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Gender Differences in Kissing

June 17, 2010 News, Research No Comments

Kissing rocks, bottom line. Today, it’s largely considered a sign of affection and/or desire in about 90 percent of the world. We know this — and if we don’t know, we suspect. But just what makes a kiss excellent? … Continue Reading

The Chemicals Between Us

June 14, 2010 Research No Comments

Ah, we just dated ourselves citing a Bush song from 1999 in the title like that, didn’t we? What the hell, it’s a good song. And we’ve pretty much all had sex to The Science of Things (our editrix probably still does) and there’s no better intro for the sex chemistry 101 lesson we’re about to impart. … Continue Reading

Sexsomnia, The Ultimate Linkbait

June 9, 2010 Research No Comments

Slow news day? We always laugh when we see a story break about — gasp! — sleep sexing! OMG! Did you know people perform sex in their sleep sometimes? It’s a mainstream media favorite when pageviews need a lift. People love sex and it’s totally OK for the media to talk about it in the context of something involuntary.

“You know how, when you’re sleeping, and you get that sexy feeling, you wake up and nudge the other person in your bed for a wee-hour encounter?” the MSN BodyOdd article asks as an opener. “Well, what if you weren’t actually awake?” Nice! … Continue Reading

Texting While Sexing

May 23, 2010 News, Research 1 Comment

We’ve all heard of sexting, but how about texting while having sex?

According to Advertising Age, a report by Retreve Gadgetology revealed that one in 10 people under 25 have answered a text during sex.

“Social media is embedded in our lives,” explains Manish Rathi, co-founder and VP-marketing at Retrevo, the consumer electronics shopping and review site that performed the study. “It’s why people go to a restaurant and check Foursquare before they sit down with their friends, then take a picture of their food before they eat and upload it to Facebook.”

But texting during sex? Come on! … Continue Reading

Global Sexual Satisfaction Is Mediocre (And Other Facts)

May 22, 2010 Research No Comments

It’s been three years since Durex released the demoralizing results of their Global Sexual Well-Being Study, a survey conducted by Harris Interactive of over 26,000 people in 26 countries about the world. Their summary of global sexual satisfaction: mediocre. … Continue Reading

If They’re Exposed to Hotter Women, You Will Be Less Attractive

May 17, 2010 News, Research 2 Comments

You know that irrational fear you get every time he goes off to a shoot and you start thinking of all the models he’s going to be cavorting around with? Well, guess what? It might not be so irrational after all.

On the Discovery blog:

Kenrick et al.’s experiments demonstrate that men who view photographs of physically attractive women or Playboy centerfolds subsequently find their current mates less physically attractive and become less satisfied with their current relationships. What then would be the cumulative effect of being exposed to young, attractive women on a daily basis? Would there be any real consequences to the men’s dissatisfaction with their relationships?

Secondary school teachers and college professors come in contact with more young women at the peak of their reproductive value than others do. The analysis of a large, representative data set from the United States indicates that, while men in general are less likely to be divorced than women, and secondary school teachers and college professors in general are less likely to be divorced than others, simultaneously being male and being a secondary school teacher or college professor statistically increases the likelihood of being divorced.

Keep avoiding models, actors, photogs and directors and impose a ban on secondary school teachers and college professors! If you have a man, turn off his internet immediately! KEEP HIM AWAY FROM EVERYONE!

You’re welcome! Happy Monday!

Image by Jeffrey Simms. Information from Discovery‘s Discoblog, via Jason Goldman.

The Science of Fidelity

May 16, 2010 News, Research 2 Comments

The gene that produces vasopressin, bonding hormone produced in the brain, has long been known as the “fidelity gene.” Biologist Hasse Walum at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, recently studied 552 different sets of twins to learn more about the gene related to the production of this chemical — to try to get a sense of how its presence affects marriages.

Over all, men who carried a variation in this gene were less likely to be married than those who didn’t. And the men who had gotten married were more likely to have had serious marital problems and unhappy wives. Of the men who carried two copies of the gene variant, about a third had experienced a serious relationship crisis in the past year, double the number seen in the men who did not carry the variant.

But a happy marriage is not necessarily one free of infidelity.

“It’s difficult to use this information to predict any future behavior in men,” Walum told Tara Parker-Pope, who reported about this on her column Well.

But the brain can be taught to resist temptation, Parker-Pope notes, citing a series of studies led by John Lydon, a psychologist at McGill University in Montreal that study people’s reactions to temptation.

In one of these studies, married men and women with high ranking in terms of fidelity were asked to rate the attractiveness of people of the opposite sex in a series of photos. They were then showed similar photos and told the persons were interested in meeting with them. In this instance, they gave photos of equally attractive people lower scores than they had the first time around.

“The more committed you are,” Dr. Lydon said, “the less attractive you find other people who threaten your relationship.”

In another study of 300 heterosexual men and women, half the participants were primed for cheating by imagining a flirtatious conversation with someone they found attractive. The other half just imagined a routine encounter. Afterward, the subjects completed fill-in-the-blank puzzles, which, unbeknown to the participants, were a psychological test used to reveal their subconscious feelings about commitment.

Differences arose between men and women who imagined the flirtatious fantasy. In that group, the men were more likely to complete the puzzles with the neutral words than words related to commitment.

THR_AT became “throat” to men and “threat” to women. LO_AL became “local” to men and “loyal” to women.

This prompted researchers to believe women may have early warning system to alert them to relationship threats.

This study doesn’t really say how people react when encountered by a threat to commitment, but the following one does. In this one, attractive actors and actresses were brought in to flirt with study participants in the waiting room. Afterward, the participants were asked questions about their relationships, especially how they would react to inappropriate behavior on the part of their partner, like forgetting to call.

Men who had been flirting were less forgiving, suggesting the previous flirtation had perhaps affected their commitment, making them more likely to find fault. Women who had been flirting, on the other hand, were more likely to be forgiving and make excuses for their partner in light of the hypothetical infraction, which suggests that the flirtation may have triggered a protective response in them.

“We think the men in these studies may have had commitment, but the women had the contingency plan — the attractive alternative sets off the alarm bell,” Dr. Lydon said. “Women implicitly code that as a threat. Men don’t.”

So can we train the brain to resist temptation? Another McGill study prompted male subjects in committed relationships to imagine running into an attractive woman on a weekend while they were away from their partners. Some were asked to fill in the sentence: “When she approaches me, I will __________ to protect my relationship.”

The subjects were then exposed to a virtual reality game in which two of the four rooms involved “subliminal messages of an attractive woman.” The men who had drafted a contingency plan before hand went into the rooms 25 percent of the time versus 62 percent for the other men.

Interesting — but what keeps people together? Arthur Aron, a psychologist and relationship researcher at Stony Brook University, thinks it’s “self-expansion” — how much a partner broadens your horizons and generally enhances your life.

In a study on the topic, couples are asked questions such as: how much does your partner provide a source of exciting experiences? How much has knowing your partner made you a better person? How much do you see your partner as a way to expand your own capabilities?

The Stony Brook researchers stimulated self-expansion in experiments by giving some couples mundane tasks, while others took part in a silly challenge with a time limit rigged to make them lose on the first two tries and win just barely on the last. The couples who did the silly challenge recorded increase in love and relationship satisfaction than those who did mundane tasks and did not experience the excitement and victory.

They theorize that couples who explore new places and try new things will tap into feelings of self-expansion, lifting their level of commitment.

“We enter relationships because the other person becomes part of ourselves, and that expands us,” Dr. Aron said. “That’s why people who fall in love stay up all night talking and it feels really exciting. We think couples can get some of that back by doing challenging and exciting things together.”

Photo by Elenah Neshcuet. Information from The New York Times.

WARNING! Top 10 Sex Injuries!

May 13, 2010 News, Research 4 Comments

Love hurts, this we know. But so does sex! The Daily Mail has some lolsy stats on the sorts of injuries fearless Brits suffer on a regular basis doing what we do best: the nasty.

The most common complaints are pulled muscles, back injuries, carpet burns, sprained necks and — interestingly — bent back fingers. Even more interesting is that the results come from a poll of 1,000 commissioned by a phone-recycling business Envirofone.

“Sex is a risky business these days,” a spokesperson told the Mail. “There are numerous hazards in and around the home which can inflict severe injuries if people aren’t careful.”

It is unclear what their interest is in doing this, but who cares? We all love stats about sex. Here’s a cool breakdown:

According to the poll, five percent of the surveyed took time off work due to sex-related injuries and two percent suffered broken bones! They also found that one-third of Britons being surveyed had suffered an ache or strain before, during, or closely after sex — and nearly half of these said they only realized their injury the following morning because they’d been too hot at the moment to notice!

