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Why men have sex

Why men have sex

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Why men have sex
Why men have sex

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Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 DOI 10.

1007/s10508-007-9175-2

ORIGINAL PAPER

Why Humans Have Sex
Cindy M. Meston Æ David M. Buss

Received: 20 December 2005 / Revised: 18 July 2006 / Accepted: 24 September 2006 / Published online: 3 July 2007 Ó Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Abstract Historically, the reasons people have sex have been assumed to be few in number and simple in nature–to reproduce, to experience pleasure, or to relieve sexual tension. Several theoretical perspectives suggest that motives for engaging in sexual intercourse may be larger in number and psychologically complex in nature. Study 1 used a nomination procedure that identified 237 expressed reasons for having sex, ranging from the mundane (e.g., ‘‘I wanted to experience physical pleasure’’) to the spiritual (e.g., ‘‘I wanted to get closer to God’’), from altruistic (e.g., ‘‘I wanted the person to feel good about himself/herself’’) to vengeful (e.g., ‘‘I wanted to get back at my partner for having cheated on me’’). Study 2 asked participants (N = 1,549) to evaluate the degree to which each of the 237 reasons had led them to have sexual intercourse. Factor analyses yielded four large factors and 13 subfactors, producing a hierarchical taxonomy. The Physical reasons subfactors included Stress Reduction, Pleasure, Physical Desirability, and Experience Seeking. The Goal Attainment subfactors included Resources, Social Status, Revenge, and Utilitarian. The Emotional subfactors included Love and Commitment and Expression. The three Insecurity subfactors included Self-Esteem Boost, Duty/Pressure, and Mate Guarding. Significant gender differences supported several previously advanced theories. Individual differences in expressed reasons for having sex were coherently linked with personality traits and with individual differences in sexual strategies. Discussion focused on the complexity of sexual motivation and directions for future research.

Keywords Sexual motivation Á Sexual intercourse Á Gender differences

Introduction Why people have sex is an extremely important, but surprisingly little studied topic. One reason for its relative neglect is that scientists might simply assume that the answers are obvious: to experience sexual pleasure, to relieve sexual tension, or to reproduce. Previous research already tells us that the answers cannot be as few or psychologically simple. Leigh (1989), for example, documented seven reasons for sex: pure pleasure, to express emotional closeness, to reproduce, because a partner wants it, to please a partner, to make a conquest, and to relieve sexual tension. The most comprehensive existing taxonomy, framed from a theoretical perspective of dispositional sexual motives, documented eight reasons: to feel valued by a partner, expressing value for a partner, obtaining relief from stress, nurturing one’s partner, enhancing feelings of personal power, experiencing a partner’s power, experiencing pleasure, and procreating (Hill & Preston, 1996). Several theoretical perspectives suggest that reasons for engaging in sexual intercourse might be even more numerous and complex than even this previous research suggests. With the exception of ‘‘to make a conquest,’’ most of the documented reasons for having sex above implicitly assume the context of an ongoing romantic relationship or long-term mateship. Sexual strategies theory (Buss & Schmitt, 1993) and strategic pluralism theory (Gangestad & Simpson, 2000), however, propose that humans have a menu of mating strategies, including long-term, short-term, and extra-pair mating. Thus, there might be reasons for having sex with a casual sex partner or extra-pair partner,

C. M. Meston (&) Á D. M. Buss Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, 108 E. Dean Keeton, Austin, TX 78712, USA e-mail: meston@psy.utexas.edu

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such as the desire to experience sexual variety (Symons, 1979) or seeking to improve one’s sexual skills (Greiling & Buss, 2000) that differ from those that motivate sex in the context of an ongoing romantic relationship. Even within the context of an ongoing mateship, there could be numerous reasons for having sex beyond those already documented. For example, sex might be used to reward a partner or as a favor in exchange for something the partner has done. Or sex might be used to punish a partner, such as when someone engages in a retaliatory affair in order to exact revenge on a partner for having committed some violation within the relationship (Greiling & Buss, 2000). Also, within an ongoing relationship, sex might be used to intensify the relationship, escalate the level of commitment within the relationship, or turn a short-term relationship into a long-term relationship (Buss, 2003). In the clinical literature, Basson (2000) described how women may engage in sexual intercourse for the ‘‘spin-offs’’ they receive, such as emotional closeness, bonding, commitment, love, affection, acceptance, tolerance, and closeness. From yet another perspective, people might use sex as a form of ‘‘mate guarding’’ (Buss & Shackelford, 1997). This could function in one of several possible ways. First, satisfying a partner sexually might function to deter the partner from seeking sexual gratification elsewhere. Second, this strategic use of sexuality might send signals to potential mate poachers, perhaps by rendering the partner less ‘‘open’’ to extra-pair liaisons, causing potential mate poachers to choose other potential targets (Schmitt, 2004; Schmitt & Buss, 2001). Another perspective comes from the literature on sperm competition (Baker & Bellis, 1995; Shackelford, Pound, Goetz, & LaMunyon, 2005). From this perspective, a man whose partner might have been sexually unfaithful might seek sex, which functions to displace the sperm of the rival male. Or a woman might deplete the sperm of her partner, leaving few available for insemination of rival women. None of these hypothesized functions, of course, need operate through conscious psychological mechanisms. More generally, sex can be viewed as a fungible resource–something that one person has the potential to give and something that another person may want. As a soughtafter resource, sex can be exchanged for other resources. Exchanging sex for money, as in the case of prostitution, is one obvious example (Burley & Symanski, 1981). Sex could also be exchanged for meat, as occurs among many traditional hunter-gatherer groups such as the Ache of Paraguay (Hill & Hurtado, 1996). Sex could be exchanged for favors, special privileges, a preferred job, or indeed for any resource. Finally, the psychology of sex does not occur merely between the individual partners directly involved. Sex occurs within a broader social and cultural context, with

implications for prestige, status, and reputation (Buss, 2003). Having sex with a high status individual, for example, might raise a person’s status within the group. Within some groups, having sex with numerous partners might enhance a person’s reputation, providing the motivational impetus for initiating sex. Sex, of course, can sometimes damage a person’s status and reputation, providing reasons for avoiding it or concealing it from others in the group. In sum, because sex has consequences for status and reputation that can act as incentives (or deterrents), a person might be motivated to have sex for social reasons that have nothing to do with the personal relationship within which it occurs. All of these diverse theoretical perspectives, when taken together, point to a singular conclusion: The reasons people have sex are likely to be far more numerous and psychologically complex than previous taxonomists have envisioned. The current research had several primary goals: (1) to identify a broader array of potential reasons that motivate people to engage in sexual intercourse using a nomination procedure designed to survey the wider domain of reasons; (2) to develop an organized taxonomy of reasons for sex using a large sample of women and men; (3) to provide a more comprehensive research tool that can be used by sex researchers; (4) to identify whether women and men differ in their expressed reasons for engaging in sexual intercourse; and (5) to examine whether individual differences in sexual strategies, as measured by the Sociosexuality Inventory (Simpson & Gangestad, 1991), are linked to individual differences in reasons for having sex. Regarding gender differences, previous researchers have explored this issue in a delimited way. Some have found that men are more motivated by purely physical reasons, such as physical release or simply because they are ‘‘horny,’’ whereas women are more motivated by emotional reasons, such as to become psychologically closer to a partner (e.g., Carroll, Volk, & Hyde, 1985; Denney, Field, & Quadagno, 1984; Leigh, 1989). Others have found that men, more than women, have sex in order to provide relief from stress and to enhance their feelings of personal power (Hill & Preston, 1996). Several evolution-based theories suggest that men will be more motivated by the desire for sexual variety (Symons, 1979), the chance for an opportunistic copulation (Buss, 2003), the physical appearance of a potential partner (Buss & Schmitt, 1993), and that emotional factors, such as expressing love or intensifying psychological commitment, would figure more prominently in women’s reasons for having sex (Buss, 2003). The current research was capable of testing these theories, as well as providing a more comprehensive atheoretical description of a potential panoply of gender differences in the reasons expressed for having sex.

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Study 1: Initial Item Generation Method Participants were 203 men and 241 women ranging in age from 17 years to 52 years who were recruited from upper and lower level psychology classes, graduate classes in psychology, and from community volunteers who were participating in several other ongoing studies in the Sexual Psychophysiology Laboratory at the University of Texas. Potential volunteers were told the purpose of the study was to make a comprehensive list of all the reasons why people engage in sexual intercourse. Persons who agreed to participate in the study were asked the following open-ended prompt, ‘‘Please list all the reasons you can think of why you, or someone you have known, has engaged in sexual intercourse in the past.’’ Participants were encouraged to list as many responses as possible. Efforts were made to ensure confidentiality by having participants sit at a distance from other participants such that other’s responses could not be easily read. Anonymity was assured by having participants include only their age and gender on their answer sheets. Results A total of 715 reasons were collected. The authors each independently reviewed the reasons and noted those that were either identical or similar with minor wording changes. Reasons given that both authors marked as similar were deleted or compiled into one combined response, resulting in 237 distinct reasons. The 237 reasons (see Table 3) obtained were listed using a conventional questionnaire format with each item presented as a brief descriptive statement to which subsequent participants rated the likelihood that a given reason has or would lead them to engage in sexual intercourse. The questionnaire was termed the Why Have Sex? (YSEX?) questionnaire. The following instructional set was given at the beginning of the instrument, ‘‘People have sex (i.e., sexual intercourse) for many different reasons. Below is a list of some of these reasons. Please indicate how frequently each of the following reasons led you to have sex in the past. For example, if about half of the time you engaged in sexual intercourse you did so because you were bored, then you would circle ‘‘3’’ beside question 3. If you have not had sex in the past, use the following scale to indicate what the likelihood that each of the following reasons would lead you to have sex. I have had sex in the past because...’’ The response choices were listed on a 5-point Likert scale, with

scale interval anchors being None of my sexual experiences (1), A few of my sexual experiences (2), Some of my sexual experiences (3), Many of my sexual experiences (4), and All of my sexual experiences (5).

Study 2: Psychometric Analyses Method Participants A total of 1,549 undergraduate students (503 men, 1046 women) participated in this study in exchange for course credit. Participants were distinct from those who took part in Study 1. Participants were enrolled in either the 2000– 2003 Fall sessions of Introductory Psychology courses (September–December) or the 2001–2004 Spring Introductory Psychology sessions (January–May). Sample sizes varied between cohorts (2000–2001, n = 570; 2001–2002, n = 341; 2002–2003, n = 341; 2003–2004, n = 297). Participants ranged in age from 16 years to 42 years (96% between the ages of 18 and 22), and the mean age was 19 years. The sample consisted of 62% Caucasian, 4% African American, 15% Hispanic, 15% Asian American, <1% Native American, and 3% ‘‘other ethnicity’’ participants. Ethnicity was determined with the question, ‘‘What ethnicity do you most identify with?’’ Region of heritage was also assessed based on countries of birth or countries of parents’ birth. Across ethnicities, most participants reported North American heritage (96% of Caucasians, 91% of African Americans, 94% of Hispanics, 71% of Asian Americans, 67% of Native Americans, and 59% of ‘‘other’’ ethnicities). The second most substantial reported heritage was Asian heritage (23% of Asian Americans and 33% of ‘‘other’’ ethnicities). Less than 5% of each ethnicity reported South American, African, Middle Eastern, Western European, Eastern European, or South Pacific heritage. Religious affiliations varied, with 36% Fundamentalists, 25% Catholics, 14% Protestants, 14% Atheists/Agnostics, 5% Jewish, 4% Hindus, 2% Buddhists, 1% Muslims, and <1% Pagans/Spiritualists. Sexual experience data were available for 910 women and 343 men. Of these, 73% of women and 68% of men reported having experienced sexual intercourse in the past. Among both men and women, 88% reported having engaged in oral sex and 95% reported having engaging in some form of sexual petting in the past. Four percent of the women and 2% of men were married. Six percent of women and 5% of men were living with a sexual partner.

