Their comprehensive study, entitled “Why Humans Have Sex” appears in the August 2007 issue (volume 36, number 4) journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. It was also published online on July 3, 2007 (Their abstract appears at: http://springerlink.com/content/t8259n215884jm25/).
According to their abstract: “Historically, the reasons people have sex have been assumed to be few in number and simple in nature–to reproduce, to experience pleasure, or to relieve sexual tension. Several theoretical perspectives suggest that motives for engaging in sexual intercourse may be larger in number and psychologically complex in nature.”
The research performed by Buss and Meston found that people have sex for a wide range of reasons. In the first part of their study, the pair of researchers asked over 400 men and women questions relating to why they have sex. Their answers formed the 237 different reasons for having sex.
They, then, asked 1,549 undergraduate students questions relating to their attitudes about sex and their experiences with sex. This part of the study allowed the researchers to divide the answers into four main and 13 secondary groups.
The answers were divided into four main groups: physical, goal-based, emotional, and insecurity-based. These four major categories were then further divided into 13 sub-categories.
1. Physical reasons included stress reduction, pleasure, physical desirability, and experience seeking.
2. Goal-based reasons included resources, social status, revenge, and utilitarian.
3. Emotional reasons included love-and-commitment and expression.
4. Insecurity-based reasons included self-esteem boost, duty/pressure, and mate guarding.
Common answers to “Why I have sex” were: “I wanted to experience physical pleasure”, “I wanted to get closer to God”, “I was bored”, “I wanted to get back at my partner for having cheated on me”, and “I wanted to get a promotion”.
According to the Medical News Today article (“Sexual Motivations Studied”), Buss commented as to their study by saying, “Why people have sex is extremely important, but rarely studied. Surprisingly, many scientists assume the answer is obvious, but people have different reasons for having sex, some of which are rather complex.”
Buss and Meston are associated with the Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin.