The arithmetic has by no means fairly make sense to researchers: On common, males report that they’ve had much more sexual companions than girls do. Since, mathematically talking, the sexes ought to report roughly the identical variety of previous companions, it’s at all times been a little bit of a thriller why there’s such a discrepancy. A brand new research in The Journal of Intercourse Analysis finds some explanations for the inconsistency, which, the authors write, “has lengthy vexed researchers and has underpinned issues in regards to the veracity of self-reported sexual conduct basically.”
The crew from the College of Glasgow needed to discover the discrepancy with a wholesome various pattern of individuals. Earlier research had typically used college students solely or high-risk populations, so it’s been laborious to inform how the final inhabitants compares. They used information from 15,000 individuals, aged 17 to 74, who answered questions on their previous sexual companions. It discovered, as others have, that males reported many greater than girls: 14 companions on common, whereas girls reported solely seven. However it additionally seemed on the variables that contribute to this discrepancy.
One cause behind the dichotomy is that males who reported excessive numbers reported extraordinarily excessive numbers—that’s, males within the 99th percentile of sexual companions reported 110 previous companions, the place girls’s highest numbers had been simply 50. Taking these outliers out of the equation diminished the gender hole considerably.
One other power contributing to the hole was the accounting methods women and men tended to make use of. Ladies had been extra more likely to truly tally up the precise quantity than males had been—males had been extra more likely to estimate, particularly when their numbers had been increased. However they even estimated extra ceaselessly when their numbers had been decrease. Their stories had been additionally extra more likely to finish in a 5 or a 0, particularly when the variety of companions they reported having was increased, which once more suggests there could also be some (over)estimating and rounding happening.
The third issue appeared to be the genders’ attitudes each towards one-night-stands and dishonest on a partner: Males had been considerably much less more likely to consider both was at all times improper, which may account for his or her reporting increased numbers.
So it looks as if there could also be a few issues at play: Males may very well have extra sexual companions than girls do, however they could additionally inflate the quantity by estimating or rounding extra typically than girls. The authors do level out that the gender hole has decreased barely lately, which can mirror altering attitudes about intercourse, which, they are saying, are “extra gender equal and tolerant of variety.” However the mechanisms outlined within the paper assist clarify why the remaining gender hole does exist.
The outcomes may additionally affect how surveys are written, to get individuals to present essentially the most correct estimates about their sexual histories, with out coming off as judgey. However for the remainder of us, the research simply supplies some fascinating perception into variations within the sexes—and the way they could view and bear in mind intercourse in a different way.