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‘‘With how many partners have you had sexual intercourse. One theme involved wanting to harm another person. or oral sex. (8) mere opportunity. ‘‘I was mad at my partner. The Institutional Review Board at the University of Texas at Austin approved this research from 2000 to 2004. Confidentiality was protected by assigning each participant with a randomized code number connected to all of his or her data. Openness to Experience. ‘‘I wanted to hurt an enemy’’) or a stranger (e.. obtained consent. Sexual strategies The following five items from the Sociosexual Orientation Inventory (SOI. In each cohort. A second theme involved attaining resources such as a job. on one and only one occasion?’’. Donahue. money. Thus. and Conscientiousness. Questionnaire data were stored in locked file cabinets. AIDS)’’. participants were given either partitions or several feet of space from other participants. we set the significance threshold at a conservative level of p < . so I had sex with someone else’’). and (9) sex just happening due to seemingly uncontrollable circumstances. Extraversion. (4) having sex because of feeling desired by the other. Table 2 presents the 50 most infrequently endorsed reasons for having sexual intercourse out of the possible 237 reasons. herpes. A fourth theme centered on having sex as a means to a seemingly unrelated end.g. Simpson & Gangestad. administered questionnaire packets. (6) curiosity or seeking new experiences. drugs..g. participants were administered questionnaires in small groups of 5–10 same-sex individuals. the YSEX? questionnaire derived from Study 1. 1991).g. 1991) were used to analyze unrestricted sexual behavior and fantasy: ‘‘With how many partners have you had sex (intercourse or oral sex) in the past year?’’. The 44 self-descriptive statements were measured on a 5-point scale.480 Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 Measures Reasons for sexual intercourse Motivators for engaging in sexual intercourse were measured using the 237 item YSEX? questionnaire that was developed in Study 1. Participants were informed of the sexual nature of the study before they applied to participate. (3) expression of love. 8 of the top 10. Results Personality The Big Five Inventory-short form (BFI) is a 44 item inventory developed by John. (7) marking a special occasion for celebration. given that 237 t-tests would be conducted. a promotion. (2) experiencing physical pleasure. large ‘‘drop box’’ as participants exited the testing room..’’ An SOI composite was computed by averaging the sum of the five z-transformed scores.g.. A third common theme revolved around enhancing social status (e. with responses ranging from disagree strongly (1) to agree strongly (5). ‘‘I wanted to be popular’’. ‘‘I wanted to have more sex than my friends’’). and Kentle (1991) to assess each of the ‘‘Big Five’’ personality dimensions: Neuroticism. (5) having sex to escalate the depth of the relationship. and a fifth theme involved having sex out of duty or pressure. questionnaire packets were inserted into a Gender differences in reasons for having sex To examine gender differences at the item level. how often would you fantasize about sex with someone other than your current partner?’’. the short form version of the Big Five Inventory (John et al. such as getting rid of a headache or menstrual cramps. selected items from the Sociosexual Orientation Inventory (Simpson & Gangestad. Agreeableness. or gifts. and answered participant questions that arose during testing. Procedure Participants were administered a demographics questionnaire. As can be seen in Table 1. Item analyses Most and least frequently endorsed reasons for having sex There were nine themes that appeared to characterize the most frequently endorsed reasons for having intercourse: (1) pure attraction to the other person in general. and all files connected to the study were password-protected. roughly one difference that showed significance at this level would be 123 . ‘‘When in a stable and committed relationship.. The most frequently endorsed reason why both men and women reported engaging in sexual intercourse was because they were attracted to the person. Upon completion. a rival (e.g. either a partner (e. 1991). and consent forms were kept in a separate file. Table 1 shows the 50 reasons for having sex receiving the highest endorsements for men and women separately. out of a pool of 237 items.. The least frequently endorsed reasons for having intercourse could be categorized into five broad themes. and ‘‘Sex without love is okay. and a number of additional sexually relevant questionnaires not reported here. ‘‘With how many partners will you probably have sex with (intercourse or oral sex) over the next five years?’’. Same-sex researchers informed participants of the sexual material.005. and 20 of the top 25 reasons given for engaging in sexual intercourse were similar for men and women. To preserve privacy. ‘‘I wanted to give someone else a sexually transmitted disease (e.

I wanted to keep my partner satisfied 42.12 I wanted to celebrate a birthday or anniversary or special 2.33 I was sexually aroused and wanted the release 3.24 1.57 1.18 I wanted the experience 2.25 2. I was attracted to the person I wanted to experience the physical pleasure It feels good I wanted to show my affection to the person I wanted to express my love for the person I was sexually aroused and wanted the release I was ‘‘horny’’ It’s fun I realized I was in love SD Item Men M 481 SD 3.17 2.07 The person caressed me 2.32 The person’s physical appearance turned me on 2.27 2.15 1. The opportunity presented itself 44. I wanted the adventure/excitement 28.32 1.36 2.31 2. It was a special occasion 39.14 1.11 1. adventurous 2.24 It seemed like the natural next step in my relationship 2.58 1. I wanted to intensify my relationship 31.39 3.05 I was curious about my sexual abilities occasion 36.39 I wanted to experience the physical pleasure 3.27 1.35 1.17 I wanted to intensify my relationship 2.15 2.e.25 2.20 1. The person had a desirable body 35.26 1.79 1.87 1. intimacy) 13.. I was ‘‘in the heat of the moment’’ 11.06 1.24 1.66 1. The person made me feel sexy 21.23 1.34 1.21 3.29 1. I wanted to please my partner 12.79 1. I wanted the pure pleasure 14.06 1.22 1.42 I was ‘‘in the heat of the moment’’ 2. I wanted to communicate at a ‘‘deeper’’ level 37..22 2.28 The person made me feel sexy 2.e. I wanted to celebrate a birthday or anniversary or special 2.76 1.26 2. The person really desired me 20.17 1. It seemed like the natural next step in my relationship 23.23 It’s exciting.88 1.11 occasion 1. 5.39 1.71 1. I wanted to feel loved 34.35 I wanted to keep my partner satisfied 2.31 123 .19 I hadn’t had sex for a while 1.14 The person had beautiful eyes 2.09 2. 3.85 1.16 1.31 3.87 1.27 2.23 2.65 1.17 1.33 It was a romantic setting 2.08 2.05 1. I wanted the experience 27.90 . I wanted to improve my sexual skills 2. 9. I wanted to say ‘‘I’ve missed you’’ 41.62 1.06 1.39 2. 7.49 I wanted to express my love for the person 2.16 1.06 1.08 I wanted to become one with another person 2.46 I desired emotional closeness (i.39 1.32 I was attracted to the person 3.14 2.55 3. 6.47 I wanted to achieve an orgasm.96 1.38 1.03 The person was too physically attractive to resist 1. The person was intelligent 40.21 1.39 1.30 I wanted to show my affection to the person 3.11 1. intimacy) 2.24 I wanted to improve my sexual skills 2.26 10.26 2.08 1.10 1.84 1.37 I realized I was in love 2.75 1.44 2.31 The person was too ‘‘hot’’ (sexy) to resist 4.11 1.37 1.87 1.91 1.25 3.06 I wanted to please my partner 2. I wanted to increase the emotional bond by having sex 26.28 3.03 1.26 2. 2.24 1.17 1.27 The opportunity presented itself 2.67 1. I wanted to feel connected to the person 17. It’s exciting.33 The person had a desirable body 2. I wanted to become one with another person 24.22 My hormones were out of control 2. My hormones were out of control 32.18 2.09 2.03 1.44 2.89 1.26 3.19 It feels good 3.22 I wanted to increase the emotional bond by having sex 2.92 1.40 The person really desired me 2. The person caressed me 22.16 3.15 1.49 1.11 1.25 1.Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 Table 1 Top 50 reasons why men and women have sex Item Women M 1.19 2.15 1.43 1. I was curious about sex 38.25 It’s fun 3. The person’s physical appearance turned me on 18. I desired emotional closeness (i.14 The person had an attractive face 2.96 1. I wanted to achieve an orgasm 15.14 1.99 I wanted to feel loved 1.11 1.43 1. 4.46 2.41 2.56 1.09 It was a special occasion 1.29 I wanted the adventure/excitement 2.15 1.48 1.59 1.84 1. The person had a great sense of humor 45.30 2.30 1.45 1. The person had an attractive face 29.46 1.20 1.47 2.16 2.32 2.31 I wanted to feel connected to the person 2.88 1.22 1.34 1.35 2.37 2.29 2.26 I was ‘‘horny’’ 3.27 2.07 2. It just happened 25.16 I wanted to try out new sexual techniques or positions 2.03 I saw the person naked and could not resist 1.15 It just happened 2. 2. 8.28 3.11 1. The person was a good kisser 30.73 1.89 1.23 The person was a good kisser 1.14 1. I got ‘‘carried away’’ 43.11 1. I wanted to try out new sexual techniques or positions 33. It was a romantic setting 19.17 1.25 I wanted the pure pleasure 2.45 1.44 1.14 1. adventurous 16.

06 .06 .01 2.08 . ‘‘The person had too much to drink and I was able to take advantage of them.47 1. AIDS) Someone offered me money to do it I wanted to get a raise It was an initiation rite to a club or organization I wanted to get a job I wanted to get a promotion The person offered to give me drugs for doing it I wanted to punish myself I wanted to hurt/humiliate the person SD Item Men M SD 1.33 I wanted to hurt an enemy 1.21 1.24 I wanted to punish myself 1. I wanted to breakup another’s relationship 13.25 I wanted to breakup my relationship 1. I wanted to hurt an enemy 20.’’ and ‘‘It feels good.27 It was an initiation rite to a club or organization 1.’’ and simply because the opportunity presented itself: ‘‘The person was available’’.28 1. I wanted to breakup my relationship 12.01 2. ‘‘The person was too ‘‘hot’’ (sexy) to resist. such as ‘‘The person had a desirable body’’. I wanted to make money 19. showed significant gender differences at or beyond the p < .06 .06 .52 1.44 1.10 ..43 1. 6.06 .19 .29 I wanted to feel closer to God 1. ‘‘I wanted to enhance my reputation’’.56 1.52 123 .03 .36 The person had a lot of money 1.46 1.49 1.55 1.12 .05 .32 I wanted to get rid of a headache 1.28 I was afraid to say ‘‘no’’ due to the possibility of physical 1.15 .10 .08 I wanted to communicate at a ‘‘deeper’’ level I wanted to experiment with new experiences The person was intelligent I wanted to keep my partner happy I was curious about what the person was like in bed 2.46 1. ‘‘I wanted to brag to my friends Table 2 The 50 most infrequent reasons why men and women have sex Item Women M 1.14 .04 . I wanted to enhance my reputation 17.03 .. n = 894–908 for women.20 I wanted to give someone else a sexually transmitted disease (e. An astonishing 123 items.14 .13 .53 1.83 1.g.54 1. 1–5. 47..06 .g.09 .04 .482 Table 1 continued Item Women M 46. Because of a bet 21.14 1.98 1. 7.00 1. herpes.28 I wanted to make money 1. 49.12 . I was curious about my sexual abilities The person seemed self-confident I wanted to make up after a fight I was drunk I was turned on by the sexual conversation 1.26 Someone offered me money to do it 1.03 . I wanted to feel closer to God 11. herpes.33 Because of a bet 1.10 SD Item Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 Men M SD 1.13 .84 1.04 . 50.06 . Men showed significantly greater endorsement of having sex due to physical reasons. I wanted to end the relationship 1.45 1.82 1. 48.22 1. AIDS) 1.06 .31 I wanted to break up a rival’s relationship by having sex 1.06 .06 .35 I wanted to get a promotion 1.’’ Men exceeded women on many items that pertained to physical pleasure such as.04 . I wanted to get a favor from someone 16.28 I wanted to hurt/humiliate the person 1. 9.86 1. ‘‘I wanted to achieve an orgasm.12 .56 1.49 1.54 with his/her partner 1.33 I wanted to be used or degraded 1.02 .50 1.03 .12 .14 .26 I wanted to get a job 1. 5. 3. I wanted to give someone else a sexually transmitted disease (e. It would get me gifts 18.12 .10 . 8.28 I wanted to get a raise 1.14 .06 1.03 .11 . n = 460–480 for men attributable to chance alone.22 The person offered to give me drugs for doing it 1.55 1. or 52% of the items.02 .32 I wanted to breakup another’s relationship 1.32 It would damage my reputation if I said ‘‘no’’ 1.02 2. I wanted to gain access to that person’s friend 15.005 level.12 . It was a favor to someone 22.’’ Men more than women reported having sex as a way to improve their social status (e.13 .51 10.44 1. I wanted to be used or degraded 14.10 .54 harm 1. 4. 2.94 Note: Absolute range.g.12 .34 It would get me gifts 1.45 1.

