How often do thoughts about sex enter your mind? If you are like most young adults – man or woman, the answer is several times a day rather than several times a minute. But maybe you’ve heard somewhere that the average man thinks about sex every 7 seconds? Although this myth is pervasive, the truth is that researchers have not had much luck in establishing this as fact, not even close.
One recent study attempted to quantify the number of thoughts and fantasies young adults have about sex using a golf tally counter, which their participants clicked when they had a related thought (Fisher, Moore, & Pettenger, 2012). And it wasn’t just sex. Participants were randomly assigned to keep track of thoughts related to sex, food, or sleep, and they tracked these thoughts every day for 7 days straight.
According to the tallies, men thought about sex 18.6 times a day (median score) and women thought about sex 9.9 times a day. In comparison, men thought about food 17.7 times (women 14.9 times) and sleep 10.7 times a day (women 8.6 times). In other words, men thought about sex, food, and sleep more than women.
In another study, researchers asked men and women to write down any sexual thoughts they had within a 7 day period. They found that men thought about sex on average less than 8 times a day while women thought about it less than 5 times (Jones & Barlow, 1990). Because taking the time to write down every sexual thought might be difficult and intrusive, the frequency of these “thoughts” might be less than expected in reality.
In general, research shows that both men and women think about sex at least several times a day. Men do in fact think about sex more than women, but maybe not to the extent that you might have thought. It is important to note that both of these studies were conducted with young adults, so perhaps the tallies would be different with an older sample. How often do you think about it?
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