Many scientists assume people have sex for simple and straightforward reasons such as to experience sexual pleasure or to reproduce, but new research at The University of Texas at Austin reveals hundreds of varied and complex motivations that range from the spiritual to the vengeful.
After conducting one of the most comprehensive studies on why people have sex, psychology researchers David Buss and Cindy Meston uncovered 237 motivations, which appear in the August issue of Archives of Sexual Behavior.
People’s motivations ranged from the mundane (“I was bored”) to the spiritual (“I wanted to feel closer to God”) and from the altruistic (“I wanted the person to feel good about himself/herself”) to the manipulative (“I wanted to get a promotion”).
Some said they had sex to feel powerful, others to debase themselves. Some wanted to impress their friends, others to harm their enemies (“I wanted to break up a rival’s relationship”).
Buss and Meston conducted two studies. In the first, they asked more than 400 men and women to identify reasons people have sex. In the second, the researchers asked more than 1,500 undergraduate students about their experiences and attitudes.
The Texas psychologists identified four major factors and 13 sub-factors for why people have sex:
* Physical reasons such as to reduce stress (“It seemed like good exercise”), feel pleasure (“It’s exciting”), improve or expand experiences (“I was curious about sex”), and the physical desirability of their partner (“The person was a good dancer”).
* Goal-based reasons, including utilitarian or practical considerations (“I wanted to have a baby”), social status (“I wanted to be popular”) and revenge (“I wanted to give someone else a sexually transmitted disease”).
* Emotional reasons such as love and commitment (“I wanted to feel connected”) and expression (“I wanted to say ‘thank you’”).
* Insecurity-based reasons, including self-esteem (“I wanted the attention”), a feeling of duty or pressure (“My partner kept insisting”) and to guard a mate (“I wanted to keep my partner from straying”).
“Why people have sex is extremely important, but rarely studied,” Buss said. “Surprisingly, many scientists assume the answer is obvious, but people have different reasons for having sex, some of which are rather complex.”
Source: University of Texas at Austin
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Why An Extra Planet Can't Be Hidden Behind The Sun Or Above The South Pole
- The Daily Physics Problem - 2
- Lichen: Apparently Happy Couple Really A Threesome
- The Daily Physics Problem - 1
- The Daily Physics Problem - 3
- US Could Feed Twice As Many People - If Only Elites Eat Meat
- People Estimate Their Own Abilities Based On Others' Performance
- "I respect your anonymity but I don't think you grasped the essence of this. The question is just..."
- "Based on credible assumptions about the system, a possible theory is that some not-very-good physicist..."
- "Well, if the simple enough comments above are already too hard for you and a mile-long, I am sure..."
- "You are so clearly delusional about what an experimental physicist should know, that I don't feel..."
- "I do this mainly because people get so scared about the idea, and I had one person post to the..."