I was competing with someone else to ‘‘get the person’’ 47. Someone dared me 27. ‘‘I needed another notch on my belt’’.06 .58 1.42 I was mad at my partner.06 .61 1.36 I wanted to avoid hurting someone’s feelings 1.55 1. The person was famous and I wanted to be able to say I had sex 1.45 I wanted to stop my partner’s nagging 1. After inspection of the scree plot.e.61 1. and effect sizes calculated using Cohen’s d are reported for the 50 items showing the largest sex differences in Table 3.35 The person bought me jewelry 1.53 1. n = 461–478 for men about my conquests’’) and their sexual experience (e.62 1.33 I was physically forced to 1.10 .35 I wanted to get a favor from someone 1.21 . The four 123 . so I had sex with someone else 1. I wanted to be popular 31.07 .10 .22 .36 I felt sorry for the person 1.43 I thought it would boost my social status 1.38 My friends pressured me into it 1.Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 Table 2 continued Item Women M SD Item Men M 483 SD 23.38 I wanted to have a child 1.10 . ‘‘I wanted to express my love for the person’’. I wanted to get out of doing something 44.43 I wanted to get out of doing something 1. The person had a lot of money 26. I thought it would boost my social status 30. I felt jealous 37.19 .20 .56 1.55 1. I felt sorry for the person 36.29 I wanted to get back at my partner for having her partner cheated on me 24.22 .005): ‘‘I wanted to feel feminine’’.61 1. all factor analyses were conducted on z-score transformations standardized on the combined sample of men and women.60 1.08 .59 1.20 .07 . ‘‘I realized that I was in love.08 . A four factor solution yielded the most consistent pattern of loadings for both men and women. n = 893–907 for women. I wanted to break up a rival’s relationship by having sex with his/ 1.07 . and five factor solutions.08 .60 1.18 .11 .17 .40 Someone dared me 1.22 . ‘‘I wanted to improve my sexual skills’’).62 1. so I had sex with someone else 1. I wanted to change the topic of conversation 40.20 .65 1.16 .12 .74 1.’’ Women exceeded men on only three of the 237 reasons (at p < .37 I felt guilty 1.59 1.22 .58 1. I wanted to impress friends 1.19 . four.17 . so I had sex with someone else 38. We used direct oblimin with Kaiser normalization for the analyses because we expected the factors for having sex to be related.42 I wanted to make someone else jealous 1.32 I felt jealous 1.08 .19 .10 .09 . we examined three.44 I thought it would help ‘‘trap’’ a new partner with him/her 43.06 .48 I wanted to change the topic of conversation 1.61 32. Finally.54 1.57 1. The person demanded that I have sex with him/her 1.36 My regular partner is boring.08 .17 .38 I wanted to be popular 1..10 .35 It was a favor to someone 42.34 I wanted to gain access to that person’s friend 1. I wanted to even the score with a cheating partner 29.33 I wanted to be popular 1.66 1.16 .40 I wanted to gain acceptance from friends 1.20 . I wanted to get even with someone (i. I was afraid to say ‘‘no’’ due to the possibility of physical harm 1.16 . ‘‘I wanted to improve my sexual skills.09 .63 1.07 .18 .06 .18 .g. I was slumming 49.59 1.07 . I wanted to have more sex than my friends 28.63 1.07 .18 .23 . My friends pressured me into it 35.12 .11 .21 . The person had too much to drink and I was able to take advantage of them 41. I wanted to make someone else jealous 46. I wanted to get a special favor from someone 33. It would damage my reputation if I said ‘‘no’’ 25.52 1..57 1.45 I wanted to manipulate him/her into doing something for me Note: Absolute range.63 1. I thought it would help ‘‘trap’’ a new partner 48.22 . revenge) 45. I wanted to relieve menstrual cramps 34.42 I wanted to defy my parents 1.08 . 1–5. Principal components analyses were conducted on the 237 items separately by gender.’’ Means. My regular partner is boring. SDs.11 . men exceeded women on endorsing a variety of utilitarian reasons for sex: ‘‘I wanted to change the topic of conversation’’. Factor analysis Because items differed in their variances.19 .16 .40 I wanted to enhance my reputation 1. I wanted to brag to friends about my conquests 50.62 1. I wanted to get rid of a headache 39.37 I wanted to end the relationship 1.18 .

33 –.68 .27 1.17 1.57 1.07 .59 1.89 1.29 1.30 –.10 .13 1. revenge) The person was famous and I wanted to be able to say I had sex with him/her I was competing with someone to ‘‘get the person’’ I could brag to other people about my sexual experience I wanted to get a favor from someone I wanted adventure/excitement I thought it would make me feel healthy I wanted to see what all the fuss is about I wanted to be popular 1.33 –. 5.62 2.10 1.10* –4.72 1.33 –.23 1.96 1.67 1.62* –9.19 2. 41.87 1. 10.24 –.38* –7.11 1.09 1.484 Table 3 Top 50 largest gender differences in why men and women have sex Item Women M 1.24 1.25 –.81 .24 –.40 .87 1.87 .16 1.62 1. 6. 32.06 1.18* –4.02* –3.26 1.65 1.28 –.33 .39 1.33 2. 14.31 –.17 1.14 1.18 1.20 1.25 1.25 –.88 1.07 1.45 .25 2.66 .32 . 28.24 –.47 2.14 1.55 1.62 3.11* –4. 2.74 .32 .88 1.40 2. 3.43 –.11 .32 –.25 –.06 1. 21. 33.57 –.82 1.45 1.34* –5.15 1. 46.30* –4.42 1.18 1.27 1.03* –4.65 . 20.40 –.08 1.16* –5.06 2.10 1.76 1.33 –. 47.35 1.26 –. 45.09 . 9.15 2.89 1. 43.46* –5.24 1.58 .20* –4. 31. 27.22 .33 .10 3.07 1.31 –.44 1.47* –5.28* –5. 13.69 .07* –4.50 1.09 1.81 1.99 .46 1.99* –6. 34. 40. 11.14* –4.15 2.62 1.22 .66 1.24 1. 15. 4.38* –6.33 –.34 2.24 –.31 1.26 .44 .47 1.26 1.37* –4.13 .20 2.31 –. 42.33* –5.59 2.07 1. 36.25 –.75* –4.15 1.86 1.45 1.67 1. 23.96 3.54* –7.45 1.39 .30 –.53 .38* –4.14 .37 Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 Men M 1.50 .43 –.04* –4.51 .11 1.38* –4. 12.76 .61 1.50 .29 –.25 –.89 .55* –5.39 3.82* –5.96* –. 37.12* –5.61 1.53 .28 –. 17.06 1.29 1.26 –.32* –4.16 1.12 1.49 1.65 .41 1.61 1.25 .23 –.36 –.14 .27 3.24 –.28 –.14* –4. 19.32 –. 8.74 2.07* –4.43* –4.07 SD .22 1.40 –.23 –.38* –5.35 1.05* –4. 29.11* 7.79 1.57 2.79 1.25 1.93 1.26 .33 . 22.75 1.93 . 7.79 .64 –. 25.45 1.43 .12* –5.33* –4.07 1.37 1.24 1.62 t d –10.31 .05 2.18 .17 1.79 .23 .00 1. 30.24 123 .99 .07* –4.38 1.25 –. 35.12 2. 16.80 3.14* –5.64 .30 1. The person wore revealing clothes I wanted to feel masculine I wanted to relieve ‘‘blue balls’’ I wanted to feel feminine The person had a desirable body The person was ‘‘available’’ The person’s physical appearance turned me on It’s fun The person had an attractive face I wanted to achieve an orgasm The opportunity presented itself I wanted to see if I could get the person into bed I wanted to keep my partner satisfied I wanted to have more sex than my friends I wanted to enhance my reputation I wanted to increase the number of sex partners I had experienced I saw the person naked and could not resist The person was too ‘‘hot’’ (sexy) to resist The person had too much to drink and I was able to take advantage of them I needed another ‘‘notch on my belt’’ I hadn’t had sex for a while It feels good My partner kept insisting I knew the person was usually ‘‘out of my league’’ I thought it would boost my social status The person had beautiful eyes The person was too physically attractive to resist It was a favor to someone I wanted to have something to tell my friends I was bored I wanted to improve my sex skills I had not had sex in a long time I wanted to brag to friends about my conquests Someone dared me I wanted to impress friends I wanted to act out a fantasy The person demanded that I have sex with him/her I wanted to please my partner I wanted to get even with someone (i.81* –4.98* –4..78 1.75* –5.24 –.69 .65 1.43 .25 –.69 1.11 1.27 –.25 –.23* –8.91 1.e.87 1.19 SD 1.26 –.40* –4.10 1. 26. 18.23 1.97 1.28 1. 24.67 1.54 .65 .25 –.24 –.58 1. 44.42 .66 .92 .74 1.14 1.90 .14 2.07 2.12* –4.07* –4.44 1. 39.12 .35 . 38.

