Conventional wisdom suggests that having sex more often should lead to greater happiness–after all, as John Updike said (at least according to this article) “Sex is like money; only too much is enough.” Well, these authors set out to test whether that’s actually true. By studying the results of nationwide surveys and using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, they found that sex does make people happier…up to once a week, and only if they’re in a relationship. More often than that, and the effect plateaus (i.e., 4x a week has the same effect on happiness as 1x/week). Take that, Updike!
“Is it true that engaging in more frequent sex is associated with greater well-being? The media emphasizes—and research supports—the claim that the more sex you have, the happier you will feel. Across three studies (N ¼ 30,645), we demonstrate that the association between sexual frequency and well-being is best described by a curvilinear (as opposed to a linear) association where sex is no longer associated with well-being at a frequency of more than once a week. In Study 1, the association between sexual frequency and well-being is only significant for people in relationships. In Studies 2 and 3, which included only people in relationships, sexual frequency had a curvilinear association with relationship satisfaction, and relationship satisfaction mediated the association between sexual frequency and well-being. For people in relationships, sexual frequency is no longer significantly associated with well-being at a frequency greater than once a week.”