*Chart with stats on Thinking About Sex (click on image)
Sexual Imagery & Advertising: University of Georgia study of 3,232 full-page ads published in 1983, 1993 and 2003 from the February 2020 “Why Sex Sells…More Than Ever” article in businessnewsdaily.com
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How often do people think of sex? It seems that no one knows for sure although there are myths, such as one that men think about sex every seven seconds.1
One official study on how often people think of sex was published online2 by researchers Terri D. Fisher, Zachary T. Moore, and Mary-Jo Pittenger from the Ohio State University Psychology Department. It was titled “Sex on the Brain?: An Examination of Frequency of Sexual Cognitions as a Function of Gender, Erotophilia, and Social Desirability.”
The results of that 2011 Ohio State University study: “The average man tallied 19 sexy thoughts per day — that comes out to about once every 1.26 hours.”3 It was 10 per day for women.
The sourced articles below provide you with more information on how often people think about sex.
Footnotes: 1. “How Often Do We Think About Sex? … Results From A New Study,” kinseyconfidential.org, 1/12/2012; 2. “Sex on the Brain?: An Examination of Frequency of Sexual Cognitions as a Function of Gender, Erotophilia, and Social Desirability,” 4/19/2011; 3. “Health Myth: Do Men Really Think About Sex Every 7 Seconds?” gq.com, 3/13/2016
- How Many Times Women Think About Food, Sex, & Sleep A Day, Compared To Men
“While it’s been safe to assume that men think about sex more, the research backing this up has been scant overall. These results do point to this conclusion that men have sexual thoughts more frequently; but interesting to note is that they have more need-based cognitions overall, as evidenced by their more frequent thoughts not just of sex but also food and sleep.”
Megan Grant, bustle.com, 6/7/2017
- Health Myth: Do Men Really Think About Sex Every 7 Seconds?
“But since there’s no good way to look at people’s brains for months on end and determine exactly what they’re thinking about all day, Ohio State University recently approached the question in a different way. They armed a group of 18-to-25-year-olds with handheld tally counters and told them to track their thoughts about sex, food, and sleep. The results: The average man tallied 19 sexy thoughts per day—that comes out to about once every 1.26 hours. To compare that with other thoughts on the average mind, men counted thinking about food 18 times and sleeping 11 times per day. Sex wasn’t even the top craving for women, who reported thinking about sex 10 times, food 15 times, and sleep 8.5 times a day.”
The Editors of Details, gq.com, 3/13/2016
- Here’s Why She Won’t Have Sex With You
“You’ve probably heard the claim that men think about sex every seven seconds. While that frequency (more than 500 times per hour) seems extremely high, there’s no denying that guys have sex on their minds at some point during each and every day. It turns out that women do as well. An Ohio State University study revealed that guys think about sex 19 times per day (debunking that every-seven-seconds myth) compared to 10 times per day for women.”
Justin DeMarco, muscleandfitness.com, 10/26/2015
- How Often Do Women Think About Sex?
“In a study conducted by Dr. Terri D. Fisher, Professor of psychology at Ohio State University in Mansfield Ohio, the median number of times women participating in the study reported thinking about sex was 9.9 times daily. The average number of times women participating in the study thought about sex was 18.6 times daily … Men thought about sex, food, and sleep about twice as often as women, but they also thought about all three of those things equally often. Women thought about sex, food, and sleep about equally often, but they thought about all those things about half as often as men. … There were 163 women and 120 men who participated, making it a total of 283 students between the ages of 18 and 25. Dr. [Terri D.] Fisher’s study included a rather small sample representing only a narrow segment of our population – young college people. There is no way to know how that sample relates to people who are older. Both women and men between 25 and eternity might well have a different attitude about sex and therefore think about it more or less often than they did at 18-25 years of age.”
C. E. Clark, hubpages.com, 10/9/2015
- Sex Question Friday: How Many Times Per Day Do People Think About Sex?
“For the answer, let’s take a look at a 2012 study published in the Journal of Sex Research in which 283 U.S. college students aged 18-25 were asked to track their thoughts about sex over the course of a week. … Students were randomly assigned to keep track of the number of thoughts they had each day specific to one of three types of needs: food, sleep, or sex. … As demonstrated in this table, men indeed thought about sex more often than women (34 vs. 18 times per day, respectively); however, men thought about all three of these needs more than women. So, sex was not unique in that regard; rather, it appears that men simply spend more time thinking about all needs. … Again, it is important to highlight that this study involved college students only and these numbers may not speak to persons in other populations.”
