How To Talk To Your Kids About Sex

How To Talk To Your Kids About Sex

As a sex educator and researcher, one of the more common questions I get asked is when and how to talk to your kids about sex. Case in point: a reader of the blog recently asked, “At what age should parents talk about sex to their children—or at what age do children need to know about sex?”

So when should you start? And what the heck do parents need to know about navigating this discussion? Here’s a brief guide to help you get started.

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Children of Lesbian Parents are More Likely to Identify as Gay or Bisexual

Children of Lesbian Parents are More Likely to Identify as Gay or Bisexual

The idea that gay parents are more likely to have gay children has long been thought to be a myth among sexual orientation researchers. For example, a review of the literature published in 1999 emphatically stated that “the incidence of homosexuality is no higher if one is raised by a gay or lesbian parent, than if one is raised by a heterosexual parent.”  However, recent research challenges this conclusion. 

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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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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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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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Can Pedophilies Change?

Can Pedophilies Change?

The mental health community has long been interested in developing treatments for persons who are attracted to prepubescent children with the goal of preventing sexual offenses. In fact, if you search for “pedophilia treatments” or “pedophile therapy” on Google Scholar, you’ll get thousands of hits.

Numerous treatment approaches have been tested, with many focusing on finding a “cure.” For example, some studies have explored use of aversion therapy, in which something unpleasant (such as a very bad smell) is paired with child stimuli with the goal of reducing pedophilic desires. Others have looked at orgasmic reconditioning, which involves thinking about or speaking aloud socially appropriate fantasies while masturbating to orgasm in an attempt to learn new fantasies that are pleasurable. 

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9 Out of the Top 10 Traits Men and Women Want In a Romantic Partner are the Same

9 Out of the Top 10 Traits Men and Women Want In a Romantic Partner are the Same

When it comes to what men and women want in a romantic partner, they’re stereotyped as wanting drastically different things. However, research suggests that they actually have a lot in common.

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The Problem With The "Born This Way" Argument (Video)

The Problem With The "Born This Way" Argument (Video)

Sexual orientation is something that many people consider to be an innate characteristic—it’s something you’re born with. This idea is popular within the LGBTQ community, and it’s something that has been used as a basis for arguing in favor of equal rights for sexual minorities. As the reasoning goes, if you’re “born this way,” then what basis is there for treating people differently based on their sexuality under the law?

There’s a problem with the “born this way” argument, though—actually, there are three problems, as Dr. Lisa Diamond explains in the TEDx video below: “First, it’s not scientifically accurate. Second, it’s not legally necessary. But third and most important, it’s actually unjust.”

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Forbidden Fruit: How Many of Us Have Fantasized About Our Partner’s Best Friend? Or Their Sibling?

Forbidden Fruit: How Many of Us Have Fantasized About Our Partner’s Best Friend? Or Their Sibling?

In studying the sex fantasies of more than 4,000 Americans for my book Tell Me What You Want, I discovered that there’s one person who’s more likely to appear in our sexual fantasies than anyone else: a current romantic partner (or, if you’re single, an ex-partner). However, our fantasies aren’t only about our partners. For example, sometimes we fantasize about “forbidden fruit”—you know, people our partners might disapprove of, like their best friend or a sibling. Or perhaps we might fantasize about people that our culture or society would consider off-limits, such as someone else who’s married. 

So just how common are these “forbidden fruit” fantasies ? And do they differ based on gender and/or sexual orientation? Here’s a look at what I found when I dug into the data: 

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Sharing and Acting on Group Sex Fantasies: Gender and Sexual Orientation Differences

Sharing and Acting on Group Sex Fantasies: Gender and Sexual Orientation Differences

I surveyed more than 4,000 Americans about their sexual fantasies for my book Tell Me What You Want and I found that group sex was one of the most common things that turned people on, regardless of their gender and sexual orientation. While threesomes were the most popular form of group sex, they were just one of many kinds of group activities that people fantasized about.

In the book, I talk at length about why group sex is such a popular fantasy and what people’s general experiences are like sharing and acting on it. However, when you dig a little deeper into the data, it turns out that the way things go when people share and act on group sex fantasies differs depending upon their gender and sexual orientation. So let’s take a closer look at those results.

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10 More of Your Burning Questions About Sex, Answered (VIDEO)

10 More of Your Burning Questions About Sex, Answered (VIDEO)

I’m answering more of YOUR questions about sex today. In the video below, I’ll review ten questions submitted by readers of Sex and Psychology and explore what science can tell us about each one. As in previous videos, these questions cover a very diverse range of topics, from how long people tend to spend on sex to the effectiveness of the “pull-out” method to how many people have shaved their pubic hair. The specific questions are listed below. Check out the video for the answers!

