Men usually report to have more lifetime sexual partners than women and that’s true. The disparity between the number of sexual partners reported by men and women can largely be explained by a tendency among men to report extreme numbers of partners, and to estimate rather than count their lifetime total, a new study reveals.
The researchers analysed the responses of over 15,000 men and women in a survey. Their study sought to better understand why men always report more opposite-sex partners on average than women, even though the average number reported by men and women should be about the same.
In the survey, men reported an average of 14-lifetime partners while women reported only 7 (participant age range, 16-74).
The gap reduced further when ‘accounting strategy’ was taken into consideration. Men were more likely than women to estimate rather than count their lifetime partners. For example, among those reporting 5-9 partners, 24 percent of men estimated compared with 15 percent of women.
Sexual attitudes also had an impact on reporting. Women were generally more conservative in their sexual attitudes than men.
The researchers then investigated a number of other explanations. They found that excluding paid-for partners made only a small difference to the gender gap, but gender differences in sexual partners had a modest impact over a 5-year period and could also be a potential explanation over the lifetime.