10 Charts About Sex

April 19th, 2011 by Christian Rudder

This was one of the first infographics ever made:

Later remembered as "the map that made a nation cry", it depicts Napoleon's failed invasion of Russia in 1812. The wide tan swath shows his Grande Armée, almost half a million strong, marching East to Moscow; the black trickle shows the few who straggled back. It's an elegant fusion of geography, time, and temperature into a single statement of military disaster.

Of course, using modern tools of analysis, like circles and the color blue, we can get an even clearer picture of history:

It is our goal today to create graphics of similar concision and power, but about something more useful than war—sex.

All the data below, even the most personal stuff, has been gleaned from real user activity on OkCupid. Some of it our users have told us outright by answering match questions; some of it we've had to learn from observation.

Other than the unifying theme, sex, there's no big point or thesis to this post: just comparisons, correlations, and quirky trends.

Chart #1

We found this by crossing the match questions Do you like to exercise? and Is it difficult for you to have an orgasm?, and, as you can see, women who don't like working out report twice the orgasm problems of women who do.

Chart #2

Here, we took a single question—Is your ideal sex rough or gentle?—and scraped people's profile text for the words that most correlated to each answer. Here are word clouds for women and men in their 20s.

The text is basically Hot Topic versus, I dunno, Burberry. But beyond the words the interesting thing is how men's and women's preferences change with age:

This dataset only includes single people, of course, but I was still very surprised at how many old men like it rough. Looks like I'm going to have to rethink a cherished part of my worldview.

Chart #3

The odds shown in this chart, and the others like it later in the post, are odds "in favor"—in this case, odds in favor of being into giving oral sex. The higher a group's odds, the more into it they are.

Since so much sexual slang involves meat—"hot dog," "sausage," "burger," "beef injection," "another beef injection," and so on—I thought this would be a fine occasion to point out that there are plenty of veggie alternatives:

Vegetarian-Friendly Sex Slang
Peeling the banana.
Tossing the salad.
Squeezing the melons.
Zeroing in on a grown man's nuts and nutsack.
Putting Monsanto in yoursanto.
Ordering the split pea soup.
Sorry, that's got ham.

Cornholing others.

Charts #4 & #5

Frequent tweeters have shorter real-life relationships than everyone else, probably via some bit.ly hack. Unfortunately, we have no way to tell who's dumping who here; whether the twitterati are more annoying or just more flighty than everyone else. There is also this:

If someone tweets every day, it's 2-to-1 that they're #ingthemselves just as often. Like the "shorter relationships" thing, this is true across all age and gender groups.

Chart #6:

In the Bible, in between the part where Reuben kills a he-goat so he can dip some clothes in the blood of the he-goat and where Judah tries to give Tamar a goat but decides maybe she should be burned to death instead, God kills a man named Onan because Onan intentionally spills his seed on the ground.

(1) Thou shalt not whack off. (2) Mo goats mo problems.

Life lessons! From the Iron Age!

Charts #7 & #8

This bubble chart, plotting body type, sex drive, and self-confidence, is dynamic—you can use the slider at the bottom change it. As you can see as you move the control from left to right, a woman's sexuality peaks in her twenties, holds more or less steady for twenty years, and then falls to the floor. And while sex drive waxes and wanes, self-confidence steadily grows.

Remember, the women themselves select their body-descriptions; the bubbles show the size of each group. Though many of the words are just a shade of meaning apart, there are dramatic differences in the traits of the people who choose them. Go through the animation and compare full-figured to curvy or skinny to thin.

It's particularly interesting to isolate skinny—a deprecating way to say something generally considered positive (being thin)—and curvy—an empowering way to say something generally considered negative (being heavy). Here are those bubbles' complete paths across the graph:

Curvy women pass skinny ones in self-confidence at age 29 and never look back. They also consistently have the highest sex drive among the groups. Curvy, as a word, has the strongest sensual overtones of all our self-descriptions. So we're getting a little insight into the real-world implications of a label.

This is the "complete path" plot for men:

Things to notice: (1) almost no men choose curvy or full-figured as self-descriptions, so those words aren't plotted here; (2) men of all body types have roughly the same peak sex drive; (3) and the thing that matters most for guys is simply to not be overweight. The other four body types are clustered relatively together at most ages.

Chart #9

For this chart, we took our own data and mixed it with a little outside stuff: college tuitions from U.S. News & World Report.

Generally speaking, the more your parents are paying for your education, the more horny you are. If only Freud were still around to help us understand; instead we have psychology majors, those Adidas shower sandals, and darkness.

