A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What Internet Searches Say About You

For their new book A Billion Wicked Thoughts, neuroscientists Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam analyzed a billion web searches, a million individual search histories, a million Web sites, a million erotic videos, a million erotic stories, millions of personal ads, and tens of thousands of digitized romance novels. While not a study of people’s actual sexual experiences, the book offers something perhaps more interesting: a glimpse of the deeper sexual motivations of the human mind.

The fastest growing genre of erotic stories for women are stories about two heterosexual men having sex.

What they discovered is that what people say they like is often quite different from what they look for when nobody is watching.

Among their findings:

•The single-most popular search term users entered into PornHub isn’t “teens” or “cheerleaders,” but–get ready–“mom.”

• Men and women have hardwired sexual cues analogous to our hardwired tastes; there are sexual versions of sweet, sour, salty, savory, and bitter. But men and women are wired with different sets of cues.

• Though the male sexual brain is much more different from the female sexual brain than is commonly believed, the sexual brain of gay men is virtually identical to that of straight men.

•Women enjoy writing and sharing erotic stories with other women. The fastest growing genre of erotic stories for women are stories about two heterosexual men having sex.

•Men form their sexual interests during adolescence and rarely change. Women’s sexual interests are plastic and change frequently.

•When it comes to sexual arousal, men prefer overweight women to underweight women, and a significant number of men seek out erotic images of women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s.

These authors aren’t really studying sexual behavior. They’re just studying mouse clicks. Or are they? Read a review here and don’t be shy about leaving your comments below.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Steve

    •When it comes to sexual arousal, men prefer overweight women to underweight women, and a significant number of men seek out erotic images of women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s.
     
    “Overweight” and “underweight” are slippery terms, but for the most part most straight men prefer women who are shaped like women.   The emaciated models of the fashion industry are the product of gay male fashion designers and straight women competing with each other to see who is the most thin.
     
    Since I was a teen I have found women who kept in shape and where in their mid 30s – mid 40s to be the most compelling.
     
     

  2. 2
    melie

    So as 50 something, it’s rather encouraging to know that men are more truthfully interested in women my age than in younger women.  As a curvaceous woman it is also encouraging to know that men prefer us to our thinner modelesque counterparts.  Yay!

    1. 2.1
      MM

      I wish, but sorry sister, a significant number just means large enough to count, far from “most.”

  3. 3
    sofka

    What I don’t get is how they know which searches are being made by men and which are being made by women?!  And which are made by heterosexuals and which by homosexuals?

  4. 4
    starthrower68

    The internet has made the world into a candy store.  Not commenting on whether its wrong or right, just making an observation.

  5. 5
    TheInBetweener

    “When nobody’s watching” I’m pretty sure nothing is off limits.
     
    Sheer curiosity or fantasy?

  6. 6
    Nicole

    @Starthrower…you are quite correct.
    The worst part of online dating is that it makes the world look like an all you can eat lady (or man) buffet…just pick the colors and numbers that you want b/c there are 1000’s out there (not accurate but it makes shopping for a partner seem like shopping for a car).

  7. 7
    starthrower68

    @ Nicole #6

    It at least perpetuates the notion that there’s always a better one around the corner.  Oh well. What are ya gonna do?

  8. 8
    Venus

    I find it curious that so many so called researchers are presenting “facts and findings” that seem to contradict everyday observation. 

    Without a doubt the men’s profiles I have seen online overwhelming state that they are not interested in “big and beautiful” women.  Those who are attempting to be tactful simply say that they want a woman who is into being “fit.”  Then there is the occasional guy –  the exception – who states that he is looking for a big woman.  Yes from what I have seen, he is the exception.    

    This makes me wonder if guys seek out pictures of overweight women out of curiosity even though they are not interested in becoming involved with them.  

    In addition I believe that heavier women, likely,  try harder  to be sexually appealing than their slim counterparts because they self worth is more closely tied to acceptance by the opposite sex.  Whereas slimmer, fit women can derive a positive self image by looking in the mirror and may not need to rely as heavily on her sexuality.  Ok that’s just my conjecture.  

    Frankly, find a lot of these so called findings incredulous.  

  9. 9
    Jadafisk

    1. But very thin women *are* shaped like women. If they’re smaller overall, they’re going to naturally have more delicate limbs and smaller waists. There are countries full of women with less pronounced secondary sexual characteristics. They are clearly differentiated from men and children, and 100% straight men like them just fine. There are women who’ve crossed over from fashion modeling into pornography… these women are invariably wildly popular. The same models who appear in high fashion publications appear in SI and VS in different poses and contexts, where straight men slaver over them. The proportions of many porn stars are similar to those of fashion models, but truncated (there are no height requirements in porn) and imbued with implants, so they can appear more curvaceous while still being way thinner than the vast majority of women. There IS wider variation, but the most popular porn stars, as well as the majority in the aggregate, are thinner, younger women. The incredibly popular “barely legal” genre is dedicated to the juxtaposition of those traits.

