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Do Men Really Think About Sex Every 7 Seconds?

Updated on August 6, 2015
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As a psychology major at the University of North Texas, C. E. Clark found, and continues to find psychology endlessly fascinating.

The 7-Second Belief Is Based On Myth

There is absolutely nothing to support what is apparently an urban legend – that men think about sex every 7 seconds, or even more often. No studies, no research, no anything anywhere to support that belief.

It may at times seem like men are thinking about sex almost constantly, and there are probably a few men around the world who do think about sex often, but when it comes to all men, the 7 second belief is only opinion, not fact. According to the most recent thorough study – the Kinsey report, the 7-second belief does not apply to even half of all men.

William Holden, Academy Award winning actor       April 17, 1918 - November 12, 1981
William Holden, Academy Award winning actor April 17, 1918 - November 12, 1981 | Source

The Kinsey Report

Dr. Alfred Kinsey did the most recent study on the subject of male sexuality in 1948. There were 5300 white males who participated in the study. Kinsey did research on female sexuality also, but here the main issue is male sexuality and so the subject of female sexuality will be discussed in a future hub.

According to the Kinsey Institute’s website, “Kinsey used in-depth, face-to-face interviews by highly trained interviewers. In each history a subject would be questioned on up to 521 items, depending on his . . . specific experience (the average in each case being near 300). Histories covered social and economic data, physical and physiologic data, marital histories, sexual outlets, heterosexual histories, and homosexual histories.”

The Kinsey Report included the self-reporting of a wide age range of men. Kinsey reports that 54% of men think about sex several times a day, while 43% of men think about sex only several times a week or a month, and that 4% think about sex fewer than once a month. That means nearly half of men of all ages think about sex less than once a day – a long way from every 7 seconds.

Ohio State University Report

Brian Mustanski, Ph.D., in Psychology, and Associate Professor at Northwestern University, reports in Psychology Today, that the study conducted in 2011 and led by Dr. Terri D. Fischer, professor of psychology at Ohio State University in Mansfield, Ohio and two of her students, showed that men are not all the same. Of those who participated in their study, college men ages 18 to 25, thoughts about sex occurred anywhere from 1 to 388 times a day. Results might be different, probably would be different, if a different age group of men were studied.

The Ohio State University study showed that a few men out of the 283 college age men who participated in the study thought about sex as often as 388 times a day. That is about once every 3.7 minutes -- still a long way from once every 7 seconds.

People who are comfortable with the subject of sex naturally tend to think about it more often than people who are uncomfortable with the subject of sex. People who are comfortable with the subject of sex are more likely to self-report honestly about the number of times they think about sex. This was taken into consideration with both the Kinsey Report and the Mustanski Study.

How Is “Thinking About Sex” Defined?

Then there is the question of what exactly constitutes “thinking about sex?” It seems to me that anything related to sex would count as “thinking about sex.”

A joke with the main subject being sexual in nature would require thinking about sex. Reading this hub or something similar requires thinking about sex. Some news stories are related to the subject of sex. So if one imagines that thinking about sex only includes thinking about a specific sexual activity, they would be mistaken. Lots of things are related to sex, but do not include sexual activity, or thoughts of sexual activity, as such.

There are also things that on the surface do not seem to a lot of people as being sexual in nature, yet they are sexual in nature. Beauty pageants, for example, or visiting the gynecologist for a check-up, two very different activities, and both are related to sex.

One could even go so far as saying that a man holding a door open for a woman is sexual in nature. He is being courteous first of all, but why the deferential treatment for a woman? Would a straight man jump from his comfortable seat to hold the door for another man even if that man did not have his hands/arms full and need assistance?

What about when a woman decides how she will look in a flirty feminine dress? Or a particular color of nail polish? Or a particular style of applying eye makeup? These thoughts are sexual in nature are they not? All of these activities are based in a desire to be sexually attractive, yes?

How about when a man is choosing a bright red convertible sports car? Isn’t he choosing that vehicle in part for its sexual attraction? Even thinking about whether or not to have a beard or mustache, or whether to wear glasses, can be related to sex because one will wonder if these things will appeal or deter from their sexual desirability.

So when considering how many times a man thinks about sex every day, one also needs to ponder exactly how “thinking about sex” should be defined. The point is that all thoughts about sex are not necessarily thoughts about sexual activity. Sex is included in many of the thoughts we all have every day without our realizing it.

References:

Ohio State University Study: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-sexual-continuum/201112/how-often-do-men-and-women-think-about-sex

5 Myths About Men: http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200706/five-shocking-stats-about-men-and-sex

Kinsey Reports Summary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinsey_Reports

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