You can think of the dotted best-fit line as dividing the good sex-ed values (above the line) from the bad ones (below). The line also gives us a handy sliding scale: given a 36-week school year and the average partner, every $2,000 spent on your college tuition is an extra time you could be having sex that year.

Chart #10

The correlation between sex and money is robust for colleges, but it gets even stronger when extended to entire nations.

We were amazed at this result—money seems to be a more powerful influence on sex drive than culture or even religion.

You have, for example, Portugal, Oman, Slovenia, and Taiwan within a few pixels of each other on the right side of the graph, and Syria, Sri Lanka, and Guatemala almost stacked on the left, and all of them sit along the trend line.

Speaking of Guatemala, you should Facebook-like this article. The end.

298 Responses to “10 Charts About Sex”

  1. Theodore says:

    @Truth, @Fred, your statements about old men needing rough sex due to circumcision don’t hold. I’m 74, cut, and have learned to have mind-blowing orgasms solely by tickling my anus with a goose feather.

  2. anon says:

    Overweight and middle income woman with a high sex drive and middling self-confidence who likes strong sex but a placid lifestyle. Hmm. Smart from public college. Defy statistics.

  3. Christian Rudder says:

    RE: odds

    A lot of people have asked about the odds in Graph #3, the Vegetarians/Oral Sex one. The numbers up the y-axis are odds FOR liking giving oral sex, so with 9:1 odds, vegetarian men, for example, are more into it than non-vegetarian men, who come in around 7:1. As several users have noticed, horse races and other places where you encounter odds usually post odds AGAINST, because gamblers are interested in payout multiples. That’s apparently caused some confusion. Lesson for me: most of what people know about statistics they’ve learned at the track. I will take that to heart next time.

  4. Christian Rudder says:

    RE: how we make the charts

    I make all the charts in Excel, and I use Photoshop whenever I need to do something Excel can’t: overlays, extra graphics, etc. Any interactivity/animation is done from scratch with javascript.

  5. Christian Rudder says:

    RE: tuition vs. sex drive.

    These are the 100 most-represented colleges on OkC, so if you don’t see your particular institution on the graph, not enough of your classmates are using OkCupid. Work to change that!

  6. Robert F. says:

    They needed to have one that showed the number of men/women willing to pay for sex. Willing to swing and willing to pay for porn……

    There are a lot of people going to Places like Charlis Angels, Escorts Resort and The Thai house just to mention a few and those who visit such places getting a lot more action than now than what they will get from “normal” encounters outside marriage. Sometimes with a much better aftermath and none of the consequences.

    With the help of this kind of research like that we could show the trend to our women and perhaps they can adapt and at least try to improve their sex drive and bitch less.

  7. solid says:

    “curvy—an empowering way to say something generally considered negative (being heavy).”

    Curvy does not mean Heavy, it means having curves (read: an hour glass figure–Marilyn Monroe). Fat rolls are not curves. Changing the word you call yourself will not get you dates, it just serves to annoy us males. It is sad that now, even the word “normal” is becoming synonymous with fat.

  8. jack says:

    Wow. I haven’t read anything so completely and carefully in a long time.

    Was glad to see my age level represented on all graphs.

    Donna the typical woman as graphs showed but I knew that. Shes an angel but this subject is taboo with her. Keep between you and me, please.

    Have not seen Canadiens score yet but I am rooting for them (do not tell anyone as I am a charter mmber of Leaf Nation and tis is treason!).

    Airport

  9. TemplatesRule.com says:

    I could not understand the first diagram in second chart but chart no 6 is the most interesting i guess. I dont think there is any harm in admitting about masterbation, overall a great research

  10. AliVegan says:

    Another brilliant set of statistics! Excellent. Thank you for enlightening us!! :D

  11. John says:

    So what age does the peak male sex drive represent?

  12. F7 says:

    I think the statistics here might not necessarily represent reality, as the scope is OKC users. For example, one should question whether men are more likely to use dating sites over time if they are interested in rough sex vs otherwise.

    There are similar scope analogs which skew statistics in the US. Most random statistical surveys happen by phone, but because of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act calls of this type cannot be made to mobile phones. Landlines have largely been done away with by the young and general technologically adept population, so these people are unrepresented.

    The net result is that public polls, statistics, and political predictions often conducted or directly reported to television and serialized news sources reflect the opinions of people that watch television news as opposed to bouncing all over the internet like the rest of us.

  13. Gary says:

    The percent of people who claim they’ve never masturbated:

    You have a lot of liars there. I do not believe any of the numbers. Any of them.

