Published: June 1, 2013 By

bedSex apparently is like income. People are generally happy when they keep pace with the Joneses and they are even happier if they get a bit more, according to a study by CU-Boulder associate professor of sociology Tim Wadsworth.

Using national survey data and statistical analyses, Wadsworth found that people reported steadily higher levels of happiness as they reported steadily higher sexual frequency. For instance, compared to those who had no sex in the previous year, those who reported a once-weekly frequency were 44 percent more likely to report a higher level of happiness. Those reporting sex two to three times a week were 55 percent more likely to report a higher level of happiness.

But he also found that after controlling for their own sexual frequency, people who believed they were having less sex than their peers were unhappier than those who believed they were having as much or more than their peers. How do people know how they compare to their peers in this private act? Wadsworth points to such magazines as CosmopolitanGlamourMen’s Health and AARP The Magazine that regularly report the results of their own or others’ sex surveys. Peer networks and television depictions also play a role.

“Having more sex makes us happy, but thinking that we are having more sex than other people makes us even happier,” Wadsworth says.

This piece is part of a longer story written by Clint Talbot (Jour’85) that appeared in the spring issue of the Colorado Arts & Sciences Magazine. Read it online at