    The reason that there were more searches for “fat women” is that “skinny women” are the default, and therefore there are no additional qualifiers needed. It’s like searching for “white women” – there would be little to no reason to do so. There are more sites specifically dedicated to overweight women because it’s a niche that is popular, but also polarizing. Like gay porn, there are some straight men who will get *angry* and stop visiting a site if thumbnails from this genre regularly appear on a mainstream site.

    8. Some men are concerned about what others may think about their mate choices, so the women they date/want to be seen hooking up with in public are primarily on one end of their range of attraction and the women they are most aroused by/curious about are on another part of that range.* Also, if a man strongly prefers large, natural breasts – as a good deal of men do, especially men whose era of sexual imprinting occurred before implants were common – he’s going to look for women that are a little larger because that trait is highly correlated with larger women.

    *Note that people can be simultaneously attracted to a variety of types. Just because a guy has pornography of women who are different from the woman he’s with, doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s not attracted to or less attracted to that woman, it may just mean that his desire for that type is sufficiently satisfied by regular sexual access to her.

  10. 10
    lux aeterna

    @ 9 Jadafisk, some good points there! I’ve been at the receiving end of that kind of behaviour from men a few times, where there is a difference between who they want to be seen publicly and who they are turned on by. In my case it’s the guys who date models, and get lots of social cred for that. But as soon as they are near me (curvy/chubby with a large ‘balcony’) they are like roaring animals, to the point where it scares me (“I can’t control myself when I’m around you” is a frightening thing to hear from a man). This attention insults me too, as I get the feeling I’m the woman they’d only sleep with but not be seen with.
    My ex’s best friend used to tease him for “being into fatties”, meaning me. At least my ex felt no shame about showing his preference in public, I’ll give him that.

  11. 11
    Nicole

    @Jadafisk…not all thin women have naturally smaller waists just like all women above a certain size don’t turn into shapeless blobs. Everyone has a different proportion, be it waist to hip ratio, bone structure, bust size, etc. And while at a certain point(be it too heavy or too thin), you will lose your figure, the point at which that occurs is not universal. I know plenty of small women who have no waists and have pronounced muffin tops and jiggly arms. And I know heavier women who still have nice hourglass figures or slim limbs. People’s overall proportions vary widely.

    I already hate this post because everyone wants to point out that no one really likes heavy women, which I think everyone kind of already knows. Don’t worry, no one is going to think that but everyone feels obligated to point it out. Or rather, I should say the number of men who will choose it first or consider it equally is much smaller. It’s just interesting how everyone wants to attack that particular point, but not the one about older women.

    I think that there is a lot to be said about peer pressure when it comes to both men and women, and there are plenty of people who pick what they are “supposed” to like as opposed to what they really want out of fear of what other people will think. So you have men of one race, who might want to pick women of another race and as a result, are probably looking at porn that involves women of those races. The same would be true of body type. Some men are attracted to larger women, but I think let themselves get shamed into suppressing it. Ditto for race, ditto for height, ditto for almost anything you could think of.

    And what do you mean, overweight women try to make themselves more “sexually appealing.” Don’t all women try to do that? I wasn’t aware that thinner women didn’t try as hard to be appealing. Or are you trying to say that you think that overweight women are sexually “easy” in an attempt to compete with their thinner counterparts?

    I didn’t think that it was news that men like real women, not the extreme caricatures on either end of the spectrum, whether it be fat fetishes or 14 year old, 6 foot tall, 100 lb runway models.

    Women consume the fashion magazines and many buy into the idea that you can never be too thin. Truthfully, even taking body size out of it, a lot of those women are rather harsh looking and sometimes rather ugly (in the face). They look nothing like the women who are in Maxim or the Victoria’s Secret models either.

    I don’t think it’s too surprising that in countries where the women all look one way, the men find that look appealing, but you can also bet that if you go there as a foreigner and statistical outlier, some people will find that attractive too. I’m sure that with the internet, the men in those countries are downloading images of women who come in different colors and shapes than the locals.

  12. 12
    starthrower68

    I think the main thing is to not worry so much about what the preference is and to learn not to need the external approval and validation.  I know that’s easier said than done, but it certainly does take some pressure off.  This is not a comment saying that what men are turned on by is wrong.  I just don’t feel the need to live up to some ideal. 

  13. 13
    Kenley

    A few months ago, Evan shared a report that indicated that when it comes to weight and size, most men just want the women they are with to be thinner than they are. So, if we follow that logic, it may be that some of the men looking at overweight women are also overweight themselves.  

