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Sex Does Make Us Happy, As Long as We Believe We're Getting More than the Neighbors

Update Date: Apr 16, 2013 02:25 PM EDT

"Having more sex makes us happy, but thinking that we are having more sex than other people makes us even happier." 

So stated Tim Wadsworth - but it appears to be true. That is the finding of a recent study conducted by Tim Wadsworth from the University of Colorado, Boulder. It appears that sexual activity is a bit like keeping up with the Joneses - the more that we perceive that others have it, the more that we want it as well.

According to the Daily Camera, Wadsworth came to his conclusion by analyzing data from the General Social Survey. The study, which has been in existence since 1972, has contained questions about sexual frequency since 1989. Wadsworth's paper was based on a sample of survey participants who responded between 1993 and 2006.

He controlled for a number of factors, including age, income, education, health, marital status and race. He found that people who reported that they had sex two to three times a month were 33 percent more likely to report a higher level of happiness when compared to people who reported having no sex for the past 12 months.

That effect rises with frequency. According to the Telegraph, people who had sex once a week were 44 percent more likely than those who had no sex within the past year to report a higher level of happiness. That jumped even further for people who reported having sex two to three times a week, who were 55 percent more likely to report a higher level of happiness.

The link also goes the other way. According to the Star-Ledger, people who had sex two to three times a month were 14 percent less likely to report a higher level of happiness when they believed that their peers had sex once a week.

It may be easy to estimate the earning power of your neighbors, based on their purchases of cars, their home renovations and their nice vacations. But matters of sex tend to be more private, so how do people judge their peers? Wadsworth points out that magazines like Cosmopolitan and Men's Health publish results of sex surveys that provide indications of how often other people have sex. Movies and television can play a role as well.

The study was published in the journal Social Indicators Research.

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