November 20, 2010

Sex and the UW student.

Biochemistry student Charlie Gorichanaz conducted a fairly extensive survey of University of Wisconsin-Madison students. He got 3,190 responses (after emailing surveys to 38,812 students). There's lots of background on the methodology and many details and charts at the link. I'll just highlight a few things that seemed particularly interesting to me:
Gender preferences

Students were asked separately to which genders they are sexually and emotionally attracted....

Sexual attraction: Males were more likely to characterize their sexual attractions at the extreme ends of the spectrum. About 81.6 percent of males said they are completely straight with no exceptions, compared to 68.1 percent of females. Surprisingly, males were more than seven times as likely as females to say they are completely gay, with 3.1 percent versus 0.4 percent. Females were more than twice as likely as males to be at least somewhat bisexual, with 30.9 percent of females and 14.4 percent of males ranking somewhere between totally straight and totally gay. For sexual attraction, 17.5 percent of males said they were at least sometimes attracted to males, and 31.4 percent of females said they were at least sometimes attracted to females....

Emotional attraction: Females were a little more likely to be emotionally rather than sexually attracted to either gender at times, and males were more than twice as likely to be at times attracted to both genders emotionally. For emotional attraction, 37.4 percent of males said they were at least sometimes attracted to males, and 40.9 percent of females said they were at least sometimes attracted to females....
Here's a chart. [Chart #6.] I'm amused at the expression "at least two thirds straight." Time for some new slang!

There are some interesting questions about what students think is "wrong" — as summarized in these pie charts.  For example, is it wrong to have sex when you're not cheating on anyone but the other person is?
... 63.3 percent of respondents said it is wrong to take part in sexual acts with someone you know to be in a monogamous relationship, 24.8 percent said it is too complicated to answer and 2.2 percent were not sure. That leaves 9.7 percent who said being a party to someone else’s cheating is not wrong.
I'm impressed by how many people think this is wrong. But we're not surveying them at the point when they are making a decision whether or  not to do something they are intensely in the mood to do. I imagine human self-deception is at its height over this particular point of morality. But, at least, coolly examined, a big majority knows it's just wrong. The 24.8% "It's complicated" group deserve some credit for honesty. It gets exquisitely complicated when you're looking to justify your own behavior. But it's good to get the clear reading: It's wrong! ... Isn't it? What if.... It's wrong!

30 comments:

Quayle said...

The "its complicated' group is really the "its wrong but I resist the notion of something being wrong" group.

The Crack Emcee said...

My point all along:

We know what's wrong.

Most others bullshit us (or rather think they are) when it's convenient (or when they think it is) which makes their actions evil. Liberalism is just an excuse to join in. Which makes life hell.

Damn them all.

Ricardo said...

Obviously, the "it's complicated" group includes the people who have never had an orgasm. It's important to keep your focus on the goal, or you'll never get there. Thinking about it too much, gets in the way.

edutcher said...

Five will get you ten the 30% of females and the 15% of males who say they swing both ways and maybe 2% of the males who say they switch hit do so because it's cool among the Lefties.

Ann Althouse said...

It gets exquisitely complicated when you're looking to justify your own behavior. But it's good to get the clear reading: It's wrong! ... Isn't it? What if.... It's wrong!

When you're horny enough, you somehow forget about justification.

Lincolntf said...

It's interesting how the genetic imperatives purportedly encoded into people's very essences are in reality so amorphous and malleable. Almost like PC bull-crap is taking precedence over empirical data. But that would never happen.

1jpb said...

A good amount of manscaping going on at UW.

DaveW said...

A good amount of manscaping going on at UW.

That caught my eye too.

I'm a bit fuzzy on the idea of 'emotional attraction'. Is this just who do I like more, men or women?

MayBee said...

This is why its so stupid for gay people to get all upset over the "it's a choice!" argument. Clearly, it's complicated.

kylos said...

The article seems to gloss over the topic, but selection bias seems like an extremely significant concern for a survey regarding sexuality.

traditionalguy said...

What Crack said. But how does one tell sexual attraction apart from emotional attraction? Either one alone is like one hand clapping. I remember a distinction in scripture between "having sex" and "knowing a woman". But I must be handicapped because can never separate the two.

Ann Althouse said...

I've heard more than one law professor insist that the cheating – when it's the other person who's cheating — is entirely that person's responsibility to make a decision about. You are outside of the moral question and it's up to the other person to decide what to do and not for you to infringe on their very personal decision.

Female law professors, I should add.

bagoh20 said...

"It's wrong! ... Isn't it? What if.... It's wrong!"

