Promiscuous college students, animal sex, strippers and Centerfold analysis. Some scientists have all the fun.

Modern science has cured plagues and mapped the outer reaches of the cosmos, but what about important issues like boob symmetry and porcupine fornication? We dove into more than half a century of sex studies and made this startling discovery: There’s no topic too weird, or too obvious, for the lusty labcoat crowd – especially if someone can get a grant for it. Just be careful with that Bunsen burner, Dr Horndog.

In 1987, Dr William Loughry of Akron City Hospital in Ohio snapped wide-angle photos of the bare breasts of 249 women, then graphed them with a computerized plotting device. Two years later, Dr Loughry photographed 598 topless women, but this time included more charts. Eureka! Loughry discovered that 90 percent of women’s right and left breasts are roughly the same size. For some reason, the Nobel Prize committee continues to overlook his achievement.

In the mid-Sixties, psychologist Stephen Lawrence of San Bernadino, California, organized a 24-hour group therapy session at a nudist camp. The session began with the participants sharing their feelings about being nude. Next they walked to a pool, disrobed and jumped in. The group then discussed its voyeuristic needs, control of sexual impulses and the emotional adjustments required to be nude. During the session, participants watched a videotape of themselves being nude. Eureka! “Data suggest that nudity as a facilitator in the group process can be significantly effective with some therapists and some clients in some settings,” Lawrence wrote. Group nudity – better than Prozac.

Locking chastity belt from JT’s stockroom courtesy of

1: After interviewing 60 men and 22 women who said they hadn’t had sex in at least six months (many belonged to an online discussion group for “involuntary celibates”), five female sociologists from Georgia State University concluded that the longer a person goes without getting laid, the more he thinks he’ll never get laid.

2: After quizzing 120 students, a University of Northern Iowa professor learned that while gay men use more sexual slang than straights, 43 percent don’t have a favorite word for vagina.

3: In 1994 a Rutgers professor hypothesized that obscene callers operate under an “opportunity proposition.” That is, in order to make an obscene call, the caller needs a phone, spare time, privacy and a woman to answer the call. The prof suggested that the more opportunities an obscene caller has to make obscene calls, the more obscene calls he will make.

4: After surveying 223 college students, researchers found that for most sexual activities “pleasure ratings were higher among respondents who had engaged in the activity.” This bolstered the idea that “pleasure motivates sexual behavior.”

Sweden reported a downturn in gonorrhea in the early Seventies after introducing a campaign that included a drawing of a winged penis flying over a patch of flowers. Rates of gonorrhea did not go down in Denmark. One scientist noted that rather than the flying penis, linguistics may have played a role in how often men bought condoms. The Swedish word for condom is kondom. The Danish word is svangerskabsforebyggende middle.

A team led by a psychologist from Ohio State suggested that sexual interest in the female foot peaks during epidemics of STDs (most recently, AIDS). So researchers counted the number of bare feet shown in every issue of PLAYBOY – as well as Adam, Club, Fox, High Society, Live, Penthouse and Velvet – over 30 years. They found an average of seven photos with bare feet in 1965 had jumped to more than 20 per issue by 1994.

In 1979 Dr James Gilbaugh of St Vincent Hospital in Portland, Oregon brushed a sanitized toilet seat with the discharge of men with gonorrhea. The bad news: The discharge survived on the seat for up to two hours. The good news: The doctor found no gonorrhea on samples he collected from 72 public restroom seats. That guy in the white coat wasn’t the janitor.

1: A University of Glasgow professor asked 40 people who had each drunk two pints of beer and 40 sober people to rate photos of 120 college students. The drinkers found the students in the photos 25 percent more attractive than did those who had not imbibed.

2: Psychologist Russel Eisenman of the University of Texas-Pan American recruited two popular male student athletes to survey 50 female undergrads “considered by the males to be sexually attractive, based on the males’ prior social experiences and knowledge of the females.” The men asked half of the women, “In having sex, which feels better, length of penis of width of penis?” To counter any linguistic bias, they asked the rest of the women, “In having sex, which feels better, width of penis or length of penis?” Forty five of the 50 women surveyed said width felt better. It was not reported how many times the questioners got laid.