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What Percentage of Americans Identify as LGBT?

What Percentage of Americans Identify as LGBT?

What percentage of the United States population identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT)? A large, nationally representative survey conducted by Gallup in 2017 put the overall number at 4.5% of the U.S. population. This number is up a full percentage point from 2012, when it stood at 3.5%. This trend suggests that as the LGBT community has made more social and political gains--including nationwide marriage equality in 2015--more Americans have decided to come out.

The overall number is but one small part of the story here, however.

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The Stereotypes Gay Men and Lesbians Hold About Bisexual Persons

The Stereotypes Gay Men and Lesbians Hold About Bisexual Persons

Sexual orientation is all too commonly viewed as an either/or proposition, meaning you’re either gay or you’re straight, and nothing in between. This view is widely held, even by many people within the LGBTQ community itself, as described in a recent set of studies published in the journal Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity.

Across two studies involving a total of 288 gay and lesbian participants, researchers examined attitudes toward and stereotypes of bisexuals. Here’s a brief review of their major findings:

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Why Do So Many Conservative Men Wind Up In Sex Scandals With Other Men?

Why Do So Many Conservative Men Wind Up In Sex Scandals With Other Men?

If you follow the news closely, you've probably noticed that, month after month, reports emerge about politically or religiously conservative men who find themselves embroiled in scandals in which they were caught having sex with other men. These events routinely make the news because the men involved tend to be outspoken opponents of LGBT+ rights who are caught engaging in hypocrisy.

So why does this keep happening? Why do so many conservative leaders wind up in these situations? Social psychological research offers a few potential explanations. 

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Americans' Views on Sexual Morality are the Most Liberal on Record

Americans' Views on Sexual Morality are the Most Liberal on Record

According to the results of Gallup's 2018 Moral Issues Survey, Americans’ views on sexual morality continue to become more liberal. For the majority of issues Americans were surveyed about, Gallup actually recorded the most liberal views on record. Among the most notable changes were that more Americans than ever believe same-sex behavior, sex between unmarried adults, divorce, and having children outside of marriage are morally acceptable. However, while substantial shifts have occurred in those attitudes, Americans’ attitudes toward other sex-related issues—especially abortion and affairs—haven’t really changed much. Check out the table below for a closer look at the numbers and how they have changed in the last 17 years.

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7 Things That Predict Higher (Or Lower) Sexual Satisfaction

7 Things That Predict Higher (Or Lower) Sexual Satisfaction

Sex scientists have found that people’s sexual satisfaction seems to depend on a wide range of factors, from how often they’re having sex to the types of sexual activities they’re practicing. Here’s a brief review of some of the key factors that are linked to higher versus lower levels of sexual satisfaction.

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5 Things You Should Know About Bisexuality For LGBT Pride Month

5 Things You Should Know About Bisexuality For LGBT Pride Month

Bisexuality continues to be a widely misunderstood sexual orientation. Given that this is LGBT Pride Month, I thought it would be useful to put together an article that explores some of the key findings that scientists have uncovered about bisexuality that can speak to some of the biggest misconceptions about it. Here goes:

1.) Bisexuality is real, and it’s not the same as being gay or lesbian. A lot of people deny the existence of bisexuality and assume that everyone who identifies as bisexual is secretly gay; however, the results of several studies reveal that bisexuality involves a distinct pattern of sexual interest and arousal compared to homosexuality.

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Americans’ Support for Same-Sex Marriage is at an All-Time High

Americans’ Support for Same-Sex Marriage is at an All-Time High

Over the past decade, there has been a dramatic change in support for same-sex marriage in the United States. Consider this: in 2007, the Pew Research Center conducted a national poll, which found that just 37% of Americans were in favor, while 54% were opposed. By contrast, this year’s poll found quite the reversal: nearly two-thirds (62%) are now in favor, with 32% opposed. This all-time high comes just two years after the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. 

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10 Myths About Sexual Orientation Debunked By Science

10 Myths About Sexual Orientation Debunked By Science

In recognition of June being LGBT Pride Month, I'll be running several LGBT-themed posts on the blog over the next few weeks. To start us off, let's debunk some of the most common myths and misconceptions about sexual orientation. 

1.) Homosexuality is contagious (i.e., you can "catch the gay"). Research has failed to find support for the idea that same sex attraction is transmitted through social contact. For example, a recent, large-scale study found that same-sex attraction does not spread within adolescent peer groups. Likewise, other research has found that gay parents are no more likely to raise gay children than their heterosexual counterparts.

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