Now you see, that's where discrimination starts. Some people are horny, and they were born that way. And don't touch my junk.

William said...

I think that if they took a survey of the sexual attitudes of people who don't want to answer sexual surveys, they would get markedly different results. It seems to me that platonic bestiality is vastly under-reported. On another thread, I just spent ten minutes looking at Pomerians putting on sweaters. It's dark. It's disturbing. But it's part of our humanity and we must learn how to deal with it.

PatCA said...

Yeah, people think it's wrong to cheat, but it all hinges on how one defines "a monogamous relationship."

"I didn't think we were exclusive"!

Paddy O said...

"I've heard more than one law professor insist that the cheating – when it's the other person who's cheating — is entirely that person's responsibility to make a decision about."

I assume they apply this to relationships, not tests or papers.

The recent article from the Chronicle of Higher Ed suggests that cheating on papers is even more accepted by students on campus.

Paddy O said...

"We know what's wrong."

I'm curious why we know this or why it's inherently wrong outside of societal preference. Or at least, I'm curious about how you say it's wrong given your thoughts on religion in general. I'm not being argumentative or whatever, I'm just curious about how you come to and hold this strong conclusion.

Paddy O said...

I strongly suspect that for most of those "it's complicated" there's probably a different answer to "is cheating wrong" depending on what side of the cheating they're on.

It's always wrong to be cheated on, it's complicated if I want to be cheating.

traditionalguy said...

So what are the penalties for seducing a married person to break their vows and become your soul mate? The courts and legislatures have recently thrown out the Alienation of Affections laws. But what curse does this activity cause? I doubt that it will all work out fine. Those issues may be why going after a married lover is a big deal.

b.s. said...

@ Althouse: "Female law professors, I should add."

I'm curious to know if those law professors have been a party to extramarital sex.

I also wonder if they think it's wrong to aid and abet a crime they consider to be immoral.

Bender said...

Female law professors, I should add.

I was going to mention if these law professors had never heard about "alienation of affections" or even interference with contractual relations -- that you are a third party is not a defense.

But just let them try saying, "hey, I'm only a third party, I'm morally innocent here," when they get caught in bed with someone else's husband/boyfriend/girlfriend, etc. See if that line works, or if the person that has been cheated on pulls out a gun and shoots them all.

They may have eliminated alienation of affections as a cause of action, and they may have reduced adultery down to a $10 civil infraction, but being cheated on is still serious enough to reduce murder down to manslaughter.

Jeff with one 'f' said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff with one 'f' said...

"I'm amused at the expression "at least two thirds straight." Time for some new slang!"

Philadelphians have an old expression for this category: "half a fag".

Jason (the commenter) said...

Althouse: I've heard more than one law professor insist that the cheating – when it's the other person who's cheating — is entirely that person's responsibility to make a decision about.

You should tell them about North Carolina.

David said...

"63.3 percent of respondents said it is wrong to take part in sexual acts with someone you know to be in a monogamous relationship"

Yeah, but it's only wrong once, under that theory.

Ralph L said...

Poor ironrails: 42% of women shaved completely, another third trimmed. Difficult to believe 10% of men shaved completely. How big is your swim team?

Marshal said...

"I imagine human self-deception is at its height over this particular point of morality."

Is this self deception? Or is it principle succumbing to human weakness?

Ambrose said...

People lie on sex surveys. This has been true since the Garden of Eden. "Nine out of ten men had multiple partners just last week; no one ever has any problems; no one ever does it alone; yada yada yada." Why do we even care what the latest sex survet says?

Fen said...

63.3 percent of respondents said it is wrong to take part in sexual acts with someone you know to be in a monogamous relationship

Echo what Crack said.

Yes, I know its wrong. But does that stop me from having crazy hot sex with a married gal?

Nope.

Fen said...

I've heard more than one law professor insist that the cheating – when it's the other person who's cheating — is entirely that person's responsibility to make a decision about. You are outside of the moral question and it's up to the other person to decide what to do and not for you to infringe on their very personal decision.

Female law professors, I should add.


All that proves is that most intelligent people will simply craft more complex justifications for their actions.

Although her's is a bit convoluted.

DADvocate said...

I think that if they took a survey of the sexual attitudes of people who don't want to answer sexual surveys, they would get markedly different results.

Working in marketing research, a 10% incidence rate is considered quite good for a survey of a group of students. But, your question is one I wonder about a lot. What kind of bias in introduced by the fact that all the data is from people who are willing to answer surveys? Our results are close enough to real world for our work, but I would expect more bias in a survey of sexual attitudes.