Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Professor Disputes His Study Does More Sex Make Couples Happier? Maybe Not

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Professor Disputes His Study Does More Sex Make Couples Happier? Maybe Not

Article excerpt

It is Carnegie Mellon professor George Loewenstein's firm belief that, generally, married couples would be happier if they had more sex.

But a study that he published this month in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization found just the opposite.

Five years ago, Carnegie Mellon first started recruiting for the study that Mr. Loewenstein described as "extremely difficult to do."

For three months, half of the 64 married couples who participated in the study were told to double their current level of sexual activity, and half were given no instruction on changing their sexual frequency.

Those who increased their frequency had a slightly lower happiness level than couples whose sexual frequency remained unchanged. "They were, if anything, less happy," said Mr. Loewenstein, a professor of economics and psychology. "They ended up wanting sex less and enjoying the sex that they did have less."

Those in the increased sex group showed lower general mood indicators, most reporting significantly less energy and less excitement than those with unchanged sex levels.

Prior to participating, couples in the study had sex between once a month and three times per week. Couples were paid for participating in the study, funded in part through a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Other researchers on the study included Tamar Krishnamurti, Jessica Kopsic and Daniel McDonald.

The study was conceived based on ample previous research showing a correlation between sex and happiness - a 2004 study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, for example, found that an increase in sexual frequency from once a month to once a week would equate in happiness levels to a $50,000 pay raise.

But those studies left open the question of whether people were happier because they were having more sex, or having more sex because they were happier. …

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