Why Smart People (Generally) Have Less Sex

Absolutely fascinating piece on sex and intelligence on Gene Expression. Bottom line: The very intelligent are more likely to be virgins, and to have less sex when they are married. The cause may be testosterone, which appears to suppress intelligence and increase sex drive.

I guess my raw intelligence must be enough to overcome my overwhelming sex drive. Either that, or castration would make me much smarter. Not that I’m going to try out that theory.

Here are some of the key tidbits:

  • “Depending on the specific age and gender, an adolescent with an IQ of 100 was 1.5 to 5 times more likely to have had intercourse than a teen with a score of 120 or 130. Each additional point of IQ increased the odds of virginity by 2.7% for males and 1.7% for females.”

  • “By the age of 19, 80% of US males and 75% of women have lost their virginity, and 87% of college students have had sex. But this number appears to be much lower at elite (i.e. more intelligent) colleges. According to the article, only 56% of Princeton undergraduates have had intercourse. At Harvard 59% of the undergraduates are non-virgins, and at MIT, only a slight majority, 51%, have had intercourse. Further, only 65% of MIT graduate students have had sex.”

  • The author even cites the famous Wellesley study, and notes, “This paper provides me with GRE scores by academic discipline, and, in fact, the correlation between the percentage of virgins in each Wellesley major and the average ‘Analytical’ GRE score associated with the discipline is 0.60.”

  • “Not only do intelligent people have a delayed onset of sexual behavior, Half Sigma found that they also have a lower number of premarital sex partners throughout adulthood (18-39). While this is consistent with the above theory that high IQ people are more religious and conservative, this is, of course, not true. Religiousness correlates with lower IQ, and as HS shows in the same post, intelligent people were also more likely to say that premarital sex was not immoral. (Leaving those who did think it was immoral to participate in the bulk of it!)”

  • “Perhaps more revealing, HS, also showed that intelligence correlates with less sex within marriage for the same age range. While still consistent with pregnancy fears and competing interests, lower sex drive seems like a better fit. In fact another revealing finding from the Counterpoint survey was that while 95% of US men and 70% of women masturbate, this number is only 68% of men and 20% of women at MIT!” (Editor’s Note: I know people from MIT, and I don’t believe this stat for a second.)

  • “Also the idea that more intelligent people are too busy for the opposite sex not just in 7th grade to college, but throughout adulthood and for their own spouse, seems unrealistic. In fact the GSS also shows (PDF) that smarter people spend more time socializing with their friends, indicating their hours aren’t spent as uniquely isolated and narrowly channeled as the theory would require.”

  • Half Sigma also showed that the smartest men in the GSS (approx. IQ >120) were also more likely to visit a prostitute. (Hardly indicative of cautiousness) This may suggest intelligent men are less able to find willing sex partners. Are smart men less attractive to women? Perhaps in some ways. For instance HS found that smart men were less likely to be athletic, and this paper shows, unathletic men and women have fewer sex partners. Athletic men, with more willing sexual partners are also less likely to visit a prostitute. Athletic activity gives men more masculine bodies, which are more attractive to women. A more masculine physique correlates with (PDF) an increased number of sex partners.”

  • “One team found that salivary testosterone levels were lower for preadolescent boys with IQs above 130 and below 70. (the same two groups most likely to be virgins in adolescence). Another paper suggests that a gene responsible for androgen sensitivity and higher sperm counts may also create a tradeoff for intelligence.”

12 thoughts on “Why Smart People (Generally) Have Less Sex

  1. James Mei


    Devolution is sure to follow!

    Technically, its more likely to be classed as a "normative distribution", as extremely high (>140) or low (<70) IQs are weeded out to leave a largely homogeneous pool of people around the 100 mark.

  2. *bes and idiot and clicks above links*

    *gets laid*

    *proves point*

  3. its funny that they said nothing about physical appearance…from my experience smart people have a very high libido, about half of the time (maybe even more)smart people are not attractive and/or are very awkward and anti-social and this leads to the lack of “scoring”… i.e. the guys who sits home all day playing PC/video games, surfing the net, or doing whatever indoor activity they do…

    instead of trying to find out how much sex they’re not having, try to find out how much they masturbate

  4. Anonymous

    doesn't testosterone affect motivation? is there something confounding about this?

  5. Anonymous

    oh god, this is depressingly logical. I am a model and college student with a high IQ; fortunately for me, I do not follow the trend described in this article-I also have healthy libido. Unfortunately, almost any guy that I find even moderately intellectually stimulating…well, let's just say the stimulation ends there. Thus far, I am still a virgin by choice because anyone that I consider to be sexy I also find to be inept at having an interesting, intellectual conversation. Hopefully, I'll eventually find an exception to the rule. For now, thanks for making my experience feel scientifically justified.

  6. Define "sex". I had a lot of masturbation in college; you could say that I majored in it. And I know the proper use of a semi-colon!

  7. Anonymous

    This looks like bad news. The more intelligent are less likely to reproduce whilst the dummies multiply like rabbits.

  8. Anonymous

    Maybe it's because smart people have better things to do than have a lot of meaningless random sex, and they're more apt to think about the future? Food for thought.

  9. Perhaps it has more to do with the amount of work required to achieve the high level of success, leaving little time for relationship building?

  10. Anonymous

    This is b.s. there are so many varying factors left out. The fear of pregnancy, appearance. Better judgment. And its scientifically proven that low testosterone decreases memory while normal to high test improves memory, energey levels and physical appearance. Everything I read is nonsense.

  11. Anonymous

    Usually socialisation makes them too tired and exhausted cause it's hard to maintain symbiotic interaction.

  12. Usually socialisation makes them too tired and exhausted cause it's hard to maintain symbiotic interaction.

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