We have a love-hate relationship with sex research — on the one hand, we think it’s incredibly important to study how and why we do (or don’t do) what we do when the lights go out. But on the other hand — well, a lot of this research can be a little on the flimsy side. This week, sex research highlights teen sexting, work-life balance, and how to fake love.
Okay, we know it’s our bread and butter (see above…and below), but we love it when people skewer sex researchers. According to recent multiple sex surveys, it turns out that pretty much anything is better than sex.
Did you know that when someone “likes” your Facebook status — or, even better, actually comments on it — that warm fuzzy feeling you get is akin to the feeling you get from good food or good sex? Of course you knew that! Why else do you waste so many hours on social networking sites, over-sharing the minutiae of your life, and willingly sharing so much private data with massive technology companies who can then tailor advertising to you?!
Well, in case you were wondering, some nerds (sorry, scientists) at Harvard University have now confirmed this. In official lab lingo, what you’re doing is called “self-disclosure” — even when you’re just posting about what an awesome poo your toddler just took in the potty, or how much you love your snookums on your second wedding anniversary. And the more you self-disclose, and the more attention you get for it, the more your dopamine levels spike. It’s that whole pleasure and anticipation reward center in your brain — where good sex and good food are also logged.¬†The¬†research was published last month in a journal called Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
This week Conan apologizes for a trans joke but unfortunately no one apologizes for genital whitening products, Olympic gender testing, or rape as a plot device to “strengthen” female characters. And we think that everyone who ever judged open relationships as “slutty” should apologize — it turns out that “monogamous” cheaters are way more likely to forgo a condom.
Online dating’s first big weakness:¬†the overdependence on proflie browsing, since studies show that singles CANNOT get a good sense of whether they’d be compatible with a potential partner based on that person’s profile.
Online dating’s second big weakness:¬†the overheated emphasis on matching algorithms, since there is no evidence supporting the claims of sites using such algorithms — the available evidence suggests that the mathematical algorithms at matching sites are negligibly better than matching people¬†at random.
Here’s the dirty little secret of pickup artist training: it actually works (for both men and women), but it may well make you feel like shit about yourself. Maybe you don’t care. Maybe you just want the digits. But just in case you want to get laid and feel like a better person, you might be interested in the results of an academic study on the topic. A PhD student in Mainz, Germany, trained 17 men and 23 women in the pickup and flirtation arts — specifically, how to apply evolutionary psychology principles to the pickup scene, how to make body language work for you (lots of touching!), and how to combat anxiety. He then sent his students into the wild, with the men instructed to gather digits and the women instructed to gather drinks invitations. The before-and-after stats showed that men went, on average, from 1.07 phone numbers to 3.67 per hour, while women’s drink-invite average went from 1.65 to 3.1.
Naturally, the experience made them all feel better about their dating skills. In addition, the men said they felt more intelligent and attractive, and the women felt more intelligent and confident. (Intelligent? Really? Or do they mean superior?) So where’s the downside, you’re wondering. Well, the men said they felt selfish afterwards, and the women felt dishonest and less responsible.
The seahorse is the only male creature — outside of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1994 movie JUNIOR — that gets knocked up, and as such has become something of a mascot to us in our line of work. Especially as women’s reproductive rights are increasingly under attack. But until someone forwarded this video to us, we had never actually seen a male seahorse give birth. It’s pretty mind-blowing and kind of, well,¬†sexual. Ejaculatory, even.
Is there any generation that doesn’t consider itself a watershed? We’re suckers for studies that prove we were born at a true turning point. Research by the¬†Institute for Public Policy Research — a¬†lefty, UK-based think tank — shows that “marrying up” is becoming a thing of the past, and the change really started with women born in the 1970s (hi!). While there has been a slight rise in the number of women who “marry down” (we prefer to think of it as a rise in the number of men seeking “aspirational marriages”), the most significant change is that more and more women are choosing to marry men of a similar social status, rather than trying to “bag a rich man,” as the classy saying goes. ¬†Sorry, Don Draper.
Amongst women born in 1958, for example, 38% married “well” — and please take those distancing quote-marks seriously! 23% married someone from a poorer background, and about a third married someone of similar status. Amongst women born in 1970, the number “marrying up” dropped by 5%, and 45% married someone of similar status. And for women born between 1976 and 1981, only 16% married a Don Draper.
A recent survey by the Boston Consulting Group asked people in the U.S. which key lifestyle habits they would be willing to give up instead of the Internet for a year. 73% would give up alcohol; 69% would give up coffee (we love how close those two figures are!); 77% would give up chocolate (really? 23% need chocolate more than they need the internet?!); 10% would give up their car; and 7% would stop showering (we’re guessing those 7% are all college guys).
But here’s the number that jumped out at us: 21% said they’d sacrifice sex for the internet. The first time we read this figure we found it depressing — just the fact that there are people out there who think this way. But then we re-read it and thought: 79% of people in the U.S. think sex is more important that the internet. And that’s kind of awesome.¬†When you think of all the online porn, all the LOL cat videos, all the Facebooking, the Tweeting, the Tumblring, the emailing, the chain-letter-forwarding, the online dating, the Netflixing, the Amazon-ing, the blogging about your kid’s first poop on the potty — add up all of that and more, and it’s still not as compelling as a roll in the hay for most people. We think that’s something to celebrate.
So… what would you give up for the Internet? What would you give up in a heartbeat — and what would you never, ever give up?