Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 46, Issue 7, pp 2111–2121 | Cite as

Masturbation and Partnered Sex: Substitutes or Complements?

Original Paper

Abstract

Drawing upon a large, recent probability sample of American adults ages 18–60 (7648 men and 8090 women), we explored the association between sexual frequency and masturbation, evaluating the evidence for whether masturbation compensates for unavailable sex, complements (or augments) existing paired sexual activity, or bears little association with it. We found evidence supporting a compensatory relationship between masturbation and sexual frequency for men, and a complementary one among women, but each association was both modest and contingent on how content participants were with their self-reported frequency of sex. Among men and women, both partnered status and their sexual contentment were more obvious predictors of masturbation than was recent frequency of sex. We conclude that both hypotheses as commonly evaluated suffer from failing to account for the pivotal role of subjective sexual contentment in predicting masturbation.

Keywords

Masturbation Sexual desire Gender differences Partnered sexual behavior 

References

  1. Abramson, P. R. (1973). The relationship of the frequency of masturbation to several aspects of personality and behavior. Journal of Sex Research, 9, 132–142.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Baumeister, R. F., Cantanese, K. R., & Vohs, K. D. (2001). Is there a gender difference in strength of sex drive? Theoretical views, conceptual distinctions, and a review of relevant evidence. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 5, 242–273. doi:10.1207/S15327957PSPR0503_5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Byers, E. S., Henderson, J., & Hobson, K. M. (2009). University students’ definitions of sexual abstinence and having sex. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 665–674. doi:10.1007/s10508-007-9289-6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Callegaro, M., & DiSogra, C. (2008). Computing response metrics for online panels. Public Opinion Quarterly, 72, 1008–1032. doi:10.1093/poq/nfn065.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carvalheira, A., & Leal, I. (2012). Masturbation among women: Associated factors and sexual response in a Portuguese community sample. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 39, 347–367. doi:10.1080/0092623X.2011.628440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chang, L., & Krosnick, J. A. (2009). National surveys via RDD telephone interviewing versus the Internet: Comparing sample representativeness and response quality. Public Opinion Quarterly, 73, 641–678. doi:10.1093/poq/nfp075.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Das, A. (2007). Masturbation in the United States. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 33, 301–317. doi:10.1080/00926230701385514.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Das, A., Parish, W. L., & Laumann, E. O. (2009). Masturbation in urban China. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 108–120. doi:10.1007/s10508-007-9222-z.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Dekker, A., & Schmidt, G. (2003). Patterns of masturbatory behaviour: Changes between the sixties and the nineties. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 14, 35–48. doi:10.1300/J056v14n02_04.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gerressu, M., Mercer, C. H., Graham, C. A., Wellings, K., & Johnson, A. M. (2008). Prevalence of masturbation and associated factors in a British national probability survey. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 37, 266–278. doi:10.1007/s10508-006-9123-6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Graham, C. A., Catania, J. A., Brand, R., Duong, T., & Canchola, J. A. (2003). Recalling sexual behavior: A methodological analysis of memory recall bias via interview using the diary as the gold standard. Journal of Sex Research, 40, 325–332. doi:10.1080/00224490209552198.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Hald, G. M. (2006). Gender differences in pornography consumption among young heterosexual Danish adults. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 35, 577–585. doi:10.1007/s10508-006-9064-0.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Herbenick, D., Reece, M., Schick, V., Sanders, S. A., Dodge, B., & Fortenberry, J. D. (2010). Sexual behavior in the United States: results from a national probability sample of men and women ages 14-94. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7, 255–265. doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2010.02012.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Hurlburt, D., & Whittaker, K. (1991). The role of masturbation in marital and sexual satisfaction: A comparative study of female masturbators and nonmasturbators. Journal of Sex Education and Therapy, 17, 272–282. doi:10.1080/01614576.1991.11074029.Google Scholar
  15. Jaccard, J. (2001). Interaction effects in logistic regression. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kontula, O., & Haavio-Mannila, E. (2002). Masturbation in a generational perspective. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 14, 49–83. doi:10.1300/J056v14n02_05.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Laumann, E. O., Gagnon, J. H., Michael, R. T., & Michaels, S. (1994). The social organization of sexuality: Sexual practices in the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  18. Leitenberg, H., Detzer, M. J., & Srebnik, D. (1993). Gender differences in masturbation and the relation of masturbation experience in preadolescence and/or early adolescence to sexual behavior and sexual adjustment in young adulthood. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 22, 87–98. doi:10.1007/BF01542359.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Okazaki, S. (2002). Influences of culture on Asian-Americans’ sexuality. Journal of Sex Research, 39, 34–41. doi:10.1080/00224490209552117.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Oliver, M. B., & Hyde, J. S. (1993). Gender differences in sexuality: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 114, 29–51. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.114.1.29.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Petersen, J. L., & Hyde, J. S. (2010). A meta-analytic review of research on gender differences in sexuality: 1993 to 2007. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 21–38. doi:10.1037/a0017504.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Pinkerton, S. D., Bogart, L. M., Cecil, H., & Abramson, P. R. (2002). Factors associated with masturbation in a collegiate sample. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 14, 103–121. doi:10.1300/J056v14n02_07.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Rao, J. N. K., & Scott, A. (1981). The analysis of categorical data from complex sample surveys: Chi squared tests for goodness of fit and independence in two-way tables. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 76, 221–230. doi:10.2307/2287815.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Rao, J. N. K., & Scott, A. (1984). On chi squared tests for multiway contingency tables with cell proportions estimated from survey data. Annals of Statistics, 12, 46–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Reece, M., Herbenick, D., Schick, V., Sanders, S. A., Dodge, B., & Fortenberry, J. D. (2010). Sexual behaviors, relationships, and perceived health status among adult men in the United States: Results from a national probability sample. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7, 291–304. doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2010.02009.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Richters, J., Grulich, A., de Vissen, R. O., Smith, A. M. A., & Rissel, C. E. (2003). Sex in Australia: Autoerotic, esoteric and other sexual practices engaged in by a representative sample of adults. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 27, 180–190. doi:10.1111/j.1467-842X.2003.tb00806.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Shulman, J. L., & Horne, S. G. (2003). The use of self-pleasure: Masturbation and body image among African American and European American women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 27, 262–269. doi:10.1111/1471-6402.00106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Thomas, D., & Rao, J. N. K. (1987). Small-sample comparisons of level and power for simple goodness-of-fit statistics under cluster sampling. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 82, 630–636. doi:10.2307/2289475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Waite, L. J., Laumann, E. O., Das, A., & Schumm, L. P. (2009). Sexuality: Measures of partnerships, practices, attitudes, and problems in the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Study. Journal of Gerontology, 64B, 56–66. doi:10.1093/geronb/gbp038.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  3. 3.Marriott School of ManagementBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA

Personalised recommendations