Their fave places to do it? The staits, car, kitchen table and office supply closet, with almost four in 10 breaking something during sex (cost of damage? Around $228). Bed frames, wine or pint glasses and picture frames were the most common casualties of passion.

Ten percent of those surveyed said they or their partner had fallen off the bed during sex and one in 50 said they had fallen off a washing machine.

Those Brits sure know how to get it on. It almost makes us feel boring in comparison. How do you think America ranks? Maybe we should ask these guys to do a study.

Infographic and information from The Daily Mail.

Handjobs for Science

May 10, 2010 News, Research 1 Comment

You’ve had a pretty hum-drum at the office, so we here at Sex and the 405 thought we would spice things up a bit with a double shot of WTF science.

dolphin handjobThe following excerpt is from Graham Burnett’s A Mind In The Water, an article about the study of dolphins over time, which will run in the May/June 2010 issue of Orion magazine. The piece touches on the controversial work of neurophysiologist John Cunningham Lilly, who infamously tried to understand the bottlenose through LSD — and even sex.

Oh! That got your attention. Good. You need to wake up.

Over the course of his decade of intensive dolphin research, Lilly can be understood to have more or less sequenced through the whole battery of Cold War techniques for dealing with a tight-lipped foreign asset held in captivity.

Initially committed, in the late 1950s, to that spookish tool kit of techno-maniacal assaults on the cranium (picture a Frankenstein-like cap with electrodes penetrating the skull), Lilly gradually moved, at CRI, to less invasive approaches with his animals. But he nevertheless continued to draw on the playbook of those psy-ops intelligence services that shaped his early training in neurophysiology.

For instance, by the early 1960s he was testing code-breaking techniques, having been granted access to one of the very earliest programmable electronic computers, which he used to try to sieve recordings of dolphin vocalizations for patterns, deploying the same statistical methods as Cold War cryptographers. A little later he began experimenting with “chronic contact” scenarios, which involved “isolating” a dolphin in constricted quarters with a human agent, on the assumption that a conversion of loyalties would result.

To this end, Lilly even redesigned the St. Thomas laboratory with floodable living quarters, and initiated a set of long-term cohabitation experiments in which a male dolphin and a human female in a leotard and lipstick (to help the dolphin see her mouth move, of course) spent weeks interacting in a confined space. Lilly had her read Planet of the Apes to prepare for the work.

This sort of deracinating, intensive environment — colored with erotic potential — belonged, of course, to the world of counterespionage debriefings. Lilly did not explicitly advertise these dimensions of his project, preferring to talk of the need to treat the dolphin like a child, positioned to learn human language from the continuous attentions and baby talk of a new “mother.”

But he was by no means unhappy when an Oedipal scene unfolded underwater: with all the inevitability of a classical drama, this newest effort at interspecies communication eventually climaxed in what is probably the very oldest form of human-animal intimacy — sexual contact.

Pressed by an increasingly desperate Lilly to recognize that she needed to open herself to the dolphin’s solicitations (and warned by him against succumbing to the blinders of her own cultural preoccupations and psychological blockages), the young experimenter eventually decided that the randy and terrifying buckings of her imprisoned subject animal were themselves nothing less than his effort to communicate. In the protocols of her experimental notebooks she recorded coming to feel that her sharp-toothed roommate was doing the best he could to solicit her in a more and more gentle manner; it fell to her to meet him halfway, stroking him to a shuddering calm.

Lilly chalked it up as a victory for interspecies contact. But Swiss Family Robinson it was not. Neither was Lilly’s final effort to hear what the dolphins were saying, which involved the use of lysergic acid diethylamide, otherwise known as LSD.

Image and information from Orion magazine.

The Sexy Librarian: Fiction and Non-Fiction

April 19, 2010 News, Research 2 Comments

In 1992, Will Manley issued a sex survey to librarians. Over 5.000 librarians responded, but the Wilson Library Bulletin refused to run the results. On April 11, 2010, the retired librarian released the results to the public on his blog.

Sex

20% of the respondents felt that sex without love is by definition bad sex.

78% of the female respondents and indicated that they had been sexually harassed by a library patron.

30% of the male respondents indicated that if there were a nuclear war and Roseanne Barr Arnold was the only woman on earth to survive, they would have sex with her in order to propagate the species.

