For years science has told us there’s a link between sex and happiness: as in, those having it are happier than those not. But for those having it, how much is enough? And does more sex equal more happiness?
That’s what one research group set out to discover. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh ordered half of a group of test couples to double their sexual activity (with their partners, of course), while the other half was assigned with business as usual. The happiness levels of both groups were monitored over three months.
Surprisingly, the couples having more sex did not report an increase in happiness. On the contrary, those spending more time in the sack were less happy than before the study. As the report authors put it, “We found that increased frequency [of sex] does not lead to increased happiness, perhaps because it leads to a decline in wanting for, and enjoyment of, sex”.
So what are we to make of this report, which was published in the incredibly non-sexy sounding Journal of Economic Behaviour & Organization?
Professor George Loewenstein, lead researcher told Live Science, “The findings were a surprise and a disappointment; we were expecting that the people who had more sex would enjoy it a lot and would be happier, and it would be good for the relationship. Instead, we found that the group who had more sex enjoyed it less, they wanted it less and they reported lower levels of happiness”.
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Perhaps the mood-spoiler was not so much the increased sex itself but being ordered to do it.
“Whether you do something because you want to or because you are instructed to can have a huge impact on how much you enjoy it,” said Professor Loewenstein.
Previous studies have found that sex boosts happiness more than money, with the authors of the report Money, Sex, and Happiness: An Empirical Study suggesting that increasing sexual activity from once a month to once a week was the equivalent of getting a $50,000 raise in income.
The upshot of the Pittsburgh study, along with previous research linking sex and happiness, is that quality matters. Sure, it’s important to make time for sex and to fit it into your life but there’s no need to set rising targets at this stage. Instead, focus on improving the experience and making it a regular practice, like exercise. Heck, you could probably count it as exercise sometimes! If you need a push in the right direction, start here.
Do you agree that quality is better than quantity when it comes to sex?