Why pornhub’s data about 50 shades of grey is more valuable to me than most psychological studies

The problem with psychological studies is that they’re generally made with a population of white and rich college students. So, they’re inherently biased. That’s even more so when we study human sexuality. People can and often lie. I laughed a lot when I read a study made by Michele Alexander and her colleagues where women reported an average of 169% more sexual partners when they thought they were connected to a lie detector compared to when they simply answered a questionnaire.

There’s one place, though, where we can’t lie. Thanks to Internet, websites such as Google and Facebook can make social experiments with millions if not billions of people. Plus, they’ve real user data. We vote our preferences with a click. That’s why the best data we’ve about human sexuality probably doesn’t come from psychological study, but from websites such as pornhub, who like to blog about their users. For instance, they recently published an article (Yes I do go to pornhub for the articles) about 50 shades of grey and its impact on their users’ intimate actions behind the screen.

After the movie’s release over Valentine’s Weekend, they reported a significant increase of searches related to BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Sadism and Masochism). The 13thof February marks the real threshold, with search words like “submission”, “spank” and “bondage” increasing by 20% for men and 40% for women. As they say at pornhub : “our female users have definitely been channeling their inner Anastasia Steele’s.” For certain terms such as “submission”, the searches have gone more than 200% upwards through female users.

Freud once said: “The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is ‘What does a woman want?’ “ I don’t pretend I got the answers he never found, but I do find obvious that if Grey was poor, ugly and unambitious, Anastasia would probably have simply called the police. That’s why some would say that the submission phantasm is more about power and money than about sex, which would make sense according to what we already know about men and women sexualities. That will be the subject of another post.

Originally published at www.darwinsprinciples.com.