  14. Jim. m says:

    I eat this stuff up!! Every one of these trend articles gets me excited in more than just the information. I’m a data analyst by trade and have written a few white papers, but I want to know where you get your knowledge and ideas for skimming off the cream that becomes these articles, I mean the analysis skills, where did you learn them? Teach me master!

  15. Max says:

    These charts are amazing. They are the reason I’m still on okcupid.

  16. yomama says:

    @ Theodore: what you didn’t mention was that the feather is still attached to the goose…

  17. AkRaven says:

    I find it interesting that you chose stop-light colors for your body-type graph. Just as you mention in your article about the power of a label, symbols are powerful, too. It would have been interesting if you had used red for the socially more “acceptable” body types (skinny and thin) and green for the usually negatively perceived body types (overweight and a little extra.) I dare you to change it and see if it changes your perception of the data.

  18. Angelo says:

    Very interesting
    What i can t understand is why women are not feminine any more not in the way they dress but in the way they carry them self’s.I come from Greece witch love and sex was almost invented and i know in order to love you have to go through sex first.
    Maybe i sound corny or boring for some people but i can t have sex like a mammal.
    Where is the chemistry the connection and the mystery that made it beautiful?
    How can u get that on line out of a few words with no soul or eye contact i don t understand and i am trying to find out and i guess that is the reason why i don t get any answer from women when it comes to that.I thought been real and thoughtful was a good thing The way to love is hard and it takes time that nobody specially women willing to invest instead the way of thinking is not different than a mammal that does what nature tells it to do
    I don t know if anyone read s this and if it makes any sense to any one but i would like to hear another opinion thank you

  19. MM says:

    @RobertF maybe if men were better lovers women’s sex drive would be up and they’d bitch less…i’d say men need to get off their high horse and do the adapting…turn a woman on the way she likes and you can bet she’ll rock your world that you’d never need to go to a hooker again…

  20. Liz says:

    @ Robert F. You mean if I took those magic pills to change my sex drive to a man’s, or starting smiling non-stop like June Cleaver, all the men paying prostitutes for sex would be beating down my door?

    How stupid of me to chase away all the men who rent a human being so they can stick their penis in someone, as opposed to reciprocal intimacy with another person as equals. What a wonderful husband and father they undoubtedly would have been had it not been for my frigid naggery!

  21. sir says:

    the reason there’s all those pedophiles out there is because they’re circumcised.
    PS, you will defend circumcision by saying you make up for it by tickling your ANUS with a FEATHER? what sick fvck!!

  22. Sho says:

    Well if we look to living things in nature for a model the income to sex ratio is just what you would expect. Birds, plants, whatever. When they have more resources they have more babies instead of bigger ones.

    Basically it’s diminishing returns. If you clothe and feed a kid and all of that basic stuff they have a really good chance of surviving but if you give them 20 million dollars worth of care more than that their chances don’t actually go up very much. Maybe a few percent.

    So there’s some ideal investment point where a parent gets more bang for their buck by investing in another kid. A young tree might make a three or four fruit while an enormous tree makes dozens or hundreds of fruit… all just about the same size. Richer humans aren’t capable of making hundreds of babies but the basic idea is the same.

    It’s more complicated though as higher taxes should encourage bigger investments per child and the number of babies is heavily influenced by how many of them you expect will die, even more so if they can all die at once. Personal disasters like that probably have roughly equal probabilities for everyone in the same country these days though.

  23. silentg says:

    How about “athletic”? please do clarify under which category did you put athletic body type. Is it normal, average or thin?

  24. Jodi says:

    My theory is that the more money your parents pay for school, the less likely you are working and paying rent and raising kids at the same time as taking classes and therefore the less tired you are and the more energy you have for sex.

    Ditto for people living in poverty who aren’t in school: the more likely you are to be exhausted, underslept, underfed, homeless, stressed, living with a lot of people in a small space and lacking privacy… the more likely you are to have problems with sex and the more other things are likely to be on your mind. I would guess being hungry is one of the biggest anti-aphrodisiacs around.

    If you can hire help to do household chores and watch your kids, take a vacation somewhere awesome, go out to eat instead of cooking, spend time setting the mood and being alone with your partner, aren’t working three jobs… sex is much more likely to happen and be a priority than if you just want to fall into bed and get some rest as soon as possible.

    I think Freud has very little to do with it.

  25. Bee says:

    Some of these seem a bit random, but the word frequency ones cracked my shit up.

