Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Some statistics on sex

Yesterday, I talked about the question "How sexual are people?"  People seem to have overarching views on this question, despite the fact that it is so poorly defined and we have no solid knowledge about it.

Okay, but we do have some knowledge after all.  We have statistics.

When I first saw statistics on sexual behavior, I thought, "That's higher than I thought, all across the board!"  And then I sort of forgot, until I saw the statistics again.  Then I thought, "I remember it being higher than I thought, but it's still higher than I remember!"  So I know for a fact that my views and impressions were/are inaccurate.  People think that as an asexual, I must think everyone else is just crazy about sex.  But as it works out, I tend to persistently think everyone is like me.

I want to show you some statistics of some North American university students, mostly age 18-19.  My questions: Do you find them surprising?  In what direction?

"Mean Age" refers to the average age of people's first experience among those who had the experience.  "Mean Liking" refers to how students felt after their first experience.  The shading of the boxes has no meaning.

These statistics come from a free preview of Sex and Youth, chapter 2.  There are 252 women, and 191 men, and I believe people with same-sex experiences were excluded from the sample.  I did not "cherry pick" these statistics to support my conclusions, I picked them because I find Bob Altemeyer's writing entertaining, and he explains his methodology well.  One of these days I should buy the book and read the whole thing.

Note that the statistics neither support nor deny the thesis, "Humans are very sexual", because they do not solve the problem of defining "very sexual."


Larry, The Barefoot Bum said...

Bob Altemeyer's book The Authoritarians is available online, and he has a good study on Atheists (with Bruce E. Hunsberger).

Aydan said...

These are fascinating statistics. You can clearly see the footprint of sexism in them (ie, differential rates of receiving oral sex) but it's really interesting that both men and women report enjoying oral sex more than intercourse.

It would be even more interesting to see something similar but outside of a heteronormative framework.

miller said...

I recommend looking at the free preview, which has even more details. For example, he shows that straight people were more likely to have sex at his house rather than her house.

The book has a chapter on homosexuality, but it's not in the free preview, and presumably involves much smaller sample sizes. AFAIK, he only includes binary gender in his studies.