Thoughts of men

There are many behaviours for which men as a sex can justifiably be taken to task. Unnecessary and inappropriate public bodily eructation has been one area of warranted criticism as has a misguided belief in the sartorial magnificence of groomed facial hair. In defence of men however, one long-held criticism appears to be unjustified; it would seem that men do not actually spend all of their time thinking about sex.

In a new study involving almost 300 men and women the subjects were divided into three groups. More than half were given a tally counter and asked to click it each time they thought about sex. A second group were asked to click each time they thought about food and the third group clicked when they thought about sleep.

Prior to being given the clicking task, all of the subjects were given a series of questionnaires. These included a sexual opinion survey to measure a positive or negative emotional orientation toward sexuality (erotophilia versus erotophobia), a sociosexual orientation inventory measuring attitudes about sex and tracking sexual behaviour and levels of desire, a social desirability scale to measure respondents’ tendency to try to appear socially acceptable, an eating habits questionnaire, and a sleepiness scale. They also were asked to estimate how many times in an average day that they thought about sleeping, eating and sex.

What was new about this research was that the subjects were not just retrospectively estimating the amount of thoughts they had about sex (or food or sleep) in a day, but they were measuring the thoughts as the day progressed.

As a group the median (not the average) number of times that men thought about sex daily was nineteen. For women the median figure was ten. For men the median number of thoughts about food each day was eighteen and about sleep was eleven. For women those numbers were fifteen for food and eight for sleep.

As a matter of interest, the range for daily thoughts about sex was between one and 388 times for men, and between one and 140 times for women.

The gender difference for thinking about sex was not statistically different from that for thinking about food or sleep. So rather than men thinking more about sex than women, it would appear that men think more about biological needs than women.

Before we use that as a new stick to hit men with though, let’s put it all in perspective; the National Science Foundation is reported as having estimated that individuals have at least 12 000 thoughts per day and that deeper thinkers might have as many as 60 000 thoughts daily. So even adding all the biologically based thoughts together, that would mean the median man still has at least 11 952 thoughts, and possibly 59 952 thoughts, per day to devote to loftier matters than sex, food, and sleep. No wonder we dream of the stars.

The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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