A detailed study carried out by Tim Wadsworth, associate professor of sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder, discovered that when it comes to sex, people tend to be happier when they are keeping up with the Joneses – or even happier if they are outdoing their neighbors in the bedroom!
Wadsworth study entitled, “Sex and the Pursuit of Happiness: How Other People’s Sex Lives are Related to Our Sense of Well-Being,” analyzes the ways in which sexual frequency correlated with happiness.His findings seemed to suggest that as with income, the levels of happiness we experience from our sex lives can rise or fall dependent on how we feel we are measuring up to our peers. He said; “There’s an overall increase in sense of well-being that comes with engaging in sex more frequently, but there’s also this relative aspect to it…Having more sex makes us happy, but thinking that we are having more sex than other people makes us even happier.”
Wadsworth’s study was published in the February edition of Social Indictors Research and was an analysis of data from the General Social Survey which had been recorded since 1972. From 1989, the survey has included questions about sexual frequency and Wadsworth sample included 15,386 people who were surveyed between the years 1993 and 2006.
After controlling for other factors like income, health, education and age etc respondents who said they had sex 2-3 times a month were 33% more likely to report a higher happiness level than those who said that they had had no sex in the previous 12 months. The study also found that the happiness levels rose with frequency as people who said they had sex once a week were 44% more likely to report higher levels of happiness. Those who claimed to have sex twice a week were 55% more likely.
While it may be easier to compare incomes with our peers (their flashy cars or their designer clothes are clear to see) than sex lives for example, Wadsworth writes; “there is plenty of evidence that information concerning normative sexual behavior is learned through discussions within peer groups and friendship networks.”
Because of this, if someone within a peer group has sex 2-3 times a month, but their friends have sex weekly, they are approximately 14% less likely to report a higher happiness level.
Wadsworth did say that the data did not necessarily prove that social comparisons caused the effects that he noticed, however he did say; “I can’t think of a better explanation for why how much sex other people are having would influence a person’s happiness.”
He also notes that the way in which people interact in social comparison can be a problem. He said; “We’re usually not looking down and therefore thinking of ourselves as better off, but we’re usually looking up and therefore feeling insufficient and inadequate.”
So I guess what he’s saying is if you are not getting laid, you need to change your friendship circle so that you only associate with people who are also not getting laid. Then your lack of sex life won’t bother you quite so much.