38% of the female respondents indicated that if there were a nuclear war and Pee Wee Herman was the only man on earth to survive, they would have sex with him in order to propagate the species.

By Genre

38% of the respondents classified their sex life as a romance.
31% as a fantasy.
22% as a comedy.
9% as a tragedy.

Frequency of Sex

21% of the respondents reported having no sex.
50% reported having sex 1 – 2 times per week.
22% reported sex 3 – 4 times per week.
6% reported 5 -7 times per week.
1% have it more than 7 times per week.

Sex Outside the Bed

63% reported having had sex at least once in a car.
57% in a sleazy motel room.
52% sleeping bag.
43% kitchen floor.
32% hot tub.
7% airplane.
8% elevator.
20% library (which explains why 22% of respondents felt that libraries should have condom dispensers in their bathrooms).

Read all the survey results here.

Image by Dumio Momio. Information via FetLife.

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Gamers Won’t Be Seduced, Will Stare At Random Cleav Instead

That Steam allows the objectification and sexualization of female characters in a variety of its games but refuses to accept a game about actually engaging with women in a more interactive fashion is astonishingly backward.

FetLife Is Not Safe for Users

That the site doesn’t take measures to protect user content and has shown incompetence or negligence in regard to user privacy, all the while prohibiting victims from warning others about predatory behavior creates an environment where it is nearly impossible for members of the community to take care of themselves and one another. By enabling FetLife to continue espousing a code of silence, allowing the spinning self-created security issues as “attacks,” and not pointing out how disingenuous FetLife statements about safety are, we are allowing our community to become a breeding ground for exploitation.

Why You Should Vote No On Prop 35

Should people who benefit (parents, siblings, children, roommates!) from the earnings of “commercial sex acts” (any sexual conduct connected to the giving or receiving of something of value) be charged with human trafficking? Should someone who creates obscene material that is deemed “deviant” be charged as with human trafficking? Should someone who profits from obscene materials be charged with human trafficking? Should people transporting obscene materials be charged with human trafficking? Should a person who engages in sex with someone claiming to be above the age of consent or furnishing a fake ID to this effect be charged with human trafficking? What if I told you the sentences for that kind of conviction were eight, 14 or 20 years in prison, a fine not to exceed $500,000, and life as a registered sex offender?

Pretty and Calls Herself a Geek? Attention Whore!

If you are a woman, you might be given a chance to prove yourself in this community. Since there is no standard definition of what a “geek” is and it will vary from one judge to the next anyway, chances of failing are high (cake and grief counseling will be available after the conclusion of the test!). If you somehow manage to succeed, you’ll be tested again and again by anyone who encounters you until you manage to establish yourself like, say, Felicia Day. But even then, you’ll be questioned. As a woman, your whole existence within the geek community will be nothing but a series of tests — if you’re lucky. If you aren’t lucky, you’ll be harassed and threatened and those within the culture will tacitly agree that you deserve it.

Cuddle Chemical? Moral Molecule? Not So Fast

Zak’s original field, it turns out, is economics, a far cry from the hearts and teddy bears we imagine when we consider his nickname. But after performing experiments on generosity, Zak stumbled on the importance of trust in interactions, which led him, rather inevitably, to research about oxytocin. Oxytocin, you might remember, is a hormone that has been linked previously to bonding — between mothers and children primarily, but also between partners. What Zak has done is take the research a step further, arguing in his recent book, The Moral Molecule, that oxytocin plays a role in determining whether we are good or evil.

How to Avoid Pissing off a Stripper

Let’s talk about the strippers. Whether they like to be half-naked or not, whether they enjoy turning you on or not, there’s one thing they all have in common: they’re working. Whether you think that taking one’s clothes off for money is a great choice of career is really beside the point (is it a possibility for you to make $500 per hour at your job without a law degree? Just asking). These women are providing fantasy, yes, but that is their job. And as a patron of the establishment where they work, you need to treat them like you would anyone else who provides a service to you.

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Sex and the 405 is what your newspaper would look like if it had a sex section.

Here you’ll find news about the latest research being conducted to figure out what drives desire, passion, and other sex habits; reviews of sex toys, porn and other sexy things; coverage of the latest sex-related news that have our mainstream media's panties up in a bunch; human interest pieces about sex and desire; interviews with people who love sex, or hate sex, or work in sex, or work to enable you to have better sex; opinion pieces that relate to sex and society; and the sex-related side of celebrity gossip. More...