1–5.32 1.26 Men M 1. It feels good. and Insecurity Reasons. 50. and Insecurity Reasons (see Table 4).59 .18 3.24 –.66 .74 .’’ It’s fun.70 . Next. all ps < . I wanted to change the topic of conversation I wanted to end the relationship I was ‘‘horny’’ 1. r(31) = .64 . and the pattern of item loadings on the factors corresponded closely to the expected factors of Physical Reasons. Emotional Reasons. we then conducted a principal components analysis on the intercorrelations among the 237 reasons.82* –. n = 871–908 for women.66 . . extracting four factors. I wanted the pure pleasure. I wanted to try out new sexual techniques or positions. Goal Attainment Reasons.001. I had not had sex in a long time. Emotional Reasons. using the combined sample of men and women. The four factors accounted for 37% of the total item variance. I wanted to experience the physical pleasure.63 . respectively. I was ‘‘horny. I was curious about what the person was like in bed. I wanted to improve my sexual skills.09 1. We labeled these factors Physical Reasons.66 . Goal Attainment Reasons. 1978).86* –3. and Insecurity Reasons.61 .95.70 .60 . I wanted to achieve an orgasm.06 3. Table 4 Factor analysis of the 237 item YSEX? Questionnaire in combined sample of men and women Item Item Description Factor Physical 200 217 123 151 51 220 32 54 103 21 19 113 153 9 106 221 52 99 83 15 41 218 The person’s physical appearance turned me on.65 .74 . to examine whether the general pattern of factors were comparable for men and women. Because the factor structures were similar for men and women.90.71 .92* –3. The opportunity presented itself.97.58 . n = 453–480 for men factors accounted for 42% and 35% of the total item variance in men and women.68 . r(20) = .96. adventurous. I was sexually aroused and wanted the release. The person was too physically attractive to resist. Emotional Reasons. respectively. I wanted the experience. * p £ . we conducted a coefficient of comparability (Nunnally.40 .56 Goal Attainment Emotional Insecurity 123 . were: r(44) = . which is a test of the correlation among the factors derived from one population and the factors derived from a second population.001. Goal Attainment Reasons.11 SD . The person had a desirable body.64 . The person had an attractive face.Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 485 Table 3 continued Item Women M 48.59 .22 1.61 1.25 –.71 . Correlations among factors derived separately among men and women for the factors Physical Reasons.67 . I wanted to experiment with new experiences. The person was too ‘‘hot’’ (sexy) to resist.25 –3.38 SD . I wanted the adventure/excitement. It’s exciting.22 t d Note: Absolute range. r(46) = .67 . I saw the person naked and could not resist. 49. and rotating the factors via the direct oblimin method.61 .

34 . .46 . The person was ‘‘available. I thought it would make me feel healthy.52 .52 . I wanted to see what all the fuss is about.31 .44 It would allow me to ‘‘get sex out of my system’’ so that I could focus on other things.39 .34 .’’ I wanted to please my partner. The person caressed me. The person wore revealing clothes. I wanted to see whether sex with a different partner would feel different or better.53 .44 Emotional Insecurity . I could brag to other people about my sexual experience.40 . (59) The person was a good kisser.32 –.42 . I wanted to feel masculine. The person was a good dancer.35 I wanted to release anxiety/stress. I wanted to see if I could get the other person into bed.37 .37 .38 . It was easier to ‘‘go all the way’’ than to stop. I got ‘‘carried away.53 .’’ The person was mysterious. The person smelled nice.’’ The person had a great sense of humor.34 .37 –.52 .’’ I was curious about sex.48 . I wanted to act out a fantasy. An erotic movie had turned me on. I’m addicted to sex. . The person made me feel sexy.35 .42 . I wanted to increase the number of sex partners I had experienced.32 .’’ I wanted to relieve ‘‘blue balls.33 –.34 .486 Table 4 continued Item Item Description Factor Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 Physical Goal Attainment 222 219 203 212 211 85 225 196 193 104 126 92 59 207 107 224 204 67 201 60 42 46 110 18 210 134 195 58 157 227 209 2 118 1 44 37 197 109 216 130 102 96 192 228 205 114 105 I was turned on by the sexual conversation.55 .30 .36 . (93) I hadn’t had sex for a while. (210) I wanted to see what it would be like to have sex with another person.39 .40 .52 .36 . The person seemed self-confident. My hormones were out of control.37 . The person really desired me.33 –. The person was really desired by others. I wanted to satisfy a compulsion.39 .51 .53 .38 . I was drunk.36 .46 . It just happened.47 .43 .36 .52 . I was frustrated and needed relief.44 I was attracted to the person.52 .53 . I thought it would relax me. The person had beautiful eyes. .43 .51 .32 123 .38 .31 –. I wanted to get the most out of life. I was ‘‘in the heat of the moment. I wanted to celebrate something.45 .36 –.45 . I was curious about my sexual abilities. I knew the person was usually ‘‘out of my league. I wanted to release tension. .47 . I am a sex addict.31 .40 .42 .

50 –. I felt jealous.32 .85 –.54 –.32 . I wanted to dominate the other person.62 –.73 –. I wanted to get a job. I wanted to hurt an enemy. I wanted to punish myself.58 –.85 –. I wanted to give someone else a sexually transmitted disease (e. I wanted to even the score with a cheating partner. I was tired of being a virgin. I wanted to breakup another’s relationship.59 –.74 –. I wanted to see what it would be like to have sex while stoned (e. I wanted to get a raise.84 –.56 –. I was bored.. I wanted to get a special favor from someone.51 –. AIDS).65 –.71 –. I wanted to get rid of a headache. I wanted to get out of doing something. I thought it would boost my social status.49 .g. I wanted to get a promotion. It became a habit. The person had a lot of money.g.. I wanted to hurt/humiliate the person. Because of a bet.32 . Someone offered me money to do it.54 –.59 –.55 –. The person flattered me. I wanted to make a conquest. I wanted to gain access to that person’s friend.88 –. It was a favor to someone.70 –. I was seduced. I wanted to have something to tell my friends.31 –. I wanted to get rid of aggression.33 .58 –. I wanted to break up a rival’s relationship by having sex with his/her partner.68 –.51 –. The person offered to give me drugs for doing it. I was under the influence of drugs.60 –. My regular partner is boring.63 –.53 –. I wanted to get a favor from someone.55 –.Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 Table 4 continued Item Item Description Factor Physical Goal Attainment 131 87 125 100 3 95 215 12 13 31 11 124 115 155 154 156 181 169 147 129 213 148 178 173 177 167 170 141 133 137 78 168 56 199 214 158 143 198 127 119 226 112 128 161 191 145 It seemed like good exercise.64 –. herpes.66 –.32 . I wanted to breakup my relationship.53 –. on marijuana or some other drug).33 487 Emotional Insecurity 123 . I wanted to be popular. I wanted to make money. so I had sex with someone else.32 . I was mad at my partner.54 –. I wanted to enhance my reputation.83 –. I wanted to lose my inhibitions. I wanted to relieve menstrual cramps.33 . It would damage my reputation if I said ‘‘no. –.67 –. so I had sex with someone else.’’ I wanted to be used or degraded. The person had too much to drink and I was able to take advantage of them. It was an initiation rite to a club or organization.

The person had bought me jewelry. I wanted to say ‘‘I’ve missed you.33 Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 Goal Attainment –.40 –.34 –. I wanted to return a favor.40 –. I wanted to get back at my partner for having cheated on me. . I wanted to show my affection to the person. I wanted to make someone else jealous. I wanted to feel closer to God.e.39 –. It would get me gifts.37 –.63 . get revenge). I wanted to burn calories.30 Emotional Insecurity .’’ I wanted to celebrate a birthday or anniversary or special occasion. I wanted to get even with someone (i. My friends pressured me into it.43 –. I wanted to become more focused on work – sexual thoughts are distracting.40 –. I wanted to have more sex than my friends.42 –.34 –..31 –.46 –.62 .44 –.35 –. Someone dared me.36 –. I wanted to defy my parents. I wanted to test my compatibility with a new partner.64 . I wanted to make someone else jealous.45 –. I wanted to end the relationship.59 . I wanted to become one with another person. I realized I was in love.52 . I wanted to increase the emotional bond by having sex.62 . I was married and you’re supposed to. The person was famous and I wanted to be able to say I had sex with him/her.34 –.38 –.46 –. I wanted to gain acceptance from my friends. I wanted to have a child. I thought it would help me to fall asleep. I wanted to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. I needed another ‘‘notch on my belt. I was slumming. I wanted to intensify my relationship.32 . I wanted to express my love for the person. I wanted to reproduce. I was competing with someone else to ‘‘get the person.41 –.488 Table 4 continued Item Item Description Factor Physical 150 160 57 23 7 55 202 174 63 49 5 208 50 144 28 39 152 29 146 108 182 27 69 206 176 231 162 171 138 190 101 97 82 186 8 35 30 229 117 16 90 14 166 74 183 184 71 I wanted to impress friends. I was on the ‘‘rebound’’ from another relationship. The person had taken me out for an expensive dinner.35 –.44 –. Everyone else was having sex. I wanted to change the topic of conversation.40 –.39 –.35 –.47 –. Someone had told me that this person was good in bed. I wanted to communicate at a deeper level. I wanted to feel connected to the person.61 .33 –.33 –.33 –.52 123 . It’s considered ‘‘taboo’’ by society.40 –.62 .55 . I was afraid to say ‘‘no’’ due to the possibility of physical harm.’’ I wanted to brag to my friends about my conquests.45 –. I wanted to keep warm.’’ I wanted to reaffirm my sexual orientation.

I was verbally coerced into it.37 Insecurity 123 .39 .59 –.’’ I wanted to lift my partner’s spirits.54 –. My partner kept insisting.50 –.. I wanted a ‘‘spiritual’’ experience. I was feeling lonely.49 –.32 . I wanted to keep my partner satisfied. I wanted to welcome someone home.32 Goal Attainment Emotional . I felt obligated to.41 .43 .44 . It was expected of me. I wanted to say ‘‘goodbye. I didn’t want to ‘‘lose’’ the person.’’ I wanted to put the passion back into my relationship.44 –. I wanted the person to love me. I desired emotional closeness (i. I wanted to feel powerful.47 .e.65 –. I wanted to keep my partner from straying.66 –. I wanted to raise my self-esteem.67 –. I didn’t know how to say ‘‘no.45 –. I wanted the person to feel good about himself/herself. I wanted to decrease my partner’s desire to have sex with someone else.’’ I wanted to say ‘‘Thank you. I wanted my partner to notice me.46 –.43 –.45 .34 . I wanted him/her to stop bugging me about sex.51 .49 –. I wanted to make up after a fight.44 .46 –.39 . I felt insecure.45 –.53 –.47 .59 –. .53 –.31 –. I wanted to feel loved. It seemed like the natural next step. I wanted to say ‘‘I’m sorry. I wanted to make myself feel better about myself.51 –.45 –. I wanted to feel attractive. I wanted to be nice.46 . It was a special occasion. I wanted to keep my partner happy. I wanted to get my partner to stay with me. I wanted to feel good about myself.’’ I didn’t want to disappoint the person.38 . I was afraid my partner would have an affair if I didn’t have sex with him/her.51 .44 –. I felt guilty.Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 489 Table 4 continued Item Item Description Factor Physical 135 188 185 164 189 187 235 142 163 72 223 6 234 159 79 10 93 136 48 53 47 80 61 132 26 25 139 233 73 43 88 121 84 91 232 17 65 77 172 34 122 68 33 140 22 180 111 It was a romantic setting. I was pressured into doing it.45 –.67 –. The person was intelligent.57 –.44 .50 –. I wanted to get a partner to express love.57 –.48 . I wanted to boost my self-esteem.38 .36 . I felt like I owed it to the person.51 –.48 –. I felt like it was my duty.43 .36 –. I wanted to feel loved. I wanted to help my partner forget about his/her problems.51 –.63 –. intimacy).

