Observations of a Nerd

ResearchBlogging.org“Low emotional intelligence seems to be a significant risk factor for low orgasmic frequency,” say researchers from the King’s College in London. They studied over 2000 women to see if there was a link between low orgasm frequency and emotional intelligence (“EQ”). By looking at mental variables, they hoped to find new ways to treat female orgasmic disorder (FOD), which up to 30% of women suffer from.

Orgasming WomanThe methodology was very simple: test women’s EQs and survey their sexual habits to see how the two relate. The women were volunteer twins drawn from the TwinsUK London registry. The twins were similar in terms of disease and prevalence of lifestyle characteristics to the regular population. The subjects filled out questionnaires including general sexual behavior and functioning like the age at first intercourse, number of partners, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, and, more specifically, on frequency of achieving orgasm during intercourse and masturbation. They also filled out a general behavior questionnaire including the Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire–Short Form, the results of which gave them each “EQ” scores.

When they compared EQ scores to age, weight, history of abise or menopause, all current ‘risk factors’ for FOD, they found no correlations. They also didn’t find correlations betten education or other factors and EQ. But when they compared the EQ scores to orgasm frequency, they found that the higher the EQ, the more orgasms a woman tended to have. “The positive correlation between emotional intelligence and the frequency of orgasm during masturbation and intercourse leads us to conclude that a high emotional intelligence level contributes to the ability to achieve orgasm more frequently,” write the authors in the conclusion.

However, I’m not so confident of their results – or more acturately, the conclusion they draw from them. Again, it seems, they’ve fallen victim to my biggest pet peeve: CORRELATION does not imply CAUSATION. Let me explain:

EQ describes the ability, capacity, skill or a self-perceived ability to identify, assess, and manage the emotions of one’s self, of others, and of groups. But it isn’t based on actions or life events – it’s a questionnaire. One of EQ’s biggest criticisms is that it is biased by what is called “socially desireable responding”, aka ‘faking good,’ where people portray themselves more favorably on paper than they really are. On top of that, people respond to such questionaires differently depending on their mood and outlook on life. I would say that in the case of this study, there’s an even bigger problem with the reported answers: they could be biased by sex.

Women who have sex, and more importantly orgasm frequently, are likely to be happier. They’ve got men (or women) that please them frequently, which is a plus to begin with. Whether happiness causes sex or sex causes happiness is irrelevant (though the latter is likely, considering the flurry of happy chemicals that wash through our bodies after orgasm). What matters is that those who are happier and more content with their lives are far more likely to score high on EQ tests. Emotional Intelligence scores can be improved with daily meditations, tharapy, and a variety of other mood-boosting activities, so why not sex? After all, who hasn’t thought their single coworker or friend “needs to get laid”?

It seems an oversight, at best, to not consider that the orgasms themselves could have an impact on EQ scores. Especailly in this case, where researchers didn’t actually look at the EQ scores of women who do and don’t have FOD. The lack of clinical diagnosis of the study participants seems to be careless as well – after all, if you’re looking for how to cure FOD, you should look at people who actually have FOD.

So what does the research tell us, then? Not nearly as much. To link EQ to orgasm frequency doesn’t mean that having a higher EQ allows a women to have more orgasms – not necessarily. It could even be the other way around, where more orgasms lead to better emotional stability and high EQ scores. So I guess, in the end, yet another study has gotten under my skin for its assumption that correlation is causation. That’s about it.

Burri, A., Cherkas, L., & Spector, T. (2009). Emotional Intelligence and Its Association with Orgasmic Frequency in Women Journal of Sexual Medicine DOI: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01297.x

Comments

  1. #1 Justin
    November 22, 2010

    Yes. Correlation does not imply causation. But you had to make an ass of yourself and say that orgasms may possibly produce higher EQ. Ugh…

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