Survey Reveals Surprising Sex Attitudes

ByABC News

Oct. 20, 2004 — -- There are some questions about sex that we have all wondered about, but have never dared to ask.

Like, who's doing what and where? How many Americans have had sex outdoors, at work, in a threesome? Who's sharing their fantasies or watching erotic videos? How much do men and women think about and enjoy sex?

However, "Primetime Live," working in conjunction with the ABC News Polling Unit, now has the answers -- after completing one of the most extensive sex surveys in the last 50 years.

ABC News interviewed a random sample of people from across the country to establish an accurate, detailed picture of sex attitudes and behavior in America today.

See more about the survey during a live, hourlong Primetime Live event on Thursday, Oct. 21 (10-11 p.m. ET).

One of the survey's key findings is that satisfaction with sex matters. The results show that activities such as discussing fantasies with a partner contribute to an exciting sex life, and that an exciting sex life contributes to sexual satisfaction, which in turn contributes to a satisfying marriage. And the poll reveals what many people are doing to keep the spark alive in their relationships.

Forty-two percent of Americans describe themselves as sexually "adventurous," and many of those who say they are "traditional" wish they or their partners were more adventurous in bed. In fact, this groundbreaking survey finds a range of eye-popping sexual activities, fantasies and attitudes in this country, confirming some conventional wisdom, exploding some myths and treading where few scientific surveys have gone before.

The wide-ranging survey yields fascinating insights into many other areas, including: how often people of various age groups are having sex; how many sexual partners the average American has had; the sexual attitudes of religious Americans; and intriguing information about the ultimate sexual topic -- the orgasm.

The ABC News Polling Unit surveyed a random sample of 1,501 American adults aged 18 and older by telephone. Of those surveyed, 97 percent have ever had sex; 3 percent have never had sex. Five percent identified themselves as homosexual or bisexual.

Among other key findings:

The survey dispels the "Sex and the City" myth that singles are having more sex than married couples.

The ABC News "Primetime Live" survey was conducted by telephone, by female interviewers only, Aug. 2-9, 2004, among a random national sample of 1,501 adults. The results have a 2.5-point error margin for all respondents; as in any poll, sampling error is higher for subgroups. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.

The survey was conducted in one-on-one telephone interviews with a representative sample of adult Americans who agreed to participate in a study of sexual attitudes and behavior. From the point initial respondents were informed of the subject matter, 92 percent went on to complete the entire questionnaire. The demographic composition of the sample closely matches that of ABC News surveys on other subjects, and the data reflect a high level of consistency across questions, and also with previous research.

The poll was conducted after a review of previous surveys, scientific and non-scientific, on sexual attitudes and behaviors. Many of the questions cover areas rarely if ever examined in national random-sample survey research. Some of the best-known surveys on sex -- the Kinsey (1948 and 1953), Masters & Johnson (1966) and Hite (1976) reports -- were not based on representative, random samples of the adult population.