Dr. Lehmiller, lehmiller.com, 10/2/2015
- Americans Think About Money And Work More Than Sex, Survey Finds
“Money and work dominate our daily thoughts, according to data from a report by GOBankingRates. About one in four Americans said that money is the thing they think about most on a daily basis — and another one in four spent most of their time thinking about work.”
Mark Fahey, Nicholas Wells, nbcnews.com, 9/9/2015
- Thinking About Sex Vs. Actually Doing It
“It is an oft-repeated myth that men think about sex every seven seconds. Two studies reported in BBC Future came to radically different — and far more realistic — conclusions. The first suggested that college-aged men think about sex 19 times per day, while college-aged women think about it 10 times per day; the second suggested that adults thought about sex merely once per day. The latter study was designed in such a way that the result is almost certainly an underestimate. So, let’s pick 10 times per day as the average.”
Alex B. Berezow, realclearscience.com, 1/26/2015
- How Often Men Think About Sex
“It’s a stat that gets bounced around as e-mail-forward wisdom: men think about sex every seven seconds. Even when the idea lacks this mythical specificity and grandiosity (that’s 7,200 times a day!), the idea that men think about sex basically all the time is widespread. And so, it is possible to attach all kinds of bogus statistics to the feeling that men are sex-crazed pigs.”
Alexis C. Madrigal, theatlantic.com, 6/23/2014
- How Often Do Men Really Think About Sex?
“Another approach, used by Wilhelm Hoffman and colleagues, involved issuing German adult volunteers with smartphones, which were set to notify them seven times a day at random intervals for a week. … The results aren’t directly comparable to the Fisher study, as the most anyone could record thinking about sex was seven times a day. But what is clear is that people thought about it far less often than the seven-second myth suggests. They recorded a sexual thought in the last half hour on approximately 4% of occasions, which works out as about once per day, compared with 19 reported in the Fisher study. The real shock from Hoffman’s study is the relative unimportance of sex in the participants’ thoughts. People said they thought more about food, sleep, personal hygiene, social contact, time off, and (until about 5pm) coffee.”
Tom Stafford, bbc.com, 6/18/2014
- How Often Do We Think About Sex? … Results From A New Study
“Although there were gender differences in regard to frequency of sexual thoughts with men experiencing more than women, I think two myths have been dispelled with these data. First women, too, think about sex quite often! And perhaps women think about sex even more often than is turning up in these data due to factors related to social desirability. Second, although men (and women) may be pre-occupied with sexual thoughts, they are certainly not consumed with sexual thoughts every 7 seconds such that they cannot think of anything else! So the old adage that a man cannot concentrate on what someone is saying because his mind is filled with sexual thoughts seems to be false. Time to come up with other excuses!”
Kristen Jozkowski, PhD, kinseyconfidential.org, 1/12/2012
- How Often Do Men And Women Think About Sex?
“I thought it would be informative to hear directly from the scientist who led the study describing in her own words the findings and their interpretation. This blog entry is by the lead author of this study, Dr. Terri D. Fisher, Professor of Psychology at The Ohio State University at Mansfield.”
Brian Mustanski, PhD, psychologytoday.com, 12/6/2011
- Sex On The Brain?: An Examination Of Frequency Of Sexual Cognitions As A Function Of Gender, Erotophilia, And Social Desirability
Abstract: “It is commonly believed that men think about sex much more often than do women, but the empirical evidence in this area is fairly weak. By means of a golf tally counter, 283 college students kept track of their thoughts pertaining to food, sleep, or sex for one week. Males reported significantly more need-based cognitions overall, but there was no significant interaction between sex of participant and type of cognition recorded. Therefore, although these young men did think more about sex than did young women, they also thought more about food and sleep. In contrast, a retrospective estimated frequency of need-based cognitions obtained at the start of the study revealed a sex difference in sexual cognitions, but not thoughts about eating or sleeping. Erotophilia and sexual desirability responding were significant predictors of frequency of sexual cognitions for women, but not for men. Overall, erotophilia was a better predictor of sexual cognition than was sex of participant. Taken as a whole, the results suggest that, although there may be a sex difference in sexual cognitions, it is smaller than is generally thought, and the reporting is likely influenced by sex role expectations.”
Terri D. Fisher, Zachary T. Moore, and Mary-Jo Pittenger, The Journal of Sex Research, Taylor & Francis Ltd, tandfonline.com, 4/19/2011