30 have been suppressed Subfactor analyses and scale construction Because each of the four factors contained a large and quite heterogeneous number of different reasons.30 Note: Factor loadings < . and a three factor solution (44% of total item variance) for Insecurity Reasons (see Tables 5–8 for factor loadings).40 –. I thought it would help ‘‘trap’’ a new partner. It was just part of the relationship ‘‘routine’’. Goal Attainment Reasons.40 –.42 –. The Physical reasons subfactors were labeled Stress Reduction. a four factor solution (47% of total item variance) for Goal Attainment Reasons. I wanted to ensure the relationship was ‘‘committed.36 –. Composites were formed for each of the subfactors by calculating the mean of the items that loaded on each of the subfactors. Duty/Pressure.37 –. I wanted to make my partner feel powerful.30 and were 123 .490 Table 4 continued Item Item Description Factor Physical 86 62 24 66 175 98 237 64 81 70 4 149 236 38 179 165 45 76 36 94 89 40 194 230 75 120 20 It was the only way my partner would spend time with me. I wanted to fulfill a previous promise to my partner. yet distinct from each of the other subfactors. It just seemed like ‘‘the thing to do. separate principal components analyses were conducted on items within each of the four broad domains of Physical Reasons. I wanted the attention. My friends were having sex and I wanted to fit in.’’ I wanted to stop my partners’ nagging. I wanted to display submission. I was trying to ‘‘get over’’ an earlier person/relationship. I wanted to feel young.36 Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 Goal Attainment Emotional Insecurity –. The three Insecurity reasons were labeled Self-Esteem Boost.37 –.41 –. and Mate Guarding.39 –.36 –.37 –. The person demanded that I have sex with him/her.37 –. I wanted to feel older. and Experience Seeking. and Utilitarian.41 –. Six items had factor loadings < .40 –. and Insecurity Reasons. I felt rebellious. I was physically forced to. Each of the subfactors was relatively homogeneous within the factor.41 –.40 –. Emotional Reasons.33 –. I wanted to ‘‘possess’’ the person. I had no self-control.39 –. The two Emotional reasons subfactors were labeled Love and Commitment and Expression.41 –. I wanted to forget about my problems.31 .38 –.34 –. I wanted to ‘‘gain control’’ of the person. a two factor solution (51% of total item variance) for Emotional Reasons. After inspection of the scree plots. I wanted to keep my partner from straying. we examined two through five factor solutions. –.34 –.34 –.39 . thus providing a level within the taxonomy that was both psychologically and functionally inclusive. Social Status.34 –. Revenge. I wanted to prevent a breakup.’’ I wanted to make the person feel better about herself/himself. I felt sorry for the person. The Goal Attainment subfactors were labeled Resources. The best fitting solutions were a four factor solution that accounted for 47% of the total item variance for Physical Reasons. I wanted to submit to my partner. I wanted to feel feminine. Pleasure. Physical Desirability. I wanted to manipulate him/her into doing something for me.37 –.

I wanted to satisfy a compulsion. The person flattered me. I was bored.35 .49 .54 Pleasure Physical Desirability Experience Seeking 491 It would allow me to ‘‘get sex out of my system’’ so that I could focus on .67 . I could brag to other people about my sexual experience. I wanted to achieve an orgasm. I was the person naked and could not resist. The person smelled nice.42 . I wanted to release tension. The person was really desired by others.43 .30 –.61 –.47 –.55 . I am a sex addict.53 –.54 . –. It feels good.34 . I was ‘‘in the heat of the moment. on marijuana or some other drug). I hadn’t had sex for a while. I wanted the pure pleasure.33 .33 . I wanted to experience the physical pleasure. I was under the influence of drugs.76 –. An erotic movie had turned me on I had not had sex in a long time. It’s fun.51 . The person had beautiful eyes.’’ I was attracted to the person. I’m addicted to sex.53 other things.’’ I wanted to make a conquest.55 –.39 .31 123 .59 .’’ It just happened.31 .89 –. I wanted to relieve ‘‘blue balls. It’s exciting.39 . adventurous. I was ‘‘horny.60 . .85 –. The person was too physically attractive to resist. I was sexually aroused and wanted the release.55 .50 . I was drunk..44 –.53 –.70 –. The person was ‘‘available.73 –. The person was a good dancer.62 –.66 –.70 –. The person’s physical appearance turned me on. The person had a desirable body.53 –.33 –. I thought it would relax me.75 –.73 –. The person wore revealing clothes. I thought it would make me feel healthy.45 –.43 . I wanted to see what it would be like to have sex while stoned (e.g.39 .Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 Table 5 Subfactor analyses of physical reasons for engaging in sexual intercourse Item Item Description Factor Stress Reduction 134 46 67 3 12 131 104 126 110 100 130 196 105 192 2 60 125 59 109 205 218 157 85 21 15 19 32 18 54 123 151 9 1 220 217 203 219 200 212 221 201 113 225 215 I was frustrated and need relief.54 –.35 –. It seemed like good exercise. I wanted to release anxiety/stress.75 –.64 –.57 .’’ The person had an attractive face. My hormones were out of control.

Four items were excluded from the composite scores because they were gender specific (i. . significant differences (at p < .47 –.89 for the Utilitarian and Resources subfactors. I wanted to experiment with new experiences. and Insecurity Factor scores.37 –. one in the Expression. and female samples.35 –. I wanted to see what all the fuss is about. independent samples t-tests were conducted on each of the factor and subfactor composites. I was curious about my sexual abilities. In the female sample. 123 .. I wanted to lose my inhibitions.62 –. I wanted the experience.’’ I wanted to feel feminine.70 for the Revenge subfactor to .36 –.64 –.005) were found between men and women on each of the Physical.30 have been suppressed. two in the Pleasure. and Mate Guarding subfactors was eliminated from the composite scoring because the item was conceptually similar to another item within that composite (see Tables 5–8 for items included in the composites). I wanted to feel masculine. This yielded a total of 142 items. I wanted the adventure/excitement.34 Note: Factor loadings < . I wanted to act out a fantasy.85 for each of the Physical. and two in the Pressure subfactors were excluded from the composite calculations because they did not fit conceptually with the remaining items.’’ and ‘‘I wanted to relieve menstrual cramps’’). respectively. One item in each of the Utilitarian. I wanted to see what it would be like to have sex with another person. I was curious about what the person was like in bed.75 for the Self-Esteem Boost to . I was curious about sex. Stress Reduction.67 –. Composite analyses Gender differences in reasons for having sex Between gender.1 To begin examining the reliability of the condensed 142item Why Have Sex (YSEX?) questionnaire. indicating high internal consistency. five in the Utilitarian. The opportunity presented itself.58 –.51 –.52 –. and factor composite scores separately by gender and for the total sample (see Table 9). Self-Esteem Boost. Goal Attainment.83 for the Stress Reduction and Resources subfactors. I wanted to see whether sex with a different partner would feel different or better. one in the Love and Commitment. In each of the total. nine in the Self-Esteem Boost. I wanted to get the most out of life. At the subfactor level. Goal Attainment.41 –.33 Experience Seeking –.40 –. I wanted to try out new sexual techniques or positions. one in the Resources. I wanted to improve my sexual skills. values exceeded .77 to . two in the Revenge.48 –.e. three in the Social Status. subfactor values ranged from . male.49 –. The person was mysterious. four in the Physical Desirability. Cronbach’s coefficient alphas were calculated for each of the subfactors 1 The 142-item YSEX? Questionnaire is available from the corresponding author. In the male sample. Seven items in the Stress Reduction subfactor. Emotional. I was turned on by the sexual conversation.’’ ‘‘I wanted to relieve blue balls.30 –. in the combined sample.37 Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 Pleasure Physical Desirability –. and Insecurity subfactor composite and total scores. By contrast.73 –.70 –. ‘‘I wanted to feel masculine. values ranged from . subfactor alphas ranged from . there were no significant gender differences in frequency of endorsement on any of the Emotional composites or total factor score. As can be seen in Table 10.86 for Experience Seeking and Duty/Pressure subfactors.53 –.492 Table 5 continued Item Item Description Factor Stress Reduction 103 222 228 195 42 92 52 106 197 107 51 153 41 95 193 83 99 58 118 The person was too ‘‘hot’’ (sexy) to resist. Items bolded were included in the composite scoring not included in the composites.

It was a favor to someone.33 . I wanted to hurt an enemy. I wanted to be used or degraded.35 .57 .43 . My regular partner is boring.51 . It was an initiation rite to a club or organization. Someone dared me.’’ The person was famous and I wanted to be able to say I had sex with him/her.38 .48 .45 . so I had sex with someone else. I wanted to impress friends. The person offered me drugs for doing it.46 . I wanted to have more sex than my friends.44 . AIDS).g.49 . I wanted to get out of doing something.33 .33 . I was competing with someone else to ‘‘get the person. I wanted to get back at my partner for having cheated on me.41 .64 .47 .33 . The person had taken me out for an expensive dinner.61 .60 . I was mad at my partner so I had sex with someone else. The person had too much to drink and I was able to take advantage of them.40 .54 . I thought it would boost my social status. I wanted to make someone else jealous. I wanted to break up rival’s relationship by having sex with his/her partner.52 .57 . I wanted to get a promotion. My friends pressured me into it.33 .54 .Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 Table 6 Subfactor analyses of goal attainment reasons for engaging in sexual intercourse Item Item Description Factor 493 Resources Social Status Revenge Utilitarian 155 147 154 78 156 169 129 7 158 27 174 231 181 133 49 128 56 145 29 39 112 23 198 50 127 5 150 226 69 57 144 119 55 177 28 148 138 137 63 170 178 141 213 161 176 146 206 I wanted to get a raise.57 .48 ..34 .48 .77 .56 . I wanted to enhance my reputation. Because of a bet. Someone offered me money to do it.31 .60 . herpes. I was on the ‘‘rebound’’ from another relationship. I wanted to keep warm.40 .57 .57 . It would get me gifts.34 .69 .71 . I wanted to gain access to that person’s friends. . I wanted to breakup another’s relationship. I wanted to have a child.72 . I wanted to feel closed to God.’’ It would damage my reputation if I said ‘‘no. I wanted to make someone else jealous.59 . I wanted to end the relationship.38 .34 .61 . I wanted to even the score with a cheating partner.40 .33 . I wanted to hurt/humiliate the person. .47 . I wanted to reproduce. I wanted to make money. I was slumming.33 .34 .37 I wanted to give someone else a sexually transmitted disease (e.60 .35 . I wanted to burn calories.45 . I was afraid to say ‘‘no’’ due to the possibility of physical harm.34 .53 123 . I wanted to get even with someone. I wanted to get a job. I wanted to punish myself.36 .30 . I wanted to be popular.79 .

