5 Things Americans’ Google Searches Have Taught Us About Sex

5 Things Americans’ Google Searches Have Taught Us About Sex

In the last few years, Google Trends has become a favored research tools of sex scientists. Because not everyone is willing to participate in sex studies for various reasons, Google searches offer a handy means of looking at what a broader swath of the population thinks about sex. The appeal doesn’t stop there, though.

We also know that people don’t always answer survey questions honestly (even when they’re guaranteed anonymity) due to fear, shame, and embarrassment. For instance, some people may not honestly report their turn-ons because they’re embarrassed, while others might lie about how many people they’ve had sex with in order to look good to the researcher (some might overreport, while others might underreport). When people go to Google, however, they have a powerful incentive to tell the truth: if they don’t, they won’t find what they’re looking for.

Google searches are therefore thought to be very revealing because they can give us a glimpse into the things that people might not otherwise be willing to share. Several research papers have been published recently that explore the contents of Americans’ Google search histories. Here are five of the most fascinating things we’ve learned so far from this unique research tool.

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5 Fascinating Things Americans’ Google Searches Have Taught Us About Sex

5 Fascinating Things Americans’ Google Searches Have Taught Us About Sex

Google Trends has quickly become one of the favorite research tools of sex scientists. Why? In part, because not everyone is willing to participate in sex studies and, among those who are, we know they don’t always answer survey questions honestly. For instance, some people won’t report what actually turns them on because they’re embarrassed by it. Likewise, others lie about how many people they’ve had sex with in order to make themselves look better in the eyes of others. When people go to Google, though, they have a powerful incentive to tell the truth because, otherwise, they won’t find what they’re looking for. As a result, Google searches are thought to be very revealing because they can give us a glimpse into the things that people might not be willing to share with scientists, or anyone else for that matter.

In the last few years, several research papers have been published exploring the contents of Americans’ Google search histories. In this post, we’ll take a look at five of the most fascinating things we’ve learned so far from this unique research tool.

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Progress in the Search for a Male Version of the Birth Control Pill

Progress in the Search for a Male Version of the Birth Control Pill

Scientists have been hard at work for decades trying to develop a safe, highly effective, and reversible contraceptive for men—something akin to the birth control pill that has been available to American women since 1960. Thus far, nothing they’ve tested has been remotely ready for prime time. However, a new study just published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism suggests that they may be nearing a breakthrough.

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How Are “Wet Dreams” Related To Men’s Waking Sexual Behavior?

How Are “Wet Dreams” Related To Men’s Waking Sexual Behavior?

A male reader submitted the following question:

“Are wet dreams a sign that you aren’t ejaculating very much when you’re awake?”

Thanks for this very interesting question! So-called “wet dreams”—known among sex researchers as nocturnal emissions—are indeed related to men’s sexual behaviors during waking hours.

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Study: Female Strippers Earn More Tips When They're Ovulating

Study: Female Strippers Earn More Tips When They're Ovulating

Scientists have accumulated a substantial body of research revealing that women's mating preferences and behaviors appear to change in various ways when they are ovulating. For instance, during ovulation, women fantasize about sex more often, they are more likely to wear red or pink clothing, and they are more flirty with "bad boys." The theory uniting all of these effects argues that women have evolved to behave in ways that increase their odds of reproductive success when they are at peak fertility. 

One of the most well-known and frequently cited pieces of evidence supporting this idea is a titillating study (pun intended) of professional female lap dancers in which scientists examined the amount of money these women made in tips during different phases of the menstrual cycle [1].  Eighteen dancers participated in the study and recorded information about their work shifts and earnings over the course of a 60-day online study.

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Are Men Evolutionarily Wired To Stay Away From Their Friends’ Wives?

Research has found that when heterosexual men are around an attractive woman, they experience a natural increase in testosterone and, sometimes, become more prone to engaging in physically risky behaviors. For instance, one study found that when male skateboarders performed in front of a female observer, they experienced elevated testosterone levels and attempted more dangerous stunts that increased their likelihood of crashing.1 Scientists theorize that this spike in testosterone leads men to engage in sexual displays that "demonstrate their value" or manliness. So does this happen every time heterosexual men are in the presence of the other sex? According to a new study published in Human Nature, this increase in testosterone does not occur when men interact with a woman they know is already committed to one of their friends [2].
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Why Are Guys With Deep Voices So Sexy?

Every year on Valentine’s Day, radio stations put Barry White and other deep-voiced male musicians in heavy rotation with the hope of getting their listeners “in the mood.” This is perhaps not surprising, given all of the research indicating that heterosexual women find deep voices to be a real turn-on. Not only do women typically rate men with lower-pitched voices as being more attractive than men with higher-pitched voices,1 but women also seem predisposed to pay more attention to deep voices. In fact, research finds that women actually have an easier time remembering things when they are said by a man with a low-pitched voice.2 But why is this the case? What’s so compelling and sexy about a deep voice anyway?
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Why Is Channing Tatum “The Sexiest Man Alive?”

People magazine recently named Magic Mike star Channing Tatum “The Sexiest Man Alive.” Tatum joins the ranks of Hugh Jackman, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and George Clooney, all of whom were awarded the title in previous years. So what is it that makes all of these guys so darn sexy? Evolutionary psychologists would argue that their faces and physiques indicate good genetic fitness and, therefore, would make them the ideal candidates for a one-night stand, but not necessarily a long-term relationship. Let me explain.
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What Can A Man’s Finger Length Tell You About His Penis? More Than You Might Think

Over the past decade, scientists have conducted a boatload of studies correlating finger length ratios with psychological variables. Specifically, they have focused on the ratio of the index finger (the second digit when counting from the thumb) to the ring finger (the fourth digit). Among the factors associated with this ratio are sexual orientation and romantic jealousy. A new study finds that our fingers may reveal other interesting secrets, including the size of a man’s penis.
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Have Scientists Finally Discovered “The Pill” For Men?

A few months back, I posted an article about some promising new developments in birth control for men. These included the “testicular zap,” which involves performing a specialized ultrasound on the testicles, as well as RISUG (Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance), which involves injecting a chemical compound into the vas deferens that impairs the “swimming” capability of sperm that pass through it. Despite the potential of these methods, the last thing most guys want to hear in any discussion about birth control is that their scrotums need to be zapped or sliced open, so a lot of my male readers probably weren’t too impressed with these scientific discoveries. However, you guys (and many of your lady friends as well) will be pleased to hear that scientists may have finally discovered a reversible male contraceptive that won’t require bringing sharp objects or sound waves anywhere near your genitals.
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What Is The Role Of Testosterone In Male And Female Desire For Masturbation And Sex?

Sexual scientists have long believed that testosterone plays an important role in generating sexual desire. Just consult any Human Sexuality textbook and you’ll likely find a lengthy section talking about this hormone’s role in producing both male and female sexual interest and arousal. However, recent research is challenging some of our most widely held beliefs in this area. In particular, the idea that there is a positive, linear association between testosterone and desire (i.e., that increases in testosterone necessarily correspond to increases in desire) does not seem to hold up. In addition, this hormone may have somewhat different sexual effects in men and women.
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