3: Nine researchers observed 15,008 couples holding hands and concluded that men are more likely to put their hand on top. Two psychologists from Northwestern University used a newspaper ad to recruit women ages 25 to 35 who had slept with a large number of men. The professors paid each woman (who averaged 58 partners) 10 bucks to spend 90 minutes describing her sex life. The study revealed that promiscuous women are generally more attractive. It also revealed an easy way to meet slutty babes.


  • In 1961 Gary Fisher of Fairview State Hospital in Costa Mesa, California asked 1,154 juvenile delinquents to draw a human figure. He concluded that when a teenage boy draws a nude, it is likely to be a female nude.
  • Researchers asked 40 students at Purdue to draw nudes. They reported that the students with the most positive attitudes about sex were more likely to draw nipples, public hair and the pee hole.
  • In 1954 a psychologist at the University of Sydney tested 779 children and found that boys prefer rounded shapes while girls prefer pointed ones. He added, helpfully, “The female form differs essentially from the male in its curved aspects.”
  • Stephen Schmidt of Middle Tennessee State University reports that when men are shown photos of naked women, “the nude impairs a memory of background details as well as pictures immediately following the nude.” He calls it anterograde amnesia. No wonder we can never remember any Party Jokes.

Gynecologists at the University Hospital in Groningen in the Netherlands recruited couples to have intercourse inside an MRI scanner. Once penetration had occurred long enough to get clear images (12 seconds), they slid out of the scanner so the woman could masturbate to orgasm. Only one couple – street acrobats in their 40s – managed full penetration without Viagra. The team’s chief discovery was that during sex, the penis bends like a boomerang until it is almost parallel to the woman’s spine. And, like a boomerang, the penis always returns to the same spot.

Neurologist Alan Hirsch of Chicago hooked up penis meters to 31 men, then placed scented masks over their faces. He found that a combination of pumpkin pie and lavender increased blood flow to the penis by 40 percent, while a mix of doughnut and licorice did so by 32 percent. No scent decreased arousal. In a study of 30 women, vaginal blood flow increased by 13 percent with the scent of baby powder or a combination of licorice and cucumber. Arousal decreased with the smell of cherry or barbecue.

In his book, Lovemaps, sexologist John Money introduced scientific terms for kinky sex, including:

  • Ophidiophilia: arousal by snakes
  • Acrotomophilia: arousal from sleeping with an amputee
  • Autoassassinophilia: arousal by playacting your own death
  • Formicophilia: arousal from snails or frogs on the genitals
  • Mysophilia: arousal from chewing sweaty underwear
  • Peodeoktophilia: arousal from flashing the penis to evoke shock
  • Somnophilia: arousal from awakening a sleeping stranger with caresses or oral sex.


Urologists at the University of Ferrara in Italy shot capsaicin, the active ingredient in hot peppers, into the urethras of 10 men suffering from unexplained impotence. Each got an erection. (Do we even need to say, “Don’t try this at home”?) In a similar experiment, scientists in Mexico asked 25 women to masturbate using a plastic cylinder covered with a condom and connected to a strain gauge. Each woman pressed the cylinder against the front and back walls of her vagina until she felt discomfort, the research revealed that the women who consumed the most hot peppers each day had the highest tolerance for vaginal pain.

1: After measuring 63 men, Canadian scientists found no strong link between penis size and height. After measuring 104 men, English scientists found no link between penis and shoe size. Greek scientists found a link between penis and index-finger size. Next up: finger surgery.

2: In a 1971 textbook, child psychiatrist Bertrand Cramer observed that “the capacity of the penis and testicles to move and retract may contribute to a boy’s interest in machinery and physics.”

3: What does a boner sound like? In 1971 a medical journal reported on a $30 accessory that allows laboratory researchers to hear subjects’ penile expansions.

4: Two urologists in Brussels tested the limits of penile extensibility, which is “the difference between the length of the flaccid penis and the penis submitted to a maximal constant traction.” The doctors extended the flaccid members of 17 fresh cadavers and four live specimens. They found that a penis can be stretched an average of 1.5 inches – or slightly more if the skin has been removed.

5: In 1980 two psychiatrists at the State University of New York at Stony Brook reported that they had designed a device to measure the force at which an erection buckles under pressure. They’re still looking for volunteers.