’’ I wanted to lift my partner’s spirits.83 –. I realized I was in love I wanted to get a partner to express love. The person had a lot of money. I felt jealous. I wanted to say ‘‘I’ve missed you.54 .58 .59 .72 . I wanted to test my compatibility with a new partner. I wanted to defy my parents.’’ I wanted to say ‘‘good bye. I wanted to change the topic of conversation.78 .31 Note: Factor loadings < .76 .37 .57 .32 .71 –.’’ I wanted to say ‘‘thank you. I wanted to express my love for the person.33 . It’s considered ‘‘taboo’’ by society.73 .58 .40 .67 . I wanted to get a special favor from someone. The person had bought me jewelry.30 have been suppressed.73 –. It seemed like the natural next step in my relationship. I wanted to increase the emotional bond by having sex. I wanted to welcome someone home.52 . I wanted to show my affection to the person.32 .e. I wanted to communicate at a ‘‘deeper’’ level.33 .55 .56 –.88 –.41 ..44 Expression Note: Factor loadings < .36 –. I thought it would help me to fall asleep. I wanted to put the passion back into my relationship. I wanted to intensify my relationship. intimacy).85 –.73 . I wanted to become one with another person.83 –.sexual thoughts are distracting. Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 Social Status Revenge Utilitarian .80 .50 . I wanted to relieve menstrual cramps.’’ I wanted to celebrate a birthday or anniversary or special occasion. I wanted to say ‘‘I’m sorry.50 . I wanted to get a favor from someone.30 have been suppressed.64 . Items bolded were included in the composite scoring Table 7 Subfactor analyses of emotional reasons for engaging in sexual intercourse Item Item Description Factor Love & Commitment 74 117 90 14 16 71 6 166 72 229 163 79 159 188 185 187 189 184 183 235 164 I wanted to feel connected to the person. I wanted to become more focused on work. . I wanted to keep my partner satisfied. I wanted to breakup my relationship. Items bolded were included in the composite scoring 123 . I wanted the person to feel good about himself/herself.494 Table 6 continued Item Item Description Factor Resources 173 160 108 208 182 162 167 190 171 143 192 168 101 214 199 I wanted to get rid of a headache. I desired emotional closeness (i. I wanted to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.59 .

I wanted him/her to stop bugging me about sex.73 . It was the only way my partner would spend time with me.32 .40 .’’ I was pressured into doing it.43 –. I wanted the attention.37 –. I was feeling lonely.38 495 Mate Guarding Note: Factor loadings < . I felt like it was my duty.’’ I wanted to keep my partner from straying. I wanted to get my partner to stay with me. I felt insecure.65 .86 .41 .81 –.30 have been suppressed.35 . I wanted to raise my self-esteem. I wanted to make myself feel better about myself.63 .50 .70 . I wanted to feel feminine.51 . –. I wanted to be nice. I was physically forced to. I wanted to feel attractive.49 .50 .32 .83 –. I wanted to manipulate him/her into doing something for me.45 .43 . I wanted to keep my partner from having sex with someone else.74 . I was verbally coerced into it.67 .58 –. I wanted to ensure the relationship was ‘‘committed.60 –.73 –.’’ I didn’t want to ‘‘lose’’ the person. My partner kept insisting. I felt guilty. I wanted to ‘‘gain control’’ of the person.74 –.74 . It just seemed like ‘‘the thing to do.42 .69 . It was expected of me.51 . I felt like I owed it to the person. I wanted to display submission. Items bolded were included in the composite scoring 123 . It was just part of the relationship ‘‘routine. I wanted to feel older. I was afraid my partner would have an affair if I didn’t have sex with him/her. I didn’t want to disappoint the person.63 –.73 .Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 Table 8 Subfactor analyses of insecurity reasons for engaging in sexual intercourse Item Item Description Factor Self-Esteem Boost Duty/ Pressure 65 180 172 139 179 237 43 194 70 66 233 36 40 76 136 45 64 34 86 81 47 132 53 25 48 77 22 17 24 121 84 80 73 94 89 4 122 175 140 111 165 91 38 61 26 62 I wanted to feel powerful.64 .30 .79 –.33 . I felt obligated to. I wanted to make my partner feel powerful.54 . I wanted to ‘‘possess’’ the person.47 . I was trying to ‘‘get over’’ an earlier person/relationship.47 .40 .59 . I felt rebellious. I felt sorry for the person. I wanted my partner to notice me.58 .70 .’’ I had no self-control.75 . I thought it would help ‘‘trap a new partner. I wanted to person to love me. I wanted to boost my self-esteem. I didn’t know how to say ‘‘no.40 . I wanted to decrease my partner’s desire to have sex with someone else I wanted to prevent a breakup.41 .

83 .70 .93 .74 . Consistent with the findings reported for women.80 . Consciousness.75 . By contrast. and Insecurity subfactor and total factor composites. and significantly positively related to the Love and Commitment subfactor and the Emotional total factor composite scores. was also significantly negatively associated with each of the Emotional subfactor composite and total scores. and total factor composite scores and with the Stress Reduction. and Neuroticism were the personality domains most associated with motivators for engaging in sexual intercourse.85 .72 . the Physical. As can be seen in Table 12.94 . We identified 237 123 .73 . with both the Expression subfactor and Emotional total factor scores being significantly positively related to SOI scores in women but not men. Whereas in women.94 . Utilitarian. but not Conscientiousness. among women.81 .82 .86 . in contrast to that seen in women. Extraversion was not significantly related to any of the subfactor or total factor composite scores. and Insecurity reasons total composite scores were all significantly positively correlated with SOI composite scores for both men and women with only two exceptions among men (Experience Seeking and Mate Guarding). Goal Attainment. Neuroticism was significantly positively associated with each of the Insecurity subfactor. and Love and Commitment subfactor composites. Pearson product-moment correlations were conducted between SOI composite scores and each of the subfactor and total factor scores.77 Physical Stress Reduction Pleasure Physical Desirability Experience Seeking Goal Attainment Resources Social Status Revenge Utilitarian Emotional Love and Commitment Expression Insecurity Self-Esteem Boost Duty/Pressure Mate Guarding 45 12 8 10 15 47 15 11 10 11 19 12 7 31 9 13 9 Note: Internal consistency scores are Cronbach’s coefficient alphas Personality and reasons for having sex Within gender. Experience Seeking.82 . Revenge. with one exception (Pleasure and Extraversion).87 .84 .83 . the general pattern of correlations was similar for men and women. Agreeableness.83 Women N = 835–895 . That is. together these three domains were associated with only two subfactor composite scores (Love and Commitment with Agreeableness.81 .87 .71 . Mating strategies and reasons for having sex Within gender.89 .86 .76 . Pearson product-moment correlations were conducted between each of the Big Five personality domains and each of the YSEX? subfactor and factor scores. Duty/Pressure with Conscientiousness) in men.82 .90 .83 .79 . Agreeableness and Conscientiousness were significantly negatively associated with each of the Physical. The general pattern of correlations between the Big Five personality domains and the YSEX? factors were strikingly different among men than that seen among women (see Table 11).91 .79 .80 .76 .87 .82 . As can be seen in Table 11.76 .79 Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 Men N = 355–393 . Agreeableness.81 .77 . Discussion The purpose of the present study was to provide a comprehensive investigation into the multitude of reasons why people engage in sexual intercourse.95 . Also.86 .80 .80 .91 .86 .496 Table 9 Internal consistency of the 142 item YSEX? Factor and subfactor items Factor Subfactor Number of Items Combined N = 1190–1288 .94 .89 .87 . Gender differences emerged with Emotional reasons. neither Extraversion nor Openness were significantly related to any of the subfactor or total composite scores in women. Goal Attainment. Openness was significantly negatively related to the Social Status subfactor.93 .77 .

* p £ .08 .51 1.08* .00* –6.04 .01 Note: * p £ .04 .12 1.08* .05 N .11** –.11* .02 .13** –.09 –.46 2.16** .15** –.02 .01 .08 –. ** p£ .07 –.59 .26 .50 1.03 .12** –.11** .16** –.19** –.04 .62 .45 SD .09** .51 .66 .24* –4.12* .48 .04 .01 .13** C –.11** –.45 .03 –.16** –.07* –.09 –.50 .17** –.65 –5.93* –4.27 1.04 O .79 1.04* –4.50 1.00 .03 .08 .02 –.07 .00 .26 .50 .03 .14** .09 –.11** –.10** –.06 –.04 .03 Women E .05 –.07 .13** –.04 –.16 –3.05 .01 –.55 .69* –5.07 –.04 –.66 1.07 .05 .03 .25 1.08 .21 Table 11 Correlations between YSEX? Composites and Big Five personality domains Item Men E Physical Total Stress Reduction Pleasure Physical Desirability Experience Seeking Goal Attainment Total Resources Social Status Revenge Utilitarian Emotional Total Love and Commitment Expression Insecurity Total Self-Esteem Boost Duty/Pressure Mate Guarding .31* –5.25 –.03 –.45 .07 .07 .05 –.63 –2.10** .33 1.17 –.74 .66 .01 –.61 .09* –.43 –.03 .53 1.13 1.50 1.03 –.01 –.06 .02 .001.14** –.42 1.51 Men Mean 1.13 –.65* –1.05 –.54 .57 SD .18** –.23 –.09 –.98 1.06 –. Labels are extraversion (E).26 –.03 A –.00 –.06 A .02 .14** –.09** –.03 –.02 –.41 .75 .54 .39 1.48 .04 .59 1.13** –.02 .13** –.31 1.Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 Table 10 Gender differences in YSEX? Factor and subfactor scores Factor Subfactor Women Mean Physical Stress Reduction Pleasure Physical Desirability Experience Seeking Goal Attainment Resources Social Status Revenge Utilitarian Emotional Love and Commitment Expression Insecurity Self-Esteem Boost Duty/Pressure Mate Guarding Note: Absolute range.05 –.60* –4.02 –.93 2.64 2.07 –.03 .00 .04 .18** –.02 .02 –.07 .48* –2.09 .06 .03 .00 .03 –.09* N . and openness to experience 123 .74 1. neuroticism (N).00 .04 –.04 –.58 .07 .03 –.04 –.13** –.24 .02 –.13** –.09* –.09 –.02 .06 –.01 –.16** –. conscientiousness (C).02 –.04 .06 –.53 .23 1.16 1.03 C –.08* .69 .41 .57 .45 1.00 .02 .59 .35 –.11* –.12 –.62* –3.77 1.01 –.85 1.12** –.08* .05 .06 –. agreeableness (A).14** O .51 .71* –3.15** –.16** –.02 .02 .04 .15** .86 2.07 –.05 –.02 –.35 1. 1–5.06 1.43 –.06 –.21* –6.09 –.05.08 .93 1.03 .26 –.31 .05 .34 –.06 .09** .45 .10** .58 .14** .11** –.07 .31 –.12** –.16* t 497 d –.98 –1.07 .56* –5.02 –.07 .03 –.02 –.21 –.16** .04 –.03 .03 .31 –.005 1.41 .01 –.36 1.03 .01 –.40 1.35 –.06 –.05 –.

