People are Happier When They Believe They are Having More Sex than Others

Friday, April 19, 2013
May Irwin and John Rice in first movie kiss, 1896

When it comes to having sex and being happy, it’s not enough to keep up with the Joneses—but to surpass them.


That’s the conclusion of Tim Wadsworth, an associate professor of sociology in the Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado at Boulder, who just published a new paper: “Sex and the Pursuit of Happiness: How Other People's Sex Lives are Related to Our Sense of Well-Being.”


The bottom line according to Wadsworth: More sex makes people happy, but even better is knowing that you’re having more sex than those you know.


In that sense, claims Wadsworth, sex is similar to income because of people’s habit of feeling better (or worse) about their situation depending on how much their friends or neighbors have.


Wadsworth’s report is based on his analysis of data from a survey—conducted between 1993 and 2006 by the General Social Survey—of 15,386 people, which included questions about sexual frequency over the course of 24 years.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

In Sex, Survey Finds Happiness is About Having More ... Than Your Neighbors (Newark Star-Ledger)

In Sex, Happiness Hinges on Keeping Up with the Joneses, CU-Boulder Study Finds (University of Colorado Boulder)

Sex and the Pursuit of Happiness: How Other People’s Sex Lives are Related to our Sense of Well-Being (by Tim Wadsworth, Springer) (abstract only)

Money Actually Does Buy Happiness, Says Study (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)     

Sex Strike Earns Town Promise of a Paved Road (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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