The Samples Are Unsound
Breaking news: A new study reveals that the manner in which you lost your virginity will have an important impact on how you experience sex forever after.
Surprising results from odd research studies are a regular feature of the news cycle these days. But if you can get your hands on the actual research study, the design of the project might surprise you even more than the results.
The thing about that 2013 virginity study is that its subjects were extremely homogeneous. In fact, it turns out, they usually are when it comes to studies in psychology and social science.
Since many of these studies are conducted by academics, the typical sample population for such research is — surprise, surprise — college students. That makes them WEIRD — an acronym for Western, Educated and from Industrialized, Rich and Democratic countries. In other words, not exactly representative of global society as a whole.
To make matters worse, in the virginity study, researchers excluded people who had experienced violent first encounters as well as anybody experiencing anything other than heterosexual intercourse [source: Brookshire].
So next time you hear the breaking news of yet another astonishing finding about human behavior and experience, take it with a grain of salt as you wonder just who exactly was being studied.