Erin Lynch
The Playboy Foundation Survey
The Playboy Foundation Survey
The Playboy Foundation Survey, completed in 1973, was commissioned to update and compare results to the previous studies in 1948 and 1953 by Alfred Kinsey. Completed during a time of sexual revolution, the survey included a questionnaire of more than 1,000 items, surrounding “backgrounds (including sex education), attitudes towards sex, and sexual histories” (Branno
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The Symbol for The Playboy Foundation
n, 1999, p. 256). 2,026 people from 24 U.S. cities participated after being randomly selected from telephone books, with 200 taking part in even lengthier interviews (Brannon, 1999). Of those studied, 982 were men and 1,066 were women and were 90% white and 10% black. Almost ¾ of the respondents were married, ¼ never married, and a small percentage were divorced and never remarried (Wallechinsky & Wallace, 2010). The survey was published in six monthly installments and in Morton Hunt’s book, Sexual Behavior in the 1970s (Watts, 2008). Overall, the survey reconfirmed Kinsey’s findings that “people’s sexual behavior is more varied than the social norms suggest” (Brannon, 1999, p. 257).

Previous Research
Thompson (1984) reported that Alfred Kinsey and his associates published a report on male sexual behavior in 1948, with results showing increases in sexual activity. Topics included premarital sex, extramarital sex, masturbation, and homosexual acts. Kinsey followed up that study with his report on female sexuality covering the same topics in 1953. Kinsey’s work helped to make sexual research more respectable (Thompson, 1984, p. 7). These studies helped to pave the way for further research, as done in the Playboy Foundation Survey, bringing sexual activity and experiences out into the open.

Results on Sexual Activity
Overall, “statistics revealed a marked increase in every category of sexual practice since the Kinsey Reports” (Watts, p. 304). Premarital sex occurs sooner and more frequently. Brannon (1999) explains, “a total of 97% of the unmarried men and 67% of the unmarried women reported having intercourse by age 25 years” (p. 256-257). Morton Hunt’s analysis of the Playboy survey showed there was an increase in the rate of premarital intercourse, “anywhere from three to ten times the typical rates of young women (from the) generation (before)” (Melville, 1977, p. 140). Even with the growth of premarital sex, the sexual behavior of married people has been influenced greatly as well. Hunt explains that the results show that married couples are also having sexual intercourse at higher rates, but are doing so “more imaginatively, voluptuously, and playfully” (Melville, 1977, p. 269). Results also showed a rise in orgasms in females, with 53% reporting always or almost always having an orgasm (“The Sexes”, 1973, p. 1). Even divorced people are much more likely to have sex than in generations before (Wallechinsky & Wallace, 2010). Concerning extramarital sex, Melville (1977) explains that Hunt and the Playboy Foundation’s work shows that there has not been a significant change in the number of occurrences of extramarital sex, but that 2% of couples interviewed participated in swinging. As seen in Table 11.1, there are also higher rates of masturbation (Brannon, 1999). Compared to the Kinsey studies, the Playboy Foundation Survey reported “a lower percentage and a different pattern of same-gender sexual activity (concluding) most such activity occurs as a form of adolescent experimentation” (Brannon, 1999, p. 256). Even so, 3% of females and 7% of males reported 3 or more years of homosexual activity (“Prevalence of”, 1999). Results also showed that “more people were engaging in a wider variety of sexual activities than Kinsey reported” (Brannon, 1999, p. 257). Heterosexual anal intercourse is on the rise, with “a quarter of all females and more than a quarter of all males” having at least one experience with it (“The Sexes”, 1973, p.2). Oral sex is also much more common, especially among younger males and females. There has been a 50% increase in oral sex overall (“The Sexes”, 1973).

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Implications
Among all these changes, “there have been dramatic increases in the frequency with which most Americans engage in various sexual activities and in the number of persons who include formerly rare or forbidden techniques in their sexual repertoires” (“The Sexes”, 1973, p. 1). During this time of sexual revolution, people were becoming increasingly open about their sexual experiences and what they would communicate to others. In his analysis of the study, Hunt backed up the claims of a sexual revolution due to increases in some sexual activities, as shown in the results (Brannon, 1999). In particular, from the results of large amounts of married couples engaging in oral sex, Hunt revealed “a dramatic increase in prevalence and a leveling of social class differences” (Brannon, 1999, p. 257). Besides a decrease in differences between social classes, the double standard between men and women has been disappearing, as seen through the results than men and women are increasingly equal in their occurrence of sexual activity (Brannon, 1999). This has also been seen in the changing dynamics of married couples. In his discussion of the survey results, Morton Hunt explains the effects that women’s liberation has had on marriage, in that impotence is now on the rise, or “the failure of the male to function, as a result of the new assertiveness of women” (Melville, 1977, p. 260). Watts (2008) also explained that results showed “this sexual sea change had become highly visible in the media and a major issue for the public” (p. 304). Sex was now becoming a publicly discussed topic as surveys like these delivered more information. The Playboy Foundation Survey was a way to learn about the sexual repertoire of America, and in doing so, led to further research and discussion on the topic. Although sex is much more prevalent in the media today, this survey came during a time in which sex was becoming a visible topic, forcing many to acknowledge its existence in society.

Limitations
There has been some controversy over the study concerning limitations and bias. The Playboy Foundation Survey had a much smaller sample than the Kinsey studies (although researchers adjusted for the differences) and was not conducted by trained social scientists (“The Sexes”, 1973). Questions have also been raised on whether the sample used was representative of the population. According to Brannon (1999), only 20% of those contacted agreed to participate, although “Hunt contended that the sample matched characteristics of the U.S. population in terms of ethnic background, education, age, and marital status” (p. 256). The people contacted who agreed to participate “were undoubtedly more sexually liberal”, as they were comfortable offering up a lot of information on their views of sex and their sexual history (Melville, 1977, p. 268). Melville (1977) further explains that this factor led to an overestimation of the extent of change that occurred since the Kinsey studies. Regardless, the Playboy Foundation Survey has helped to show changes in the sexual behavior of Americans during a time of sexual revolution, in which many of the ways people learned sexual social norms was changing.

References
(1973, October 1). The Sexes: A Sex Poll (1973). Time Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,942715,00.html.
(1999, June). Prevelance of Homosexuality: Brief Summary of U.S. Studies. The Kinsey Institute. Retrieved from http://www.kinseyinstitute.org/resources/bib-homoprev.html#Hunt1974.
Brannon, L. (1999). Gender: Psychological Perspectives. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Brannon, L. (1999). Table 11.1 [Image of table]. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Melville, K. (1977). Marriage and Family Today. New York: Random House.
The Playboy Foundation [Image of symbol]. Retreived from http://www.playboyenterprises.com/home/content.cfm?content=t_template&packet=0007B308-45F5-1C7D-9B578304E50A011A&artTypeID=0007B451-BB99-1C76-8FEA8304E50A010D.
Thompson, R. (1984). Sexual Revolution Reconsidered. Editorial Research Reports 1984, 3. Retrieved from http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre1984071300.
Wallechinsky, D. & Wallace, I. (2010). History of Sex Surveys: Sexual Behavior in the 1970s Part 1. Trivia Library. Retrieved from http://www.trivia-library.com/a/history-of-sex-surveys-sexual-behavior-in-the-1970s-part-1.htm.
Watts, S. (2008). Mr. Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.