THURSDAY, April 18 (HealthDay News) -- A hefty chunk of your happiness may depend on whether you believe you're having as much sex as your peers are, new research suggests.
The findings raise the possibility that conversations with friends about sex -- plus reading all those sexual surveys in popular magazines -- create a perception about how much sex you should be having. If you have more, the study's theory goes, you are more likely to be happier. If you have less, the reverse holds true.
However, the researcher pointed out that perceptions about sex vary, and so do reactions to it. "Obviously, we're dealing with statistical averages here," said study author Tim Wadsworth, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. "I'm sure there are lots of people who aren't having any sex, and are leading incredibly happy lives."
And it's possible, although Wadsworth discounts the idea, that some other factor better explains the differences in happiness that seem to be linked to perceptions of keeping up with everyone else in the bedroom.
The study doesn't closely track people over a period of time, nor is it based on extensive personal details about their lives. Instead, it relies entirely on surveys of English-speaking adults in the United States from 1993 to 2006. The responses of more than 15,000 people were studied.
At issue: Do people's perceptions of their happiness as judged by survey responses (happy, pretty happy, not too happy) differ, depending on whether they're having as much sex as people similar to them do?
Wadsworth said he decided to study the question because previous research has indicated that getting richer doesn't contribute as much to happiness as people might think. Instead, as people get wealthier, they simply compare themselves to a wealthier group of peers and may still feel like they don't measure up.<
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