Navigation Links
In sex, happiness hinges on keeping up with the Joneses, CU-Boulder study finds
Date:4/15/2013

Sex apparently is like income: People are generally happy when they keep pace with the Joneses and they're even happier if they get a bit more.

That's one finding of Tim Wadsworth, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder, who recently published the results of a study of how sexual frequency corresponds with happiness.

As has been well documented with income, the happiness linked with having more sex can rise or fall depending on how individuals believe they measure up to their peers, Wadsworth found.

His paper, "Sex and the Pursuit of Happiness: How Other People's Sex Lives are Related to Our Sense of Well-Being," was published in the February edition of Social Indicators Research.

Using national survey data and statistical analyses, Wadsworth found that people reported steadily higher levels of happiness as they reported steadily higher sexual frequency. But he also found that even after controlling for their own sexual frequency, people who believed they were having less sex than their peers were unhappier than those who believed they were having as much or more than their peers.

"There's an overall increase in sense of well-being that comes with engaging in sex more frequently, but there's also this relative aspect to it," he said. "Having more sex makes us happy, but thinking that we are having more sex than other people makes us even happier."

Wadsworth analyzed data from the General Social Survey, which has been taking the "pulse of America" since 1972. All respondents in all years are asked whether they are "very happy, pretty happy or not too happy."

The survey has included questions about sexual frequency since 1989. Wadsworth's sample included 15,386 people who were surveyed between 1993 and 2006.

After controlling for many other factors, including income, education, marital status, health, age, race and other characteristics, respondents who reported having sex at least two to three times a month were 33 percent more likely to report a higher level of happiness than those who reported having no sex during the previous 12 months.

The happiness effect appears to rise with frequency. Compared to those who had no sex in the previous year, those reporting a once-weekly frequency were 44 percent more likely to report a higher level of happiness. Those reporting having sex two to three times a week are 55 percent more likely to report a higher level of happiness.

But while personal income can be inferred by a neighbor's flashy new car or home renovation, sex is a more cloistered activity. So how do, say, men or women in their 20s know how frequently their peers have sex?

Though sex is a private matter, the mass media and other sources of information provide clues. For instance, Wadsworth noted, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Men's Health, Men's Journal and The AARP Magazine with a combined circulation of 30 millionfrequently report the results of their own or others' sex surveys.

Television and film depictions might also play a role, and, Wadsworth writes, "there is plenty of evidence that information concerning normative sexual behavior is learned through discussions within peer groups and friendship networks."

As a result of this knowledge, if members of a peer group are having sex two to three times a month but believe their peers are on a once-weekly schedule, their probability of reporting a higher level of happiness falls by about 14 percent, Wadsworth found.

Wadsworth is also a research associate at CU-Boulder's Institute of Behavioral Science and his research interests include the general study of happiness.

He noted that the data do not necessarily prove that social comparisons cause the effects he observed. However, "I can't think of a better explanation for why how much sex other people are having would influence a person's happiness," he said.

The way most people engage in social comparison can be problematic, he noted. "We're usually not looking down and therefore thinking of ourselves as better off, but we're usually looking up and therefore feeling insufficient and inadequate."

On the other hand, people are social creatures and any sense of self or identity is dependent on others. In his introductory sociology classes, Wadsworth asks students to write three adjectives, any adjectives, to describe themselves.

"And then I ask them, 'Do your adjectives have any meaning whatsoever if you're alone on a desert island, in the sense that there's no one to compare yourself to?' "

Regardless of the adjective attractive, smart, funny, poor "these things are meaningful only if there's some sense of what other people are like," he said. "As such, we can only be wealthy if others are poor, or sexually active if others are inactive."


'/>"/>

Contact: Tim Wadsworth
tim.wadsworth@colorado.edu
303-735-0172
University of Colorado at Boulder
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Travel and Other Adventures Can Boost Happiness
2. Money Really Cant Buy Happiness, Study Finds
3. United Nations Adopts International Day of Happiness
4. Childhood Friendships May Be Key to Adult Happiness
5. Study finds gene that predicts happiness in women
6. New study examines how health affects happiness
7. Fidelity Investments Brings the Happiness of the Holidays to Five Educational First Steps Assisted Centers
8. Greg Reid of Napoleon Hill Foundation Makes a Special World Premier Announcement of His Latest Project (The Secret of Happiness) on the “Your Do Over” Podcast on iTunes
9. How do happiness and sadness circuits contribute to bipolar disorder?
10. People Overestimate the Happiness New Purchases Will Bring
11. Happiness increases with age, across generations
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... February 12, 2016 , ... Fixed Dose Combination ... 3:00 p.m. EST, http://www.fdanews.com/fixeddosecombination , Fixed dose combination ... garnering increased attention from all stakeholders in the development of new chemical entities. ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... CITY, California (PRWEB) , ... February 12, 2016 , ... ... announce their participation in Red Carpet Events LA GRAMMY’s Style Lounge Event. Coco Libre ... healthy way to stay hydrated before the big event. The invitation-only gifting suite, held ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... February 12, 2016 , ... Itopia, a leader ... integration of Clarity Intelligence Platform (CIP) into Cielo®, a discovery, migration and cloud ... (BI) to their small and medium business (SMB) clients. , In ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... , ... February 12, 2016 , ... AssureVest Insurance Group, ... is initiating a charity drive that will raise funds earmarked to purchase computers and ... Tayloe Elementary School. , “My school is in a low-income area and has more ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... OH (PRWEB) , ... February 12, 2016 , ... Erlanger ... of the greater Columbus, OH area. The latest campaign focuses on the fight against ... disease. Donations are now being accepted here . , Carmen is a loving ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/11/2016)... , Feb. 11, 2016 Laboratory ... used in laboratories. These may range from microscope slides ... glassware is made from borosilicate glass because of its ... on the other hand, started gaining popularity over the ... easier to replace glass with plastic in several applications ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... , Feb. 11, 2016  Governor Andrew M. Cuomo ... create 1,400 jobs throughout Western New York ... with the SUNY Polytechnic Institute, includes a major expansion ... in Buffalo , as well as ... facility in Dunkirk . The combined ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... 2016  NOIT™ Research LLC, a private, leading-edge autism ... campaign to assist needy families in obtaining one of ... between February 10, 2016 and March 31, 2016, the ... The NOIT is an auditory stimulus that plays a ... skills. Beth Shier , NOIT Research ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: