May 29, 2005
Lust Strikes Both Genders Daily
Men and women have frequent thoughts of sexual desire, survey finds
Thirty-seven times per week: That's how often a young man's thoughts turn to palpable sexual desire, according to a new survey of almost 700 American adults.
Young women, on the other hand, are somewhat less carnal: their thoughts lean toward lust an average of nine times per week, the study found.
But that still translates into daily desire for both genders, according to the findings presented Friday at the American Psychological Society annual meeting, in Los Angeles.
"Virtually every participant in this study, male and female, reported having experienced sexual desire -- and they did so on a daily basis," concluded co-researchers Pamela Regan, a professor of psychology at California State University, Los Angeles, and graduate psychology student Leah Atkins.
In their study, Regan and Atkins interviewed 676 men and women, whose average age was 25, on the intensity and frequency with which they experienced sexual desire.
Almost all those interviewed -- 97.3 percent -- reported having experienced lustful feelings, with men only slightly more likely to feel sexual desire (98.8 percent) than women (95.9 percent).
In keeping with previous studies, the team found that men do think of sex more often -- close to four times more frequently -- than women. Men also rated the intensity of these lustful episodes as being slightly higher than those related to the researchers by women.
"These differences may reflect socialization processes that differentially influence men's and women's sexual attitudes and behavior," the researchers speculated. "Alternatively, they may reflect underlying biological differences between men and women."
One key biological difference could be the high levels of circulating testosterone found in males: previous work by Regan has implicated the sex hormone in stimulating desire.
Still, these findings "do not imply that men always feel desire or that women are uninterested in sex or lack sexual desire," the researchers stressed. In fact, "sex differences notwithstanding, the experience of desire may be the single most common sexual event in the lives of men and women," they said.
Many questions remain, however.
Although it's long been the subject of poetry, drama and song, sexual desire has not been a hot research topic.
"Lust clearly is deserving of much greater scientific attention than it has traditionally received," the researchers concluded.
To learn more about human sexual behavior, head to the Kinsey Institute.