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Wanting and Liking for Sex by Gender and Age Presentation by George Loewenstein Work in collaboration with Tamar Krishnamurti Department of Social and.

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Presentation on theme: "Wanting and Liking for Sex by Gender and Age Presentation by George Loewenstein Work in collaboration with Tamar Krishnamurti Department of Social and."— Presentation transcript:

1 Wanting and Liking for Sex by Gender and Age Presentation by George Loewenstein Work in collaboration with Tamar Krishnamurti Department of Social and Decision Sciences Carnegie Mellon University

2 Motivation Sex is important from a physical and emotional health perspective – Sexual frequency correlated with longevity (Davey-Smith, Frankel & Yarnell, 1997) – Associated with decreased risk of heart attack, stroke, and prostate cancer (Ebrahim et al, 2005; Leitzmann et al, 2004) – Activity that produced highest happiness among a sample of 1,000 women (Kahneman et al, 2004) – Those with no sex partners in the past year had highest levels of unhappiness in a nationally representative survey of Americans (Laumann et al, 1994) – Increasing sexual activity from 1/month to 1/week is equivalent in “happiness” to a pay raise of $50,000 (Blanchflower & Oswald, 2004)

3 Specific Focus: Sexual Wanting vs. Liking Intuitively these concepts seem similar However, several behavioral studies show liking and wanting differences with hedonic activities Recent studies even suggest liking and wanting are distinctly processed in the brain (Smith & Berridge, 2007) No work to date on the distinction between sexual liking and wanting

4 Partner-Specific Wanting Scale – When you think about your partner, how often does this result in physical sexual arousal (an erection, increased heart rate, lubrication etc.) (.844) – When you look at your partner, how often does this result in physical sexual arousal (.868) – When you have physical contact with your partner, how often does this result in physical sexual arousal (.817) – How often do you have sexual thoughts about your partner? (.760) – When you have sexual thoughts about your partner, how would you rate the intensity of those thoughts? (.834) – I get very turned on before sex with my partner, even before having any physical contact (.812) – My sexual fantasies feature my partner (.664) Internally consistent, α=.90 ; possible range 11-63

5 Partner-specific Liking Scale – Sex is fun for my partner and me (.838) – Sex with my partner is wonderful (.855) – My partner is very sensitive to my sexual needs and desires (.795) – I feel that my partner enjoys our sex life (.792) – Our sex life is very exciting (.870) – I enjoy the techniques that my partner likes or uses (.822) – My partner finds me sexually very attractive (.742) – I lose track of time when I have sex with my partner (.665) – Our sex life is monotonous * (.308) – Our sex life lacks quality * (.688) – I feel that our sex life is boring * (.741) – When I'm having sex with my partner, I imagine I'm having sex with someone else * (.370) – When we have sex it is too hurriedly completed * (.446) – During sex I get distracted by other thoughts * (.451) Internally consistent, α=.91; possible range 19-70 * items reverse coded

6 Sexual Drive (not specific to partner) – During the past month, which of the following best describes how often you have thought about sex? (.781 ) – How would you rate the intensity of those feelings? (.815) – Compared to other people of your age and gender, how would you rate the strength of your general sexual desire? (.835) – How long could you comfortably go without having sexual activity of some kind? (.772 ) – In the course of your day to day life, how often would you say the thought or sight of another person you find physically attractive, results in a physical sexual response? (.706) Internally consistent, α=.90; possible range 6-45

7 Respondent Characteristics Phase 1: n=1124; Convenience sample of Internet users recruited in various ways (e.g., NYTs link) Phase 2 (this presentation): n= 2,593 U.S. adults involved in intimate relationships. Recruited via internet recruiting firm (Survey Sampling International™) with instructions to obtain broad age distribution and even gender distribution – Age range 18-88 (mean = 47.9 years) – 54.7% male – 76.9% Caucasian; 14.6% African-American – 79.4 % married; 10.7% cohabiting; 9.8% dating

8 Background on patterns of sexual behavior

9 Once a week Once a year Once a month Frequency of sex by duration of relationship

10 Male usually Both Equally Who initiates?

11 Female usually Both equally Who controls when couple has sex? (by duration of relationship)

12 Findings: Partner-centered Wanting and Liking

13 Wanting by Age (actual range 5.9-45; mean = 25.3) Wanting Score Age in years

14 Liking with age (actual range 15-70; mean = 52.0) Age in years Liking Score

15 Wanting by duration of relationship (actual range 5.9-45; mean = 25.3) Relationship Duration in Years Wanting Score

16 Liking by duration of relationship (actual range 15-70; mean = 52.0) Liking Score Relationship Duration in Years

17 Wanting and liking related, but not the same The fewest people are in this quadrant: high in wanting but low in liking

18 Wanting-Liking (difference) by age Wanting-Liking Score (Z-score) Wanting is greater Liking is greater

19 Wanting-Liking (difference) by Duration of Relationship Wanting-Liking Score (Z-score) Wanting is greater Liking is greater

20 Some other initial findings..

21 Associations with health Mental and Physical Health measured by – The SF-12® (Ware, Kosinski, & Keller, 1996) Wellbeing measured by – Satisfaction with Life Scale (Diener et al, 1985) – Subjective Happiness Scale (Lyubomirsky & Lepper, 1999)

22 Dependent Variable mental healthphysical healthsubjective happiness satisfaction with life age-.054 n.s.-.25*-.12 n.s.-.83**** age squared.334**.061 n.s..35**.97**** male.090****.064**.03 n.s.-.054** married.030 n.s.-.03 n.s.-.003 n.s..129**** sexual frequency.019 n.s..133****.47*.047* sexual liking.29****.025 n.s..395****.384**** FR2FR2 73.9, p<.0001.17 35.7, p<.0001.09 96,2, p<.0001.20 91.4, p<.0001.20 standardized OLS regression coefficients *p<.05; **p<.01; ***p<.001; ****p<.0001 Relationship between health, happiness, demographics and sexual variables

23 Currently running first experimental study to examine causal impact of sexual frequency on health and happiness in married couples

24 Future directions Additional exploration of maintaining wanting and liking Responses of couples Keeping passion alive in long-term relationships

25 “I keep discovering new things about my partner” Wanting Score Duration in Years

26 “My partner and I try new things sexually” Wanting Score Duration in Years


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