Men spend time each day thinking about sex, but perhaps not to the extreme. (Los Angeles Times )
Men think about sex, but not nearly as often as most people may believe, a study finds. They also think a lot about food and sleep, too.
The study, published in the January 2012 issue of the Journal of Sex Research, could debunk the stereotype that men are constantly thinking about sex. An often repeated statistic is that men think about sex once every seven seconds.
Researchers from Ohio State University took a novel approach to logging how many times their study subjects, 283 male and female college students age 18 to 25, thought about sex--they gave them golf tally counters and asked them to click it whenever a thought related to sex entered their head.
To conceal the study's emphasis on sex, some participants were asked to log how many times per day they thought about food and sleep. Those results turned out to be revealing as well.
On average men thought about sex 18.6 times a day, and for women the average was 9.9 times a day. Men thought about food an average of almost 18 times a day, and women almost 15 times a day. When it came to sleep, men thought about that almost 11 times a day, and women thought about it about eight and a half times a day.
The range of the number of thoughts per day about sex varied widely for both genders. For men it was between one and 388, and for women, one and 140. Those who thought about sex the most tended to be people who were comfortable with their sexuality.
Before they started keeping track of their thoughts the participants were asked to estimate how many times a day they thought about sex, food and sleep. Those estimates were way below the actual tallies.
"If you had to know one thing about a person to best predict how often they would be thinking about sex, you'd be better off knowing their emotional orientation toward sexuality, as opposed to knowing whether they were male or female," said lead author and psychology professor Terri Fisher in a news release. "Frequency of thinking about sex is related to variables beyond one's biological sex."