Men's Journal inappropriately makes connections from study that relates personal well-being to sexual frequency
This news article in Men’s Journal by Lauren Steele falsely claims that the happiness derived from having weekly sex is equivalent to a $50,000 raise. The original research article on which this piece was based is an article published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, a reputable journal in the field. This article asserts that well-being and sexual frequency are no longer significantly correlated once having sex at a frequency greater than once a week- for those in romantic relationships. Further, the research article notes that, due to the nature of the study, causal claims cannot be made without further research.
The Men’s Journal article vastly overstates and misconstrues the claims made in the original research paper. Steele asserts, as the basis of the article, that having sex “at least once a week” has significant benefits akin to a large raise; this claim is incorrect in many ways. The paper clearly states that there is not a significant benefit past a sexual frequency of once a week; further, the paper makes no such claim relating the happiness resulting from raise and sexual frequency. Although the article provides a source other than the original article, it is of low quality. Dr. Svetlana Kogan, referred to as “a member of the American Medical Association” (an organization that any doctors and medical students can pay to join in the US), is cited excessively throughout the article. But, upon further research it is clear that she is not an expert in the field.
The composition of the article is also lacking. Although the author uses language that is clear and accessible for the intended audience, the use of colloquial and sensationalist language is excessive. Further, there is no author contact information, social media or biography available. Along with the original paper being pay-walled, this makes it difficult for the audience to verify the claims made by Steele. In addition, the excessive use of advertisements obstructs the clarity of the text, this takes focus away from the article.
In an article by Lauren Steele for Men’s Journal, the results and implications of a study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin by researchers from the University of Toronto were discussed. The topic of the study was on the impact of the frequency of sex on overall happiness, and the researchers reviewed three studies to derive the main conclusion that the association between sex and well-being is curvilinear, meaning that after a certain frequency sex is no longer associated with well-being. Yet, the title of the Men’s Journal article focused on relating the well-being people receive from sex to receiving financial gratification, which was not a factual conclusion of the study.
The title of the study took a different stance than the research article did, and in terms of how well the article discussed the claims and results of the study, they struggled in a few areas. Firstly, the article claimed that couples should be engaging in sexual activity at least once a week to obtain the most optimal feelings of well-being; however, the results of the study found that for people in relationships, sexual activity more frequent than once a week does not promote any further increases in well-being. Secondly, the author presented their own opinion on the topic by encouraging readers to have sex more than once a week, which was also presented with colloquialisms and unjustifiable exclamation marks. Thirdly, the intent of the study was to examine the relationship between happiness and the frequency of sex, but the article emphasized financial wellness although it is irrelevant to the points made in the study.
The article did use language that would be accessible to a lay audience and does present a link to the original research article; however, that article is paywalled. This article discusses evolutionary origins of the effect of sex on happiness with an independent source, but this source is not appropriately cited nor is there any mention of the original authors of the study providing input to the article either. Overall, this article writes about the findings of their research article of choice in a jargon-free manner accessible to their target audience; however, overstates and oversimplifies the findings of an otherwise complex and multifaceted review paper.
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