    Can a future trends post do a word frequency image for duplicity? Like what are the most commonly used words by people who answer yes to Q447?

  26. Henk Poley says:

    Can you correlate the ‘doesn’t like to give oral’ group with other data, like promiscuity or something?

  27. Rob says:

    Nice job on the Gapminder-style animation on chart #7!

  28. Roch says:

    It would sure be cool if OKC would let us manipulate the data and post our results as well! I’m sure there would really be some out-of-the-box thinking!

  29. SJ says:

    Awesome post … again :)
    Wouldn’t some men describe themselves as muscular or fit?

  30. leo766 says:

    Hello there !
    Thank you for your great research ! Very funny to read !
    Thank you also for reminding me that the first modern graph was designed to show that Napoleon’s Russian campaign was a true demographic catastrophe. A tyrant he certainly was !…
    However I’m somewhat at loss with the “oatmeal” correlation. I simply don’t see what you’re driving at. But then it must be an american idiosyncrasy that I am not aware of.
    However my message is not about those trifling peculiarities.
    I wish to protest strongly about your 1st graph stating that we Frenchmen are 95% “totally fucked”. This is NOT TRUE at all. Your results should be reversed. Sadly enough, 95% of us are ONLY “somewhat fucked”. I think it is important that you know that we are doing our best to be TOTALLY FUCKED at all time, as it certainly is the most blissful moment in life. In the country of “joie de vivre” we cannot allow ourselves any failure on this matter unless we accept to show a very degraded image of our country.
    Now it may be that we do not have the same view and definition about what “fucked” is. In which case there is only one way for brushing away any doubt between us and keep the Franco-American friendship at is highest : why don’t you come over here and we’ll show you !!!!…
    Remember La Fayette !…
    Cheers ! … :D

  31. Andrew says:

    Can you break chart #10 into one chart for men and one for women? Can you create charts showing which countries have the greatest disparity between the genders insofar as looking for casual sex.

    Finally, you guys should add a question “I have or would be willing to have casual sex with someone vacationing or on business in my city” and then tell us which cities are best for each sex to visit.

  32. Liam says:

    On #1 (and probably some other questions) it’s good to keep in mind that correlation does not imply causation. Mind you, I wouldn’t be surprised if there *were* a causal relationship, but let’s not slip into a logical fallacy.
    Otherwise, though, some startling results and nice graphs!

  33. No Longer single says:

    Looking at graph #2 & age. Seems that one could interpret this as saying girls who like rough sex and guys who do not are, as they age, leaving the dating pool (or at least OKC) at a faster rate than their counterparts. Just a thought

  34. GT-Itis says:

    You seem baffled by the fact that single men over a certain age prefer rough sex, but think about it. As preference for rough sex among women over a certain age decreases, one presumes that the desire to settle with someone who doesn’t like it rough wins out. Therefore, the number of men over a certain age who prefer gentle sex ten to lean towards marriage or commitment. From that we can assume that the desire for rough sex is more likely to be a causal factor of being single over a certain age than anything else.

  35. Marbran says:

    @solid I completely agree with you. ‘Curvy’ should not be the catch-all descriptor for overweight. Fat rolls are not sexy to most. I have met a number of women from OKC who described themselves as ‘curvy’ only to find out that they were very much overweight. Women should note that guys pay attention to the descriptors, and if a woman is really overweight when she claims to be ‘curvy,’ that doesn’t score points with us. When I read ‘curvy’ I expect someone built like Kim Kardashian or Beyonce, hardly ‘overweight’ either of them. For men, calling ourselves ‘average’ almost universally means that 1) we are not gym rats and probably are built like most desk jockeys, and not like a 20-y.o. Adonis; and 2) that we’re probably carrying around an extra 15 or 20 lbs around our waist.

  36. peninna says:

    It seems obvious to me why older men want rough sex, and older women want it gentle. The older guys have less testosterone and a harder time getting it up, so they need more stimulation. Older women have less estrogen, and thus are less lubricated and need intercourse to be more gentle. Fortunately, Viagra and Astroglide come to the rescue, to say nothing about hormone replacement therapy. Too clinical? Just have fun!

  37. a-scally-lad says:

    You couldn’t find a reason to get a single hot girl’s picture in the article? Tis a shame!

  38. anonymous says:

    This might have been asked already, but please please a version of chart 10 broken down by gender as well.

