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Many Motives for Sex

Young CoupleNew research discovers people have sex for a multitude of reasons, a finding more complicated than the simple assumption that people have sex to experience sexual pleasure or to reproduce.

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin revealed hundreds of varied and complex motivations or reasons to have sex ranging from the spiritual to the vengeful.

Psychology researchers David Buss and Cindy Meston uncovered 237 motivations for sex, with their research appearing in the August issue of Archives of Sexual Behavior.

People’s motivations ranged from the mundane (“I was bored”) to the spiritual (“I wanted to feel closer to God”) and from the altruistic (“I wanted the person to feel good about himself/herself”) to the manipulative (“I wanted to get a promotion”).

Some said they had sex to feel powerful, others to debase themselves. Some wanted to impress their friends, others to harm their enemies (“I wanted to break up a rival’s relationship”).

Buss and Meston conducted two studies. In the first, they asked more than 400 men and women to identify reasons people have sex. In the second, the researchers asked more than 1,500 undergraduate students about their experiences and attitudes.

The Texas psychologists identified four major factors and 13 sub-factors for why people have sex:

  • Physical reasons such as to reduce stress (“It seemed like good exercise”), feel pleasure (“It’s exciting”), improve or expand experiences (“I was curious about sex”), and the physical desirability of their partner (“The person was a good dancer”).
  • Goal-based reasons, including utilitarian or practical considerations (“I wanted to have a baby”), social status (“I wanted to be popular”) and revenge (“I wanted to give someone else a sexually transmitted disease”).
  • Emotional reasons such as love and commitment (“I wanted to feel connected”) and expression (“I wanted to say ‘thank you’”).
  • Insecurity-based reasons, including self-esteem (“I wanted the attention”), a feeling of duty or pressure (“My partner kept insisting”) and to guard a mate (“I wanted to keep my partner from straying”).

“Why people have sex is extremely important, but rarely studied,” Buss said.

“Surprisingly, many scientists assume the answer is obvious, but people have different reasons for having sex, some of which are rather complex.”

Source: University of Texas at Austin

Many Motives for Sex

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Many Motives for Sex. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2007/07/31/motives-for-sex/1084.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.