    Moreover, this idea that men only like thin women is just not true.  I’ve been dating online and I’ve ranged from being 20 to 40 lbs overweight and I have had plenty of dates and a couple of relationships with good men.  Granted, I may not have as many dates as thinner,  younger women, but I have all the dates I can handle and that’s all that matters to me.

    Beyond my own dating experience, I see overweight people coupled up ALL THE TIME.  So, I don’t understand why this idea that only thin men and women can get dates, relationships, or marriages continues to persist. 

    Also, I  have seen plenty of men on Match — at least in the age range I am interested in — list that the physical type they prefer is  average or a few extra pounds.  Average for Americans IS overweight and a few extra pounds is also overweight.  So, once again, I am just not seeing men ruling out all but thin women.

  14. 14
    Jadafisk

    11. I’m saying that it’s possible for a very slender woman to have a naturally occuring and distinctly feminine frame, even though the ways in which a thin woman looks womanly will often differ from the ways that larger women do *in the aggregate.* I said that larger women tend to be more capable of being naturally pneumatic – I did not say that they were “shapeless blobs,” quite the opposite. Also, if anyone’s definition of “real woman” means that in some places, only 10% of reproductive-aged females will actually qualify, that definition is deeply flawed.

  15. 15
    Venus

    I don’t believe anyone is stating that only thin people can get dates.  Its simply a matter of questioning the posit that men in general find heavier women more sexually attractive. 

    If we read a report that said four year olds secretly preferred broccoli  to ice-cream and that they would get up in the middle of the night to raid the refrigerator for left over broccoli, how likely are we to accept that? 

    A lot of these reports that are put out there simply have no basis in fact.  Show me a controlled study that produces these results and I will become a believer. 

  16. 16
    Steve

    Venus 15
    I don’t believe anyone is stating that only thin people can get dates.  Its simply a matter of questioning the posit that men in general find heavier women more sexually attractive.
     
    “Heavier” is a relative term and that might might be one possible factor in the discord between the article and what we see in everyday life.  “Heavier” may simply mean “heavier than an emaciated runway model”   or “heavier than models in fashion magazines”.    “Heavier” may not mean “significantly overweight”.
     

  17. 18
    Nicole

    @Venus,
    That is fine, but no one questioned the idea that men like older women.  Why question one and not the other?  You could argue that both sound pretty ludicrous based on what society tells us that women need to be. 

    It is all relative but no one felt the need to say, oh, well, clearly they meant 40 year olds if the survey takers are 30, and weren’t suggesting that 21 year old men found Grandma Moses sexy…

    @Kenley, I think that the illusion of choice and the fact that you can right click on a bunch of attributes online is a game changer.  It’s also why the 50 year old and drop loads of emails on 30 something women. 

    So I think that people pass over people online that they might find appealing if they met live, since those people aren’t included in their filter, and b/c all descriptions are relative and men esp. seem really fearful about the size one(I was talking to a Brazilian woman who used “curvy” and had men she met tell her that she wasn’t “curvy” and that she should call herself “athletic and toned”, and it was clear that they thought “curvy” was a bad word).  I see overweight women with good-looking, athletic-looking men too, but I’d definitley love to know how many (or if any) of those relationships started online b/c I think that it makes it harder when shopping for a woman is like picking out pants.

  18. 19
    Venus

    Steve and Nicole, I accept your points.  But frankly I feel that the survey itself is questionable.  Especially as it does not go further to explain the seemingly contradictory trends it reports as findings. 

  19. 20
    Joe

    #18 Nicole: the reason women whose bodies fit the properly-used term “curvy” don’t (or are told not to) use that category when describing themselves in their online profiles is because overweight women have co-opted that category when describing themselves.  They’re not fat, they’re curvy.  There’s a lot of “body type” creep online.  People who are really average call themselves slender; people who are overweight call themselves average (or curvy).

    Of course, with the average American being overweight, maybe “overweight” *is* the new “average.”

  20. 21
    Theresa

    I really can’t believe how shallow people can be.  I haven’t read one comment on what really matters. We all get older, we all come in different sizes and shapes some individuals are more attractive looking then others how trivial it all is. What about a persons spirit.  I know a married couple the husband looks like he is a model for Cartier and his wife was approximately 400 lbs and average looking but each one had a beautiful personality, and both carried themselves with confidence , and humility both of them were ER Doctors and worked together very well together their personalities made both of them beautiful from the inside out x 100.  What about the beautiful porn star Queeny (I’m not speaking of all porn stars ) that is beautiful on the outside but is a self centered selfish bitch on the inside. I’m not in judgement of this person I’m just making a point. It is amazing what a difference that can make in a persons definition of beauty in the physical sense verses looking at the whole picture can taint your perception of what beauty really is.

     

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