others have sex to inflict costs on their enemies (e. 1989). ‘‘It feels good’’) to the spiritual (e.23** .21** . the consequences for the ‘‘recipient’’ can be tragic. romance. if taken at face value.00 –. Finally.22** .25** . emotional closeness.. 2003. in addition to causing breakups. By examining potential differences at both the item and factor level.08 . and be further spread to other sexual partners. love.20** .g. These were common experiences that may reflect a fundamental universal core of human sexual motivation–a notion that requires cross-cultural research to test. It provided an expanded understanding of the number and psychological complexity of reasons that people believe motivate them to have sex. 1996). many low base-rate reasons have momentous consequences for the individuals who experience them. a common motivation. 1992).23** . the sex act can cost the recipient his or her life.26** . Having herpes can jeopardize existing relationships. First. The current research made several contributions to knowledge about human sexuality. Some have sex to impress their friends. Romantic breakups are among the most psychologically painful life events and can rupture friendships others had with the couple (Buss..21** . It provided an organized taxonomy of major factors. Having sex with another’s partner and then revealing that fact to the partner is indeed a successful means of causing a breakup. In extreme cases.20** . adventure.24** .02 Women .34** . If the reason for wanting to break up the other’s relationship is motivated by mate poaching. herpes. is one of the leading causes of violence within mateships (Wilson & Daly.33** .18** .. Each of these contributions will be examined in turn.’’ Infidelity within the context of a committed romantic relationship is one of the most frequently cited reasons for relationship dissolution worldwide (Betzig.14** .. cause reputational damage.05.g.31** . Of these. ‘‘I wanted to break up a rival’s relationship’’).21** .g. Consider. excitement. its consequence could be large in magnitude.13** . The psychological complexity of motivations for sex The current research provided perhaps the most comprehensive exploration to date of the reasons people express for having sexual intercourse.02 –. Although the desire to give someone else a STD may rarely motivate sex. it provided a more thorough description of gender differences in the reasons for engaging in sexual intercourse than that provided by previous research. so carriers are carriers for life.498 Table 12 Correlations between YSEX? Composites and Sociosexual Orientation Inventory Item Physical Stress Reduction Pleasure Physical Desirability Experience Seeking Goal Attainment Resources Social Status Revenge Utilitarian Insecurity Self-Esteem Boost Duty/Pressure Mate Guarding Emotional Love and Commitment Expression * p £ . AIDS). others have sex to debase themselves. They ranged from the mundane (e.13** . may be no less important than the commonly endorsed reasons. Some have sex to feel powerful. The less frequently endorsed reasons for having sex. Another example of a potentially important. 2005). They ranged from altruistic (e. although sex motivated by the reason ‘‘I wanted to get back at my partner for having cheated on me’’ was endorsed infrequently. ‘‘I wanted to feel closer to God’’). and opportunity.g. If the sexually transmitted disease is HIV. but infrequently cited. the desire to please.g. connection. celebration. 142 reasons were clearly represented by four broad factors and 13 subfactors (see Tables 5–8).11** Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 distinct reasons why people have sex.07 . the least frequently endorsed reason for having sex by women (the third least for men) in Table 2: ‘‘I wanted to give someone else a sexually transmitted disease (e. Hatfield & Rapson. it provided links between stable individual differences in the sexual strategies that individuals pursue and the reasons they express for having sex. pleasure. based on factor analyses conducted on a large sample of participants. There is no cure for herpes. for example. ** p £ .. Sexual infidelity and the jealousy it provokes. affection. The frequently endorsed reasons for having sex.19** ..25** .’’ Although this desire may motivate only one out of a hundred or thousand sex acts. it can lead to murder (Buss. even if they are not widely shared by most people. then the consequences of this one act cascade even wider. pair of reasons for having sex was ‘‘I wanted to 123 . ‘‘I wanted the person to feel good about himself/ herself’’) to manipulative (e.14** .27** . ‘‘I wanted to get a promotion’’). arousal.001 Men .13* . Similarly. however.17* . experience. reflect what motivates most people most of the time–attraction.14** . its impact can destroy lives. Consider another infrequently cited reason for having sex: ‘‘I wanted to break up a rival’s relationship by having sex with his/her partner.g.14** . curiosity.10 –. when it does.09** .

’’ and ‘‘The person had an attractive face. When examining endorsement frequency of reasons for having sex. men and women were remarkably similar in that 20 of the top 25 reasons given were identical for men and women. humiliation. Herman. The second instrument contained the highest loading markers for the 13 subfactors. and post-traumatic stress disorder that can last months or years. grief. The current research highlights the number.’’ Using sex to obtain jobs and promotions can be illegal and can create unfairness in the workplace by displacing more qualified candidates who are unwilling to exchange sex for positional advantage. For some. No previous taxonomies. Nolan. as used in this study. endorsed reasons centering on the physical appearance and physical desirability of a partner. It can damage reputations. and Wallen (2004) 2 Available from the corresponding author upon request. it provides a preliminary taxonomy on which future researchers can build. As noted in a different context. This taxonomy contained four broad factors at the highest level: Physical. Hill & Preston. Although it would be premature to claim that the current taxonomy is comprehensive. forced sex proved to be the single most upsetting event for women (Buss. cause relationships breakups.. sadism or masochism defines their principal sexual mode of being. mate guarding.’’ But for some people. for nearly every reason. When examining the most frequently cited reasons for having sex. however. Taxonomy of major motivations for sex The current study also provided a hierarchical taxonomy of factors motivating sexual intercourse. It also provides a useful starting point for researchers who wish to build upon the present taxonomy to develop an even more comprehensive taxonomy of sexual motives. if they ever do. 2005). For example. 1996). however.g. 1979). Symons. Goal Attainment. and Insecurity. indicating that it was the most frequent reason for having sex in their lives. Most people are not motivated by the desire to humiliate another or to feel humiliated by another through sex. however. Some of these subfactors–love and commitment. One person’s seemingly trivial reason for having sex might well be another person’s magnificent obsession. and can create psychological scars that take years to heal. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging.’’ These findings support the evolution-based hypothesis that men tend to be more sexual aroused by visual sexual cues than are women. Another infrequently cited pair of reasons for having sexual intercourse. Indeed. which can be summed with unit weighting to yield 13 scores. significantly more than women. such as revenge. substantial gender differences emerged such that men reported substantially higher frequencies than did women for the majority of individual items and subfactors. Research instruments of reasons for having sex The current study provided two research instruments that could be used by future investigators. such as ‘‘The person had a desirable body. 1989b. since physical appearance provides a wealth of cues to a woman’s fertility and reproductive capacity (Buss. is among the most psychologically traumatic events a person can experience. This 142 item instrument will be most useful for researchers who wish to include an assessment of the major motives for sex as part of their research design within the context of a broader empirical study. physical pleasure. ‘‘I was physically forced to’’ and ‘‘I was afraid to say ‘no’ due to the possibility of physical harm’’ also warrant mention. Hamann. It is important to note that what constitutes a rare reason for the population as a whole might nonetheless constitute a frequent motivation for a subset of individuals within the population. and complexity of the many motives impelling human sexuality. otherwise known as rape.Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 499 get a promotion’’ and ‘‘I wanted to get a job. include many of the factors. 123 . some individuals gave it the highest rating. causing depression. Forced sex. At a minimum. Within each of these broad factors resided subfactors that were in many ways more meaningful than the broader clusters. It can devastate a person emotionally. Men. personal projects can range from ‘‘trivial pursuits’’ to ‘‘magnificent obsessions’’ (Little. and resources. most people are not motivated to have sex in order to ‘‘get closer to God. In one study of 147 things members of the opposite sex do that evoke anger and upset. it is reasonable to suggest that it is the most comprehensive taxonomy of motives for having sex yet proposed. It also may prove useful as an assessment instrument for sex therapists who seek an assay of their client’s current psychological state regarding sexual motivation. Emotional. This broad-based similarity provides an important background context for interpreting gender differences. this has become their cardinal motivation.2 The first was the original research instrument containing all 237 reasons for having sex. 1989a). even within this rather homogeneous sample of college students.’’ ‘‘The person’s physical appearance turned me on. Gender differences in reasons for having sex The current research provided the most comprehensive examination to date of gender differences in expressed reasons for engaging in sexual intercourse. This will be optimal for researchers who wish to capture all of the breadth and detail contained in the individual items. subtlety. 2003. stress reduction–have been documented by previous researchers (e.

more than men. Thus. for example. the Love and Commitment and Expression subfactors were the only two of 13 subfactors that were not endorsed with significantly more frequency among men than women. Symons. Two clusters of sex differences were not specifically predicted by any existing theories. & Buss.’’ These findings are consistent with previous research (e. Duntley.’’ ‘‘to get a favor from someone. Leary & Downs. Carroll et al. and having multiple partners or highly desirable sex partners is one means of increasing social status (Buss. in endorsing items related to pure physical pleasure. research on college populations suggests these patterns still exist. use sex to obtain special favors or treatment.. The theory of parental investment and sexual selection can also explain this overall gender difference. According to parental investment theory.’’ ‘‘I desired emotional closeness’’). prefer sex within the context of an ongoing committed relationship.’’ ‘‘The opportunity presented itself. 2003. One was that men more than women endorsed reasons for having sex that involved a variety of utilitarian functions. in contrast. Leigh. the reasons for having sex endorsed by women in this study may. 1972).’’ or ‘‘to improve my sexual skills. and feelings or expressions of love provide signals of that commitment (Buss.. Although the traditional roles of men as initiators of sexual interactions and women as ‘‘gate keepers’’ may be less a factor today then it was several decades ago prior to the influences of feminism and oral contraceptives. Conceptually related gender differences were identified by Hill and Preston (1996).. In fact. these findings were consistent with the empirical data that suggest that men who are actually or effectively polygynous are granted higher social status. there may be reciprocal links between sex and status–higher status gives men greater sexual access to multiple partners. because it felt good.500 Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 provided neurophysiological support for this notion when they reported greater activation of the amygdala and hypothalamus to visual sexual stimuli in men than in women. in part. If it is the case that a substantial proportion of the time a woman engages in sexual intercourse it is the result of male initiation.’’ It is important to note.. They also support the evolution-based theory that women. such as ‘‘to change the topic of conversation. Men.’’ These findings support the theory that a major historical constraint on a man’s reproductive success has been the number of different women he can successfully inseminate. The finding that men endorsed most of the reasons for having sex with a substantially higher frequency than did women can be considered within the context of socially inculcated gender roles as well as the theory of parental investment and sexual selection. 1993. the theory explains why men express dozens of reasons for having sex at a higher frequency than do women and why men might initiate sex more frequently than women (see also Baumeister & Vohs. 1998). females were significantly more likely than males to endorse the item ‘‘It is unnatural for the female to be the initiator in sexual relations’’ (Meston. 2003). the low investing sex (in this case men) are predicted to compete more vigorously for members of the high investing sex (in this case women) (Trivers. Women incur more obligate minimum investment to produce a child (nine month pregnancy versus one act of sex). that most of the emotional motivations for engaging in sex were not endorsed more frequently by women (e. This finding supports a growing body of clinical evidence suggesting that both men and women at times desire intimacy and emotional connectedness from sexual activity. in part. is predicted to be more choosy or discriminating in their choice of sexual partners. 1985. Also supporting this theory were findings that suggest sex without emotional involvement was a more powerful motivator for men than for women. 1979). Women exceeded men in endorsing certain of the emotional motivations for sex. reflect their sexual opportunities as well as their underlying desires. establishing bragging rights. Examples include ‘‘The person was ‘‘available. Shackelford. In a study of sexual attitudes among 702 undergraduate students. Trapnell. more than men. 1998). 2004).g. however. 1995).. 1989). or simply because they were ‘‘horny. also endorsed reasons indicating experience seeking and mere opportunity. ‘‘I wanted to feel connected to the person’’. the Hill and Preston (1996) findings accord with the findings of the current study on status enhancement as a male motive for sex. Schmitt. to track social status (e. and this selection pressure has led men to have evolved a greater desire for a variety sexual partners (Buss & Schmitt. Schmitt et al. It also helps to explain why parents might socialize their daughters to be more sexually restrained and 123 . such as wanting to achieve an orgasm. That is. & Gorzalka. Another cluster of gender differences not specifically predicted involved enhancement of social status–boosting reputation.g.’’ and ‘‘I wanted to increase the number of partners I had experienced. In other words.g. significantly more than women. Townsend.’’ These findings contradict the stereotype that women. and desiring to tell friends that they had sex with someone famous. Denney et al.. 2003. 1984. Nonetheless. such as ‘‘I wanted to express my love for the person’’ and ‘‘I realized that I was in love. ‘‘I wanted to intensify my relationship. The high investing sex. Men exceeded women. On the assumption that self-esteem or feelings of personal power are psychological mechanisms designed. as well as explaining why these gendered ‘‘roles’’ exist to begin with. then this would necessarily impact both the frequency and ordering of reasons why a woman has sex. Tooke. 2001. who found that men were more motivated than women to have sex in order to enhance their feelings of personal power.

