It's time to take a simple self-assessment test, which the International Sexuality Description Project—a team of more than 100 scientists—has administered in 48 different countries.* The test will take less than a minute, and will measure what psychologists call your “sociosexuality"—or, what I call, promiscuity. The higher the number, the more promiscuous you are. You should try to honestly answer the seven questions. And unless your sexual behavior runs toward exhibitionism, you might want to make sure that you're alone and are prepared to clear your browser history when you're finished.
I find this test interesting because if you can measure a quality like promiscuity, then you can make comparisons. (If you want to understand how your promiscuity was calculated, go to the end of this post.) And once you can make comparisons, you can start to think about what lies behind the differences in behavior. Have you ever wondered in which countries people are the most promiscuous, or even if promiscuity varies at all? The International Sexuality Description Project turned up a great deal of variety in promiscuity between nations. The world average of all individuals surveyed using the promiscuity test you just took was 35. The United States is just above that at an average of 37. My country Canada is just below at 34.5. Finland though is far ahead of the pack with an average of 50.5. Other countries are far below, like Bangladesh and Taiwan, with an average just under 20.
Countries from Most to Least Promiscuous (based on Table 3 in Schmitt):
|1. Finland||50.5||17. Switzerland||39.13||33. Belgium||32.82|
|2. New Zealand||47.69||18. Fiji||38.58||34. Congo, D.R.||32.43|
|3. Slovenia||46.26||19. Brazil||37.93||35. Greece||32.38|
|4. Lithuania||46.1||20. Czech Rep.||37.52||36. Ukraine||32.27|
|5. Austria||45.73||21. Australia||37.29||37. Romania||32.1|
|6. Latvia||43.93||22. United States||37.05||38. Malta||31.27|
|7. Croatia||42.98||23. France||36.67||39. Slovakia||29.55|
|8. Israel||40.95||24. Turkey||36.06||40. Lebanon||28.57|
|9. Bolivia||40.9||25. Mexico||35.69||41. Botswana||27.02|
|10. Argentina||40.74||26. Peru||34.59||42. Ethiopia||26.55|
|11. United Kingdom||40.17||27. Portugal||34.59||43. Japan||24.1|
|12. Estonia||39.95||28. Canada||34.52||44. Hong Kong||22.9|
|13. Germany||39.68||29. Italy||34.37||45. Zimbabwe||22.66|
|14. Netherlands||39.34||30. Poland||34.21||46. South Korea||22.21|
|15. Morocco||39.31||31. Serbia||34.21||47. Bangladesh||19.67|
|16. Philippines||39.31||32. Spain||33.72||48. Taiwan||19.22|
As an economist, I can’t help but wonder if some of the variation in promiscuity between nations has to do with income. I decided to see, although this is not an empirical test, whether there is a correlation between promiscuity and income.
Using GDP per capita**, I ranked the 48 countries in the survey by income per capital and found that the average promiscuity measure for the ten poorest countries was 32 while the average measure for the top 10 was 39. While there are notable exceptions of rich countries with low promiscuity (Belgium) and poor countries with high promiscuity (Bolivia), it appears that the richer countries are more promiscuous on average than poorer countries.
So why might there be a correlation between wealth and "sociosexuality"? It might simply be the case that promiscuity is a luxury that is affordable to more people in richer nations. After all, in poor living conditions, you might have other things to occupy you than seeking multiple sexual partners.
I don’t think that is the right approach, though. Within all nations there are both rich and poor individuals. If the argument held that promiscuity was the result of high incomes, we would expect high-income individuals to be more promiscuous than low-income individuals within the same country. I am not sure that is actually the case. I think that the relationship between national income and promiscuity is much more complex.
In my mind, what it comes down to is what makes a nation wealthy in the first place. One of the reasons nations grow is because they have legal institutions and social norms that promote innovative activity.
For example, cultural traits that encourage growth are openness to new ideas, trust, and a willingness to accept risk. It is possible that these same characteristics are ones that encourage promiscuity. After all, what can be more trusting, and more risky, than sex with a stranger?
If I am correct, it is not income that leads to promiscuity, but rather other characteristics of a free society that lead to both high income and high promiscuity.
So, I have been thinking of tourism slogans for Finland (after all, using promiscuity to promote tourism worked for Denmark***) but unfortunately “The Happiest Place on Earth” is already taken. That’s okay. We are going to talk about promiscuity and happiness in my next post, and it probably isn’t appropriate anyhow.
*Schmitt, David (2005) ”Sociosexuality from Argentina to Zimbabwe: A 48-nation study of sex, culture and strategies of human mating” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28, 247-311. ** World Development Indicators & Global Development Finance, World Bank, 19 April, 2010*** http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/wireStory?id=8579634
Here are the seven numbers that were added together to get your promiscuity measure:
- The number of sexual partners you have had in the last year, multiplied by five.
- The number of sexual partners you see yourself having in the next five years (realistically, not optimistically, and no greater than 30).
- The number of one-night-stands you have had, multiplied by five.
- On a scale of one to eight where one is “never” and eight is “every day”, how often do you fantasize about someone other than your current/most recent partner, multiplied by four.
- On a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 9 (strongly agree) how would you agree with the statement “Sex without love is OK”. Multiply that number by 0.66.
- Same as above but with the statement “I can imagine myself being comfortable and enjoying casual sex with different partners”. Again it needs to be multiplied by 0.66.
- On a (new) scale of 1 (strongly agree) to 9 (strongly disagree) how would you agree with the statement “I would have to be closely attached to someone (both emotionally and psychologically) before I could feel comfortable and fully enjoy having sex with him or her”. Multiply that number by 0.66.