Sexy seasonal searching

Is Spring (aka sex) really in the air? Well these researchers set out to find out how the season affects our Google searches. Turns out we are seasonal pervs.

Since you’re probs not gonna read the article yourself, let me summarize what we did know about seasons trends as they relate to sex, mating, and otherwise.

– American data shows a peak in abortions in January (likely due to a boom in bedroom activities over the holidays)

– Condom sales? They peak during Christmas week and during the summer months

– STI diagnoses show a post-Christmas and in the late summer/early fall peak.

And here is what we now know thanks to these researchers…

The researchers were interested in the following 3 areas (Prostitution, Pornography, Mate Seeking) and their corresponding words:

So these keywords were flagged based on US Google searches between January 2006 and March 2011. FYI – Other comparison word were used: pets, popular websites, car parts (tires, brakes, engine, etc)

The researchers used the Relative Search Volume Index (RSVI) which is reported as a percent increase (or decrease) for a keyword over a particular time period. So a RSVI of 2% means that a particular keyword was 2% higher than the norm for the time period of interest (e.g., -2% would = 2% lower than the norm for the time period).

So the researchers compiled monthly average RSVIs for porn, prostitution, and mate-seeking and then compared those over the entire period. Turns out, yup…there are some seasonal patterns here, folks.

Pornography = 4.28% increase above the mean for December and June.

Pornography

Pornography

Prostitution showed a 3% increase above the mean in January and July.

Prostitution

Prostitution

Mate-seeking = 5.67% increase above the mean in January and July.

Mate Seeking

Mate Seeking

What’s cool about this is that these % increases likely reflect thousands and thousands (if not millions) of additional Google searches for these keywords since it takes a lot of individual searches to affect the RSVIs.

Now if you wanna get really technical, here’s more evidence that there are 2 distinct periods for the year.

In terms of pornography, 16% of the searches are explained by seasonal searches. Prostitution = 24% and mate-seeking = 21%.

Searches about cats and cars? 2%

You pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down here?

= the season affects our sexy searches!

Not our searches about puppies and kittens. Well, maybe for just one type of kitty…

Apples ≠ Oranges

Simple answer for a complicated question (usually my questions are easy and my answers are complicated)…

My students claim to believe that opposites do attract. And that it’s always better to have someone who isn’t just like you. But what they are usually talking about is someone having complementary interests or likes that work with the stuff you like or the way you are.

But true opposites? Lots of research (hundreds of studies, actually) says that this just doesn’t fly well.

Simply put: we like people who confirm the way we think about things, the world, relationships, work, values, school, how to raise kids, what’s an acceptable amount of partying, how to train that puppy, how clean the house should be….the list goes on, right?

Because people who think about the world the way that we think about the world make us feel better. Yay.

Which brings me to the dogs.

Some fun researchers in California decided that we should really find out if dog owners look like their dogs. It turns out that yeah, people do look like their dogs – when their dogs are purebreds! The researchers replicated their dog research in a second study to make sure this wasn’t just a random finding. And yes, it turns out that random participants (who don’t know said dogs or owners) can match dogs with their owners quite well.

These aren’t the pictures used in this research, but you get the drift…

dogs

Like I tell my students, if you want to find people that are like you to date, hang out in places where people like you hang out.

Relationship TSN Turning Points 1

According to relationship research, there are two big types of turning points for relationships:

Reflective turning points – meeting partner’s family for the first time à sparks the discussion “Hey, what’s going on with us?”

Causal turning points – partner cheats on you and it sparks a different kind of discussion “Hey, we need to talk”

These are what I like to call a TSN Turning Point

According to relationship researchers, there are a number of stages to relationship development. Here is a hybrid version of the models:

Initiation (first impressions, light convo to see if person good fit for you)

Experimentation (partners try to find common interests/hobbies, most people never move beyond this stage because you might think “This person is boring, yo”)

Intensification (people ramp up disclosure to see what kind of impression they’re making once ‘dating’ has started happening, if the person introduces the other as their partner/boyfriend/girlfriend, does the other person lose their bananas? What happens when one of the partners goes away for the weekend? Do they stay in contact?)

“What’s going on between us?” (Often coincides with the condom conversation…hopefully!! If people were using them in the first place!!. So someone might say ““I’d really like to stop using condoms. Buuuuuut, that might mean we need to discuss where we are both at with things…are you seeing anyone else?”

And btw – the condo to go sans condom SHOULD be followed up with 2 other key questions: “When is the last time you were tested” and “How many sexual partners have you had since you were last tested?” = these are really really important questions!!!

Now, according to some relationship models, the sexual relationship would develop after the conversation about what is going on with us – but I think we all know that for many young adults that has changed and sex happens WAY before this convo. But back to the ‘model’….

Integration (two individuals start being known as a couple, do things together, only show up as a couple to social functions)

Bonding (people make a public commitment to other person – such as marriage or nowadays, a much more popular way to show you are legit in a relationship – being “in a relationship” with the person on Facebook). For more info on ‘becoming Facebook official, see this post by my colleague and BFF, Amy Muise 

So we’re all good right?

But then the bottom falls out…

(see the Break-Up post for the rest of the story)

Date or mate?

Does what you look for in a spouse or date differ? What about in a same-sex friend versus a cross-sex friend? This results from this study suggest, yes!

But how do we know this? 700 students (59% women, 41% men) were asked about their personal preferences for one of the following:

Spouse

Dating partner

Casual sex partner

Same-sex friend

Opposite-sex friend

Then, participants were asked to rank their preferences of the following personality traits from 1 (not at all attractive) to 9 (extremely attractive):

Physical attractiveness

Intelligence

Ambition

Warmth and kindness

Money or earning potential

Expressiveness and openness

Social status

Sense of humor

Exciting personality

Similar background

Similar interests/leisure activities

Complementary personal characteristics

What should make us feel warm and gooey inside is that regardless of the type of relationship, people reported that they wanted the following: warmth, kindness, expressiveness, openness, and sense of humour.

But when we start to do some comparisons, this is where we see some cool differences:

Casual sex partner versus date/mate

–       warmth, kindness, expressiveness, openness, sense of humour is desired for either. Why? People likely viewing casual sex partner as a potential long-term mate so they don’t differentiate too much.

–       When it comes to a casual sex partner, participants reported a preference for the person to be physically attractive and sexually experienced vs date/spouse

–       Here’s the bad news: it was less important for a casual sex partner to be intelligent or warm

–       Moral of the story: people will settle when it comes to casual dates (a pattern not seen when examining potential dates or longer-term mates)

Romantic/sexual partner versus friend

–       Compared to a friend, people wanted dates, spouses, casual sex partners to score high on extrinsic attributes – things like social status and  physical appearance. Guess the people you date say something about yourself.

–       People also desired that their romantic/sexual partners had humour, expressiveness, and warmth. Apparently, we care more about what our dating partners have vs our friends (which makes sense. Unless you’re sleeping with your friends).

Same-sex friend vs opposite sex friend

–      When it comes to our opposite-sex friends, we desire higher levels of physical attractiveness, intrinsic characteristics (warmth, kindness), and social status.

–       But why, you ask? People unconsciously (or consciously) recognize that reproduction is possible with a cross-sex friend so we still want our opposite-sex friends to have good mate traits. We likely view the friendship as stepping stone to romantic relationship.

So…when someone asks you to be their cross-sex friend, feel good about your physical attractiveness, warmth, kindness, and social status.