comparable in age to that used in the present study. The lack of a significant relation between Extraversion and reasons for having sex noted in the present study is somewhat surprising given that past research has noted relations between this personality dimension and unrestrained sexuality (Gangestad & Simpson. As such. experience-seeking. Trapnell. of course. while the high social desirability of other reasons (e. Greiling & Buss. presenting a favorable sexual image involved acting in a sexually restrained manner. Interestingly.e. and reproduction would be inconsistent with societal expectancies. to give someone a sexually transmitted disease) may have lowered response rates to these reasons. If having sex (and lots of it) is something that society and evolution have deemed successful men do (i.g. and Paulhus (1998) reported that impression management played a role in self-reported sexuality even under anonymous and confidential testing conditions identical to that used in the current study. 1990). Heiman. The strongest correlates of the SOI for women involved the physical composite–stress reduction. Social desirability effects may have also played a role by exaggerating the tendency for men to report significantly more reasons for having sex than women (or conversely. disagreeableness (a trait linked to coldness and dominance) was strongly associated with each of the subfactors for having sex. to punish a partner. High scorers on the SOI express attitudes favorable to casual sex and also report behaviors indicative of having engaged in casual sex. 1993). Thus.. Their findings suggested that for females. Perhaps. These findings add to a growing body of literature supporting the validity of the SOI. 1990. Sexual strategies. but this doesn’t mean her reasons for doing so are varied. it was not surprising that high scorers on the SOI tended to endorse many more reasons for having sex than low scorers. she would necessarily need to be less concerned about social dictates and this might reflect an underlying cold and dominant personality style. personality. it cannot capture motivations that lie outside of awareness. for women to under-report reasons for having sex). however. may be linked to evolved gender differences in sexual strategies. in order for a woman to do so. then acting in this manner would be consistent with societal expectations for men. For women. Reasons for engaging in sexual intercourse undoubtedly differ by age cohort and level of sexual functioning.. it dealt with expressed reasons for having sex. to make money. agentic. This form of impression management. but not for males. Findings from a study conducted on 501 undergraduate students revealed that disagreeable. with the notable exception of having sex for reasons of love and commitment. then. and would be expected to change over the lifespan. We would also expect having sex out feelings of duty or guilt to be 123 . to show affection) may have raised response rates to these reasons.. it is important to bear in mind that there are substantial individual differences within each gender.. Future research could profitably explore other stable individual differences and how they relate to reasons for engaging in sexual intercourse. First.e. That is. physical desirability. unconscientious women were more sexually experienced and more likely to engage in unrestrained sexual behaviors (e. such as resources and revenge. 1990). Extraversion is related to a woman’s sexual experiences but not her reasons for having sex. reputations involving sexual promiscuity damage women’s more than men’s mate value (Buss.Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 501 their sons to be less sexually restrained—a tendency that appears to be universal across cultures (Low. The current study had a number of limitations that warrant consideration. Second. endorsing reasons for having sex other than love. & Gorzalka. In support of this explanation. and women who pursue a short-term mating strategy are especially likely to initiate sex (Gangestad & Simpson. For example. In a large sample of university students. the strongest correlate for men was the tendency of high SOI scorers to endorse having sex in order to extract revenge on someone. A third limitation pertains to the relative youth of most of the sample. and pure physical pleasure. The strongest correlates of the SOI for men involved stress reduction and the goal attainment factors. The finding that relations between personality variables and reasons for having sex were much more apparent for women than for men is noteworthy. a woman who is extraverted may be more likely to seek out many sexual experiences and partners than an introverted woman. Meston. and to report doing so. females should be more restrained than males). the low social desirability of some reasons (e.. Trapnell.g. A gender-role perspective might explain this finding in terms of differences in the gender appropriateness of sexual constraint (i. Thus. and reasons for having sex The SOI can be viewed as a measure of individual differences in sexual strategies (Gangestad & Simpson. Nonetheless. The finding that the Big Five personality traits of Agreeableness and Conscientiousness were negatively related to reasons for having sex in women is consistent with past research. we would expect having sex for reproductive purposes to be endorsed much more frequently among 30 year to 40 year olds and having sex simply to gain social status to decline with age. compared with the student sample assessed in this study. with those tending toward a short-term mating strategy scoring high and those tending toward a long-term mating strategy scoring low. 2000). higher number of lifetime sexual partners) than were agreeable women (Meston.g. commitment. powerful. 2003). competent). to express love. 1989).

A fourth limitation is that the study was conducted within a single culture. Do the 13 major clusters found in the current study replicate across cultures? Do they describe a universal core of human sexual motivation? To what extent do the reasons for having sex change across the life span? Do low base-rate reasons. human sexuality is motivated by a complex and multifaceted psychology. 123 . or to debase oneself have a large impact that is disproportionate to their relative infrequency of occurrence? Are there important reasons for having sex beyond the 237 identified in the current study? As such. Examining such patterns in different populations is an important direction for future research. future research could fruitfully conduct parallel studies in diverse cultures. The taxonomy presented in the current study opens up several new avenues for important future research. such as having sex to break up another’s relationship. to transmit a disease. Efforts to reduce sexual motivation to a small number of variables are doomed to fail (Hill & Preston. 1996). the current research is merely one step in the scientific agenda to understand the nuances and psychological complexity of human sexuality. In summary.502 Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 much more frequently endorsed by individuals who experience clinically low levels of sexual desire than by college students.

7. I wanted to release anxiety/stress. It’s exciting. I hadn't had sex for a while. 6. I wanted the pure pleasure. 2. 25.e. 10. sexual intercourse) for many different reasons.. 9. It would allow me to “get sex out of my system” so that I could focus on other things. 14. then you would circle “3” beside question 4. 19. I am a sex addict. 29. 23. 18. It feels good. The person had beautiful eyes. 26. if about half of the time you engaged in sexual intercourse you did so because you were bored.Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 503 Appendix YSEX? People have sex (i. I was curious about sex. 2 A few of my sexual experiences Item Description I was frustrated and needed relief. 20. 27. For example. 28.” It’s fun. I saw the person naked and could not resist. 8. 11. I was bored. use the following scale to indicate what the likelihood that each of the following reasons would lead you to have sex. I wanted to experience the physical pleasure. I was “horny. The person wore revealing clothes. The person was a good dancer. 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 Some of my sexual experiences 4 Many of my sexual experiences 5 All of my sexual experiences Rating 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 123 . I thought it would relax me. I thought it would make me feel healthy. 32. I wanted to achieve an orgasm. I was “in the heat of the moment. I was curious about my sexual abilities. The person’s physical appearance turned me on. The person was too “hot” (sexy) to resist. 4. The person had a desirable body. 15. If you have not had sex in the past.” The person had an attractive face. I have had sex in the past because… 1 None of my sexual experiences Item # 1. 21. 3. Please indicate how frequently each of the following reasons led you to have sex in the past. It seemed like good exercise. The person was too physically attractive to resist. 16. 24. 12. I wanted to satisfy a compulsion. 31. 13. 5. adventurous. I wanted to release tension. Below is a list of some of these reasons. The person smelled nice. 30. I’m addicted to sex. 22. 17.

78. The opportunity presented itself. 41. I wanted to make money. 79. 42. 65. I wanted to enhance my reputation. I wanted to give someone else a sexually transmitted disease (e. I wanted to get a raise. I wanted to punish myself. I wanted the adventure/excitement. 63. I wanted to get a job. I was mad at my partner so I had sex with someone else. I wanted to see what it would be like to have sex with another person. It was an initiation rite to a club or organization. 40. I wanted to make someone else jealous. Someone offered me money to do it. It was a favor to someone. 72. Someone dared me. I wanted to feel closer to God. I wanted to be popular. I wanted to have a child. I wanted to get even with someone. 75. 59. I wanted to even the score with a cheating partner. I wanted to try out new sexual techniques or positions. 49. 39. 67. herpes. 36.” It would damage my reputation if I said “no. 70. 77. I wanted to have more sex than my friends. My friends pressured me into it. I was competing with someone else to “get the person. I was curious about what the person was like in bed. 47. 76. 62. I wanted to see whether sex with a different partner would feel different or better. 69. I wanted to get back at my partner for having cheated on me. 80. 74. 56. The person offered me drugs for doing it. I was on the “rebound” from another relationship. 46. 37. I wanted to get the most out of life. I thought it would boost my social status. 58. I wanted to hurt/humiliate the person. 81. 60. 48. 55. I wanted to breakup another's relationship. I wanted to hurt an enemy. 35. 68. I wanted to lose my inhibitions. I wanted to impress friends. 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 123 .” The person was famous and I wanted to be able to say I had sex with him/her. 66. 52. 45. 73. I wanted to break up rival’s relationship by having sex with his/her partner. I wanted to end the relationship. I wanted to get a promotion. I wanted the experience. I wanted to see what all the fuss is about. 34.g. 38.504 Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 33. AIDS). 53.. I wanted to experiment with new experiences. (27) I wanted to reproduce. I wanted to act out a fantasy. 43. 50. 54. 57. 71. 64. 51. I wanted to make someone else jealous. 44. I wanted to improve my sexual skills. I wanted to be used or degraded. 61.

I felt guilty. 133. My partner kept insisting. I desired emotional closeness (i. 90. I wanted to become more focused on work – sexual thoughts are distracting. 94. I was physically forced to. I wanted the attention. I realized I was in love. 103. 126. 120. 87. I was verbally coerced into it. 118. 121.” I wanted to lift my partner’s spirits. I wanted to get a favor from someone. It seemed like the natural next step in the relationship. I wanted to “gain control” of the person.” I wanted to say “thank you. 83. I thought it would help me to fall asleep. 130. 112. 101. I wanted to express my love for the person. I wanted to keep warm. 122. 117. 88. 125. I felt like I owed it to the person. 114.” I wanted to celebrate a birthday or anniversary or special occasion. 105. 98. I felt like it was my duty. I felt obligated to. 92. 119. I wanted to say “I’ve missed you. I didn’t know how to say “no.” I wanted to say “goodbye. I wanted to defy my parents. I wanted to burn calories. I wanted to communicate at a “deeper” level. 96. I didn’t want to disappoint the person. 89.Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36:477–507 505 82. 95. 111. It seemed like the natural next step in my relationship. 127. 110. I wanted to become one with another person.” I was pressured into doing it. I wanted him/her to stop bugging me about sex. I wanted to get a partner to express love. I wanted to show my affection to the person. I wanted to increase the emotional bond by having sex. 99. I wanted to say “I’m sorry. I wanted to welcome someone home. 131. I felt insecure. 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 123 . 115. I wanted to manipulate him/her into doing something for me. I wanted to feel attractive. It was expected of me. I wanted to be nice. 132. 123. I wanted my partner to notice me. intimacy). I wanted the person to feel good about himself/herself. 108. I wanted to get out of doing something.. I wanted to boost my self-esteem. 102. I wanted to feel connected to the person. 86. 106. I wanted to make myself feel better about myself. 116. 100. I wanted to change the topic of conversation. I wanted to feel powerful. 104.e. 124. 97. I wanted to intensify my relationship. 107. I wanted to get rid of a headache. 128. 109. The person had taken me out for an expensive dinner. 129. 84. 113. 93. 85. 91.

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