7-Second Sex Stat Debunked

Cristen Conger

Just because he's daydreaming doesn't mean it's about sex.
Just because he's daydreaming doesn't mean it's about sex.
Sheer Photo, Inc/Getty Images

Ever been suspicious of that old saying about men thinking about s-e-x every 7 seconds? There's good reason to be because it's complete bunk.

First, if sex were to cross men's minds roughly 12,342 times every 24 hours, they'd get very little done (especially if the stereotype of male as less adept multitaskers is true). Also, there's no empirical evidence whatsoever that the average man constantly thinks about sex. The Kinsey Institute points to a 1994 studyon the frequency of sexual fantasy among men and women:

  • 54% of men think about sex everyday or several times a day, 43% a few times per month or a few times per week, and 4% less than once a month (Laumann, Gagnon, Michael, Michaels, 1994).
  • 19% of women think about sex everyday or several times a day, 67% a few times per month or a few times per week, and 14% less than once a month.

A 1990 study of sexual fantasies and urges among heterosexual men and women similarly discredits the "7 Second Rule". The self-reported data averaged out to a mere seven sex-related thoughts among men and 4.5 sex-related thoughts among women every day. But according to a recent study from Ohio State University, those figures are on the low end.

Psychologist Terri Fisher calculated a male sexy thoughts median at 18 times per day, and individual reports on sex-related thoughts among male participants ranged from 1 to 388 times per day. And you know what else guys think about roughly 18 times per day? Food, followed up by sleep.

So much for the one-track mind assumption.

Moreover, women aren't too far behind men in the steamy thoughts department. Their individual reports spanned 1 to 140 times per day, with a median 10 instances, to which Fisher commented:

"For women, that's a broader range than many people would have expected. And there were no women who reported zero thoughts per day. So women are also thinking about sexuality."

And as for the "7 Second Rule," Fisher attributes men's slightly higher frequency of sexual thoughts to possibly being more attuned to biological urges (i.e. sex, food, sleep). It doesn't support the notion that men are innately more sexually compelled:

"This suggests males might be having more of these thoughts than women are or they have an easier time identifying the thoughts. It's difficult to know, but what is clear is it's not uniquely sex that they're spending more time thinking about, but other issues related to their biological needs, as well."

(via Slate and Language Log)

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