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Sex and happiness linked but not how you thought

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Does more sex make couples happier?

Research has shown people who have more sex seem to happier compared to their semi-celibate counterparts. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon are trying to understand the link between sex and happiness. A team of CMU investigators have uncovered sex and happiness may be linked, but it might not be how you thought.


Researchers for this study wondered if people who have more sex are just happier to being with, leading them to engage in sex more frequently than couples who are unhappy.Or perhaps sexual activity is linked to optimal health that leads to happiness and [a natural desire] for sex.

Making sex fun might make couples happiest

For their experiment the Carnegie Mellon team enrolled 128 married couples, age 35-65. Only one group was asked to double their sexual frequency. The researchers then observed the couples' happiness level over a three-month period.

The finding, published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, found frequent sex did not make couples happier, but instead led to less desire and enjoyment of sex.

Online surveys were used over the study period and compared to baseline to measure happiness levels, sexual frequency and overall health behaviors.

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More sex reportedly made couples slightly less happy, but not from having sex more often. The researchers report initiating sex without being asked is more satisfying.

George Loewenstein, the study's lead investigator and the Herbert A. Simon University Professor of Economics and Psychology in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences says, "Perhaps couples changed the story they told themselves about why they were having sex, from an activity voluntarily engaged in to one that was part of a research study."

Loewenstein adds if they could do the study over again they would encourage activities that put couples in a sexy frame of mind rather than directing couples to just have more sex. Examples include hotel rooms, Egyptian cotton sheets or getting a baby sitter.

Tamar Krishnamurti, a research scientist in CMU's Department of Engineering and Public Policy who helped design the study said the finding could help couples improve their sex life and their happiness levels. Giving your sex life and your happiness level a boost might be better accomplished by finding ways to make sex fun as opposed to just having more sex.


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