It’s pretty well established that a happy employee is a productive one, so it makes sense to try and be as happy as possible when we go to work each day. What role does our sex life play in all of this? A recent study set out to explore whether the amount of sex we have has a big impact on our overall happiness in life. In particular, the authors were testing the hypothesis that more sex equals more happiness.
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The study led by researchers from Carnegie Mellon, split participants into two groups with one having more sex than the other. They then measured their happiness over a three month period. The paper reveals that more sex doesn’t appear to have a great deal of impact on our happiness, with the authors suggesting that greater frequency results in a reduction in our desire for, and enjoyment of, sex.
Sex and happiness
The study saw over 125 married people aged between 35 and 65 assigned to the various groups, with one given no instruction as to their sex life, whereas the other requested to double their weekly frequency.
At the start of the study, each participant completed a survey to establish their baseline happiness level. They then completed further surveys during the three month study period, and then again at the end of the study to test how much their happiness had changed, together with things like their enjoyment of sex.
The couples recruited to the study did indeed obey their instructions very well, with those asked to have more sex doing just that. Alas however, more sex didn’t result in more happiness, with actually the reverse proving to be the case. When the authors delved deeper into this, they found that the couples who were asked to have more sex suffered from lower sex drives and less enjoyment of sex itself at the end of the experiment. It seemed that being asked to artificially increase ones sexual frequency was a key driver for this reduction in enjoyment.
"Perhaps couples changed the story they told themselves about why they were having sex, from an activity voluntarily engaged in to one that was part of a research study. If we ran the study again, and could afford to do it, we would try to encourage subjects into initiating more sex in ways that put them in a sexy frame of mind, perhaps with baby-sitting, hotel rooms or Egyptian sheets, rather than directing them to do so," the authors say.
Despite the less than positive results, the authors still contend that we generally have too little sex for our own good, and that an increase in sexual activity can work wonders for our happiness and wellbeing.
Indeed, they suggest that the findings of the study may in actual fact help us to improve our sex lives, and therefore our overall happiness.
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"The desire to have sex decreases much more quickly than the enjoyment of sex once it’s been initiated. Instead of focusing on increasing sexual frequency to the levels they experienced at the beginning of a relationship, couples may want to work on creating an environment that sparks their desire and makes the sex that they do have even more fun," they conclude.