Useless Science: Sex and Happiness Are Associated

Useless Science: Sex and Happiness Are Associated 1

Brilliant new research indicates that older people are happier if they’re sexually active. That’s not surprising, but I’m shocked to see how little a difference sex makes.

In the new research, Smith and his colleagues examined data from nearly 7,000 U.K. adults ages 50 to 89. People self-reported how and how often they were having sex, and said how much they agreed with statements about their quality of life and well-being (such as “I enjoy the things that I do” and “I feel full of energy these days”). Based on their answers, each person was then assigned a total life enjoyment score on a 0-to-15 scale.

Adults who were sexually active tended to have higher total quality of life scores in general, as did those who reported feeling close to their partner. Sexually active men had average life enjoyment scores of 9.75, while those who were not sexually active had average scores around 9.44; for women, those ratings were 9.86 versus 9.67. These differences were small, but statistically significant enough to suggest an association.

The quality of life difference is small (around 3%!), and the study doesn’t determine whether sex causes happiness or happiness causes sex. Both are probably true. This study is stupid and the results are useless — you don’t need to survey seven thousand people to “suggest” that sex and happiness are “associated”.

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