The correlation between sex and happiness is well documented. But does one actually lead to the other? And if regular intercourse really does directly bring about happiness, how much do we need to make us happiest?
A recent study aimed to find out the most practical way: by asking volunteers to do it more.
Researchers selected 64 married couples and asked half of them to double their average rate of intercourse for 90 days. Through a daily online questionnaire, they recorded their overall mood and feelings.
According to The New York Times, this study may have backfired on the researchers.
Contrary to expectations, these couples’ happiness did not improve. In fact, they had an drop in wellbeing, with lower energy, less enthusiasm, and a decline in the quality of the sex itself. Neither men nor women felt the extra sexual activity was particularly fun.
George Loewenstein, the professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon who led the study, says they probably shouldn’t have been surprised; these couples were “having sex for a reason other than because you like and want sex”.
Research up to this point may have overlooked the most important factor linking the two: pleasurability. A happy couple will be more naturally inclined to have sex more often. The act alone is not enough.
The New York Times reminds us this is far from the first study to investigate possible links between sex and happiness. A study on 1,000 women ranked sex as the #1 activities that made them the happiest. And back in 2004, economists determined that increasing sex from once a month to once a week had the same effect on happiness as an extra $50,000 in the bank.
However, by ruling out frequency of sex for its own sake, this new research has confirmed what we knew all along: it’s not about the quantity, but the quality.
Consider it official: love is more important than sex.
Do you agree? How much is necessary? Is it about quantity or quality?