Men Tend to Overestimate the Number of Sexual Partners They've Had

A University of Alberta professor of psychology has learned men tend to overestimate the number of sexual partners they’ve had, and he’s come up with some interesting theories to explain why they do this. Psychology professor Dr. Norman Brown said while some people might conclude this happens because “men are pigs,” there is in fact, important information to be gathered from his survey of approximately 1,100 Albertans, who were asked to recall how many sexual partners they had had during their lives. From the University of Alberta:
Men Tend to Overestimate the Number of Sexual Partners they Have Had

Contact: Wanda Vivequin
780 492 3808
wanda.vivequin@ualberta.ca

A University of Alberta professor of psychology has learned men tend to overestimate the number of sexual partners they’ve had, and he’s come up with some interesting theories explain why the do this.

Psychology professor Dr. Norman Brown said while some people might conclude this happens because “men are pigs,” there is in fact, important information to be gathered from his survey of approximately 1,100 Albertans, who were asked to recall how many sexual partners they had had during their lives.

“Some would say men overestimate the number of partners they have had because they are pigs and like to boast and brag about their conquests,” Brown said.

“From my research over the last 20 years, I know there is much more to it than this,” he said. Brown works in the area of cognitive psychology and is interested in how people acquire, organize, and utilize real-world knowledge (i.e., facts about the world learned through experience).

In 1999, together with research partner Dr. Robert Sinclair, Brown surveyed University of Alberta students on the same question about numbers of sexual partners and came up with similar results. In this more recent survey, conducted with the help of the U of A Population Research Laboratory, a cross section of heterosexual men and women throughout Alberta were asked how many sexual partners they’ve had in their lives. After they answered this question, they were asked how they came up the number they gave.

When asked the question, ‘how many partners have you had in your lifetime?’, two-thirds of women said they knew precisely and reported an average of 6.2. Men on the other hand were twice as likely to say they had no idea and on average guessed 11.9.

Brown said this result was most interesting.

“Every time a man has sex with a woman, a woman has to have sex with a man. So either there are some very lucky joes out there or someone is not getting their numbers right,” Brown said.

By asking respondents how they came up with their number, Brown was able to work out what methods men and women were more likely to use when calculating the number of sexual partners.

He found that men were twice as likely as women to use a rough approximation method, while women were more likely to think about individual incidents and calculate the number this way. People who had had few sexual partners were the most likely to use the reasoning “I just know.”

It remains, however, unclear as to how male overestimation could result in such a wide disparity in the reported number of lifetime sexual partners. Brown has three theories, none of which are very flattering to men. One is that men cannot be bothered to remember individual lovers. The next is that men are lazy and have not got the patience to think seriously when answering a telephone poll, and the third one is his ‘Don Juan’ theory that there might in fact be a number of men in Alberta who have been, in Brown’s words, “lucky joes.”

Brown said his findings have applicability in a number of areas, including strategies for dealing with people who engage in high-risk sexual behaviour.

6 thoughts on “Men Tend to Overestimate the Number of Sexual Partners They've Had”

  1. I think the other comment about is correct… To clarify…

    It is a known fact that women, if they desire, can get a man into bed a lot easier than a man can get a woman into bed… Normally, however, the man is doing the trying…

    Now, imagine, if you will… a woman who is sexually promiscuous… She may have 20 or 30 partners before she is 30 years old (I know one like this).

    It only takes a few “active” women like this, to inflate men’s numbers to 11 or so on average… while many of her friends are sticking to 3 or 4 guys. The *average* woman will then have fewer partners than the *average* man… but from my experience, women are more likely, if they’re promiscuous, to be able to rack up HUGE numbers of “partners” whereas a guy who throws the curve that way is rarer. Just think of life as a frat party with 20 guys and one girl… the other 19 girls are sitting at home wondering where the action that all these 20 guys are talking about is at ;)

  2. maybe the variance for the number of sexual partnersis actually larger for women, so 6 of these men’s sexual partners consisted of women who had about 6 partners, and the other five partners where uber-sluts who for obvious reason might underestimate there sexual activity

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Get more stuff like this
in your inbox

From anti-aging to the search for alien life, we promise to never bore.