Skip to main content
Log in

Seasonal Variation in Internet Keyword Searches: A Proxy Assessment of Sex Mating Behaviors

  • Original Paper
  • Published:
Archives of Sexual Behavior Aims and scope Submit manuscript


The current study investigated seasonal variation in internet searches regarding sex and mating behaviors. Harmonic analyses were used to examine the seasonal trends of Google keyword searches during the past 5 years for topics related to pornography, prostitution, and mate-seeking. Results indicated a consistent 6-month harmonic cycle with the peaks of keyword searches related to sex and mating behaviors occurring most frequently during winter and early summer. Such results compliment past research that has found similar seasonal trends of births, sexually transmitted infections, condom sales, and abortions.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Baumeister, R. F., Catanese, 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brewer, D. P., Muth, S., Roberts, J. M., Dudeck, J. A., & Woodhouse, D. (2007). Clients of prostitute women: Deterrence, prevalence, characteristics and violence. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, US Department of Justice.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cooper, A., Delmonico, D. L., & Burg, R. (2000). Cybersex users, abusers, and compulsives: New findings and implication. Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity, 7, 5–29.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Elam-Evans, L. D., Strauss, L. T., Herndon, J., Parker, W. Y., Whitehead, S., & Berg, C. J. (2002). Abortion surveillance in the United States-1999. Morbidity mortality weekly report. Retrieved May 3, 2011 from

  • Fallows, D. (2005). How men and women use the internet. Pew Internet and American life project. Retrieved May 5, 2011 from,

  • Fortenberry, J. D., Orr, D. P., Zimet, G. D., & Blythe, M. J. (1997). Weekly and seasonal variation in sexual behaviors among adolescent women with sexually transmitted diseases. Journal of Adolescent Health, 20, 420–425.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Ginsberg, J., Mohebbi, M. H., Patel, R. S., Brammer, L., Smolinski, M. S., & Brillian, L. (2009). Detecting influenza epidemics using search engine query data. Nature, 457, 1012–1014.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Google. (2009). Google trends. Retrieved March 8, 2011, from

  • Hakim, D., & Rashbaum, W. K. (March 10, 2008). Spitzer is linked to a prostitution ring. New York Times. Retrieved May 3, 2011 from

  • Herold, A. H., Woodard, L. J., Roetzheim, R. G., Pamies, R. J., Young, D. L., & Micceri, T. (1993). Seasonality of Chlamydia trachomatis genital infections in university women. Journal of American College Health, 42, 117–120.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Lam, D., & Miron, J. A. (1991). Seasonality of births in human populations. Social Biology, 38, 51–78.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Levin, M. L., Xu, X., & Bartkowski, J. P. (2002). Seasonality of sexual debut. Journal of Marriage and Family, 64, 871–884.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Macdowall, W., Wellings, K., Stephenson, J., & Glasier, A. (2008). Summer nights: A review of the evidence of seasonal variations in sexual health indicators among young people. Health Education, 108, 40–53.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Malamuth, N. (1996). Sexually explicit media, gender differences and evolutionary theory. Journal of Communication, 46, 8–31.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Markey, P. M., & Markey, C. N. (2010). Changes in pornography seeking behaviors following political elections: An examination of the Challenge Hypothesis. Evolution and Human Behavior, 31, 442–446.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Markey, P. M., & Markey, C. N. (2011). Pornography seeking behaviors following midterm political elections in the United States: A replication of the challenge hypothesis. Computers in Human Behavior, 27, 1262–1264.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Markey, P. M., & Markey, C. N. (2012). Pornography seeking behaviors. In Z. Yan (Ed.), Encyclopedia of cyber behavior (pp. 337–346). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

    Google Scholar 

  • McCarthy, M. J. (2010). Internet monitoring of suicide risk in the population. Journal of Affective Disorders, 3, 277–289.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Parnell, A. M., & Rodgers, J. L. (1998). Seasonality of induced abortion in North Carolina. Journal of Biosocial Science, 30, 321–332.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Petersen, D. J., & Alexander, G. R. (1992). Seasonal variation in adolescent conceptions, induced abortions, and late initiation of prenatal care. Public Health Reports, 107, 701–706.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Pittman, S., Tita, A. T., Barratt, M. S., Rubin, S. R., & Hollier, L. M. (2005). Seasonality and immediate antecedents of sexual intercourse in adolescents. Journal of Reproductive Medicine, 50, 193–197.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Rodgers, J. L., Harris, D. F., & Vickers, K. B. (1992). Seasonality of first coitus in the United States. Social Biology, 39, 1–14.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Ropelato, J. (2006). Internet pornography statistics. Retrieved May 3, 2011 from

  • Scafetta, N., Restrepo, E., & West, B. J. (2003). Seasonality of birth and conception to teenagers in Texas. Social Biology, 50, 1–22.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Schroeder, B., Tetlow, P., Sanfilippo, J. S., & Hertweck, S. P. (2001). Is there a seasonal variation in gonorrhea and chlamydia in adolescents? Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, 14, 25–27.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Seiver, D. A. (1985). Trend and variation in the seasonality of U.S. fertility, 1947–1976. Demography, 22, 89–100.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Tita, A. T. N., Hollier, L. M., & Waller, D. K. (2001). Seasonality in conception of births and influence on late initiation of prenatal care. Gynecology and Obstetrics, 97, 976–981.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tourangeau, R., & Yan, T. (2007). Sensitive questions in surveys. Psychological Bulletin, 133, 859–883.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Warner, R. M. (1998). Spectral analysis of time-series data. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Warren, C. W., Gold, J., Tyler, C. W., Smith, J. C., & Paris, A. L. (1980). Seasonal variations in spontaneous abortions. American Journal of Public Health, 70, 1297–1299.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Wellings, K., Macdowall, W., Catchpole, M., & Goodrich, J. (1999). Seasonal variations in sexual activity and their implication for sexual health promotion. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 92, 60–64.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • World Bank. (2011). Internet users (per 100 people). Retrieved May 5, 2011 from

  • Yang, A. C., Huang, N. E., Peng, C. K., & Tsai, S. J. (2010). Do seasons have an influence on the incidence of depression? The use of an internet search engine query data as a proxy of human affect. PLoS One, 5, e13728. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013728.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Ybarra, M. L., & Mitchell, K. J. (2005). Exposure to internet pornography among children and adolescents: A national survey. CyberPsychology and Behavior, 8, 473–486.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Patrick M. Markey.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Markey, P.M., Markey, C.N. Seasonal Variation in Internet Keyword Searches: A Proxy Assessment of Sex Mating Behaviors. Arch Sex Behav 42, 515–521 (2013).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: