What’s the source of your favorite sex fantasy? Did it emerge from a previous sexual experience? Is it from something you saw in porn or in the popular media? Or did it come from somewhere else? It turns out that our fantasies can spring from several different sources. In this post, we’ll consider what 4,175 Americans said when asked where their biggest sexual fantasy of all time came from (note that this survey formed the basis for my latest book, Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help You Improve Your Sex Life).Read More
We’ve all seen headlines before that say things like “More Sex Means More Money.” These headlines try to present the results of scientific studies in very simple and straightforward terms: if you do this, that will happen. However, what you’ll almost invariably find if you look past these claims is that they’re based on correlational data. This is a type of research in which scientists look to see how strongly two variables are statistically associated with one another. While correlational studies have the potential to be very informative and useful, the unfortunate reality is that they can’t tell us anything about whether one variable (like sex) truly causes another (like making more money).Read More
Most popular media reports touting the results of the latest sex study suffer from one of the following problems: they're either inaccurate, biased, or highly sensationalized. Unfortunately, too few readers recognize this, which means that too many end up taking what they read at face value. That's a serious problem, especially given the fact that there's already so much misinformation out there about sex as it is. Sex research literacy is therefore vital for helping readers to separate good from bad media reports--and never has this been more important than in this current era of "fake news." To that end, here are a few things to keep in mind the next time you read a popular media article about sex research.Read More
Popular media articles on adolescent sexuality usually paint a portrait of the modern American teenager as hypersexual. Among other things, these articles give the impression that teens are having sex at younger and younger ages, they’re constantly hooking up and sexting, and they’re engaging in a lot of risky sexual behavior, thanks to a diet of highly sexual movies and TV shows. By contrast, scientific research on the sex lives of adolescents suggests a very different set of conclusions. Here are 10 things you should know about the sex lives of American teenagers, according to science.Read More
When science is reported in the media, it is often horribly distorted. One of the biggest reasons for this stems from the fact that many of the journalists and bloggers reporting on science simply don’t have a very good understanding of how science in general works. But it's not just that--many of them don't even make an attempt to understand the specific studies they're writing about, with some publishing articles based upon nothing more than a quick review of an abstract or press release.
The end result is that far too many media reports about science contain nothing but bogus information. Unfortunately, this is something I see all the time when research on sex and relationships is covered.Read More
Although sex is a topic about which many of us are inherently curious, there are surprisingly few reliable sources out there for learning about it, especially sources that are grounded in scientific research instead of arbitrary notions of sexual morality. That is precisely the reason I started this blog in the first place. However, in order to get the most out of the sex research I share on this site (not to mention the research you might come across elsewhere in the media), it is vital that you first become literate in the science of sex. That is, it is important to understand and appreciate what sex research can and cannot tell us. To that end, below are six things you should keep in mind any time you sit down to read the latest write-up of sex research.Read More
Katie Couric recently ran a segment on her show entitled “How To Prevent Your Kids From Watching Porn.” The title of the segment makes the agenda clear: all pornography is damaging to kids and parents need to protect them from it. Couric brought in two experts to discuss this issue, but when one of them (Dr. David Ley, author of The Myth of Sex Addiction) dared to mention that the research examining the effects of porn on kids isn’t so black and white, Couric wasn’t having any of it. For instance, according to Ley:
“There are good research studies that show that adolescents’ use of pornography explains only 2% of the variance in their behavior in relationships, drug use, or behavior problems later on. That’s important. We are over-focusing on pornography because sex, masturbation, and pornography are ‘scary.’”Read More
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.
Numerous media reports have appeared recently suggesting that there has been an “explosion” of sexting behavior among adolescents, which is just the latest in a string of claims about the hypersexual nature of today’s youth. These reports claim that kids are increasingly taking and sharing nude photos of themselves with their smartphones, webcams, and applications like Snapchat, which allows users to upload photos that are only visible to other users for 10 seconds (unless, of course, another user takes a screenshot on their end). But just how common is this behavior? Is it actually becoming normative for kids to share naked photos online? A new study published in the journal Pediatrics suggests that while adolescent sexting is indeed a problematic behavior on multiple levels, it isn’t nearly as common as we’ve been led to believe.Read More