  39. Nicholas says:

    It is very funny that in chart #2, a significant number of women who like gentle sex are thinking of England…

  40. Saul Good says:

    There are many possible interpretations beyond the obvious that should be considered with survey data. In any data collection exercise you have to consider not only issues of sampling (in this case, okc users, ones who answer questions, ones who answer the questions in the analysis). More than that, we should consider the many possible reasons why someone might give a particular answer and how that answer is related to other answers in the analysis. Identifying oneself as curvy may have little correlation with body shape or fat level, but more to do with how one thinks of oneself and/or how one wants to appear or be perceived.

    I think that okc users who identify a non-christian religion are more likely to be intending to use the site to find co-religionists for procreation. They may be more likely to click the “I don’t masturbate button during an okc survey for the sake of appearances.

    If there were biblical restrictions of masturbation they should pertain to Christians as much Jews, yet there rates of masturbation denial are low. Many branches of Christianity have a more repressive sexuality that Hindu, Muslim, and Jewish sects. It may be that these conservative Christians are not only less likely to use okc, they may be less likely to use if for finding co-religionists for procreation or other dating. It may even be that Christians who would like to find other christians for marriage through okc feel no need to identify themselves as such (either looking for marriage or christian). I imagine this would vary by the percentage of non-christians in the area

    And contrary to the claims in the article, in the Biblical narrative Onan gets into trouble for refusing to fulfill his obligation to continue his deceased brothers’ family line by impregnating his brother’s widow as the custom required of him. Instead after sex with his brother’s widow (or the culmination) he spilled his seed on the ground. Ground may even be an idiom for the myriad places he may have deposited his seed. He did this ostensibly because he enjoyed the sex part and didn’t want Tamar to become less shapely by baring a child.

  41. Tom says:

    @Gary: you said,” The percent of people who claim they’ve never masturbated:
    You have a lot of liars there. I do not believe any of the numbers. Any of them.”

    That chart about masterbation clearly says “claim”. “CLAIM”. As in “this is what they said.”

    So exactly who are you accusing of lying? And what numbers don’t you believe?

    They way I see it, the percent of people who actually masterbate probably doesn’t vary that much among different groups. So that graph, to me, shows in relative terms how many people are lying. Which is interesting.

    The bubble chart about sex-drive vs. body image is also largely interesting because it is based completely on self-reporting. Are there people who are actually “overweight” who self-report as “normal.” Sure there are. But that’s not the point of the chart.

    So yes, we agree, there are a lot of liars out there. But I DO believe the numbers, because the numbers represent how people answered the surveys. There is no claim that the numbers represent anything else — certainly not the “truth” (whatever that is) — and that’s what makes this whole thing interesting.

  42. db says:

    Marbran,

    I once read the description of “curvy” as implying that the woman’s waist measurement was approximately 10 inches less than her hips/breasts – as in the classic hourglass figure. In my personal opinion, this would not imply a Kim Kardashian, who I think I heard was a size 2, nor would it imply something like the Michelin Man. While some curvy women are overweight, a lot of overweight women are not curvy.

  43. Emmahimself says:

    Let me presume that this chart is not applicable to okcupid users only. Though that was a wonderful analytical break-down, i can boldly say that there were many elements of dependency. Ur basis were replies from users, isn’t there a possibility that many users won’t give the real-self information eg on the masturbation poser feedback? Secondly, the questions you crossed, in no small measure, influenced the chart outcome. Had you crossed the ‘doesnt like to give oral sex’ with another than the one you used, your guess is as good as mine. Our inclination to sex and the urge to have it whenever we feel like, make us more or less mammals. In a situation whereby one can’t control oneself, i wonder the neccesity of such existence. In general, the chart can’t be said to be all-encompassing because of the above reasons, notwithstanding, it’s a good breakdown.

  44. TheCaoth says:

    All girls love rough sex. The majority just don’t know it.

  45. mike mick muck says:

    rivoting!

  46. polaris says:

    leo766, the 95% “totally fucked”Frenchmen refers to those in the Napoleonic campaign in Russia… at the beginning i though too it was about today’s Frenchmen he he

    I’d got to love OKTrends blog enormously!!

  47. David says:

    Ever thought of adapting your stats research into the inner workings of the habits of dating behavior for a college or high school stats class….especially an online class – it seems with how important engadgment is that your material could be truly leveraged to create a rather engadging class with a narrative intertwined into it.

    i think its something thats worth a partnership and would potentially gain you a bit of advertising as – each course would have to “CITE THEIR SOURCES” :)

  48. Lisa Simon says:

    I think your study is BS and I also holds no weight. I would also like a study done on how many people are looking for a fling or threesome on ok cupid vs match and other sites..