Sex in America
To the Editor:
In “Sex Among the Americans” [June], Joseph Adelson claims that sociologists who interviewed a sample of Americans about their sex lives used “several methods of checking the veracity of [their] responses. . . .”
Mr. Adelson would have done us a service if he had described these methods and their results. A large body of research tells us to take with a skeptical grain of salt what people tell strangers about such matters as their ages, incomes, occupations, ethnicity, voting behavior, criminal activity, etc. Even husbands and wives tell different stories when asked about their intimate lives. For example, a study of married couples in Toronto finds that they seldom agree about “who gets his/her way in a dispute” . . . or whether “lack of privacy ever prevented intercourse.” . . . They concur only moderately about the number of hours they spent together the day before the interview . . . and how frequently they fight. And their reports of the frequency of sexual intercourse during the four weeks preceding the interview also agree only modestly.
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