The old cliche is true – men DO think about sex more often than women – and researchers have proved it by sending students out into the world to ‘log’ what they are thinking about.
But the findings were a surprise. Men also think about sleeping, eating and other basic biological functions more than women – and any men who have spent the previous few decades worrying that they may not be ‘manly’ enough as they don’t ‘think about sex every seven seconds’ can rest easy.
The average man thinks about sex 20 times a day or less, say researchers from Ohio State University. The people who think about sex most of all tend to be… people who are comfortable with the idea of sexuality itself.
The study suggests that men tend to think about physical needs more than women do – but those needs are often more prosaic ones, such as the need for a cheese sandwich or a nap.
The study actually sent students into the field to record what they were thinking about – and the researchers found that men focused on biological needs, such as eating and sleep more frequently than women do.
And the research discredits the persistent stereotype that men think about sex every seven seconds, which would amount to more than 8,000 thoughts about sex in 16 waking hours.
In the study, the median number of young men’s thought about sex stood at almost 19 times per day.
Young women in the study reported a median of nearly 10 thoughts about sex per day.
As a group, the men also thought about food almost 18 times per day and sleep almost 11 times per day, compared to women’s median number of thoughts about eating and sleep, at nearly 15 times and about 8 1/2 times, respectively.
The college-student participants carried a golf tally counter to track their thoughts about either eating, sleep or sex every day for a week. Each student was assigned to just one type of thought to record. Before receiving the tally counter, they had completed a number of questionnaires and were asked to estimate how often they had daily thoughts about eating, sleeping and sex.
Overall, a participant’s comfort with sexuality was the best predictor for which person would have the most frequent daily thoughts about sex.
‘If you had to know one thing about a person to best predict how often they would be thinking about sex, you’d be better off knowing how they felt about sexuality, as opposed to knowing whether they were male or female,’ said Terri Fisher, professor of psychology at Ohio State University’s Mansfield campus and lead author of the study.
‘Frequency of thinking about sex is related to variables beyond one’s biological sex.’
Correcting this stereotype about men’s sexual thoughts is important, Fisher noted.
‘It’s amazing the way people will spout off these fake statistics that men think about sex nearly constantly and so much more often than women do,’ she said.
‘When a man hears a statement like that, he might think there’s something wrong with him because he’s not spending that much time thinking about sexuality, and when women hear about this, if they spend significant time thinking about sex they might think there’s something wrong with them.’