sex more freely than ever before and sex is represented everywhere in the media. So should ethics review boards continue to scrutinize sex studies more than other types of research? A new study suggests not.
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