6: After reading a 1968 study that concluded the left testicle hangs lower in right-handed men (and vice versa) but that the higher ball is heavier and larger, Chris McManus of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in England examined the testicles on 107 ancient sculptures in Italian museums. He found that most artists got it wrong and made the left ball smaller. Forty percent of the artists decided not to study their models’ testicles too closely and made them the same size.

DOGGY STYLE – Yes, these questions were tested on animals
How do porcupines pork? According to observations made at the University of Buffalo in 1946, the male walks on three legs, clutching at his genitals with his free paw. The he rears up, flashes his erection and covers the female with a stream of urine. This ritual continues for several weeks. When it’s time to actually mate, the animals relax their spines so the bristles lay flat. Scientific conclusion: Porcupines do it carefully.

What gets your goat hot? In 1984 researchers conducted three tests: (1) A male goat mated with a female goat while another male goat watched. (2) The male that had just watched mated with the female while another male goat watched. (3) The male that had just watched mated with the female with no goats watching. The study found that the male goats were equally aroused in every situation.

Are castrated mice still horny? In 1964 psychologists from Williams College in Massachusetts paired 72 male mice with female mice. After six weeks of fun, half the males were castrated. The nutless mice were placed with the females “until the ejaculatory reflex was lost.” The study found that fast-recovery castrated mice had more ejaculations than slow recovery castrated mice.

What’s up with rabbit penis, doc? In 2002, three urologists from Harvard Medical School implanted lab-grown penis tissue into 18 rabbits. “The penis is more complex than any of the organs we’ve engineered so far,” said one.

Why do animals attack? In 1996 veterinarians collected semen from wild seals by inserting a greased probe up the animals’ rectums to a depth of 14 inches and then zapping the probe with a charge from an idling ATV. That same year, other vets began a field report with the sentence, “Electro-ejaculation is difficult to perform on a rhinoceros.”

What is the effect of loud noise on copulating deaf rats? According to a study published in 1964,

In 1986 psychologist John Rosegrant of Taylor, Michigan, analyzed 324 PLAYBOY Centerfolds and concluded that the more bush a Playmate shows, the more likely it is she’s wearing shoes. In 1993 Devendra Singh of the University of Texas analyzed 312 Centerfolds and reported that their waist-to-hip ratios had remained steady over the decades at 0.70. In early 2002 two sociologists at the University of Wisconsin analyzed 524 Centerfolds and disputed Singh’s figure. In December 2002 a researcher in Vienna and a Toronto psychologist analyzed 577 Centerfolds and found that their waist-to-hip ratios had increased over the years – as had their waist-to-bust ratios and the number of times scientists now must study our Centerfolds to reconcile all the conflicting data.

Four professors from the University of California at Santa Barbara invited 33 customers at a strip club in Las Vegas to watch three-minute routines by nude or seminude dancers from four feet away, six feet away with no contact and six inches away with a brief touch on the shoulder and a single stroke down the arm. Eureka! Men prefer nude dancers who stand close and touch them.

In a study published in 2002, two volunteers with thermometers in their rectums dipped their balls into freezing water for 20 minutes. Next, eight men with thermometers dipped their balls into warm water for 30 minutes. The findings? Dipping your balls into freezing or warm water does not change your rectal temperature. But it does affect your singing voice.

An Italian and five German scientists recruited eight volunteers, stuck a catheter with a balloon into their rectums, slowly filled the balloon with air, then took magnetic resonance images of the subjects’ skulls to see which parts of their brain lit up. Activity was strongest near the part that prompts you to yell, “What the fuck?!”

XXX Factor
Two psychologists from the State University of New York at Albany asked 56 college students to watch a porn video four times in four days. On the fifth day, the students were shown a new video. The professors learned that people who are bored watching the same porn over and over become interested again when you give them fresh porn. Four psychologists from the University of Georgia asked 24 volunteers wearing penis meters to drink measured amounts of 100 proof vodka and engage in a little “tactuo-motor manipulation” as they watched a porn video. The scientists found that the drunkest guys had the hardest time coming.

We are indebted to the Annals of Improbable Research. For further reading go to

Published in Playboy South Africa December 2012