The Perfect Day for a Woman? How About Hours of Sex?

August 2012

Are you a woman who is looking to increase your personal happiness? Here is a daily schedule that new research claims will increase your life satisfaction!

First of all, make sure you put aside enough time for sex—106 minutes each and every day, to be precise. Now it might be tempting to save up and have twelve and half hours of sex on the weekend, but for reasons I am going to discuss in a minute, you probably shouldn’t do that. And it’s not just because that might send your partner to the hospital in need of an IV (it happens, trust me).

Next you will want to spend almost equal amounts of time socializing, relaxing, eating and praying—about an hour and fifteen minutes of each. That might sound like too much, it is a total of five hours a day after all, but with all that sex you’ll be having you will need all the eating, relaxing and praying you can muster.

Another four hours should be spent divided between working out (presumably with a focus on quad strengthening), talking on the phone, watching TV and shopping (I can guess this is for lubricants, but I suppose it might include food).

Approximately 50 minutes each day should be spent on each of the following activities: preparing food, working on the computer, doing housework, napping and caring of your children (46 minutes with the little darlings is more than enough time to ensure your well-being).

Throw in a 33-minute commute to work and a 36-minute workday, and you have a woman’s perfect day!

Okay, so this time allocation might seem rather bizarre, but the calculations are based on solid empirical evidence and economic theory.

Back in 2003, just over nine hundred employed (Texan) women were asked to give a detailed account of their activities in the previous day and to report how each activity made them feel. The original researchers used these accounts to rank activities based on how each increased a woman’s life satisfaction, with “intimate relations” ending up at the top of the list and commuting at the bottom.[1]

This new research takes that same data and applies an economic theory that says that happiness is maximized when the marginal utility of time spend on each daily activity is exactly equal – that is, when the last minute spent on each activity increases happiness by an equal amount.[2]

This theory is based on the assumption of diminishing marginal utility—each additional minute spent on an activity increases happiness by slightly less than the previous minute spent on that same activity.

In this model a woman’s happiness is maximized when the last minute spent having sex (here, the 106th minute) makes her exactly happy as the last minute spent at work (here, the 36th minute) and the last minute spent commuting (here, the 33rd minute).

And, if she was (foolishly) spending 107 minutes a day having sex and 32 minutes a day commuting, then she could always increase her total personal happiness by spending one less minute having sex and spending one additional minute commuting; the added minute spent commuting will increase her total happiness by more it would be decreased by the subtracted minute having sex.

The take way here is that when sex becomes less fun than commuting, it is probably time to take a break.

The obvious problem with this approach is that it forgets that while individuals experience diminishing marginal utility in each activity, over the course of a week there might be a time allocation that would make her happier.

For example, who wouldn’t prefer commuting to work one day a week and putting in a four-hour workday to commuting seven days a week for a 36-minute workday?

That and the assumption there is no cumulative effect of diminishing marginal utility over time. In reality having two hours of sex today is likely to make you far happier than having two hours of sex every, single, day of the year.

It will probably not make you less happy than riding the bus, but my guess is that after a while you will wish that you were doing other fun things – like spending time with the kids.

[1] Kahneman, D., A. Krueger, D. Schkade, N. Schwarz and A. Stone (2004). “Toward National Well-Being Accounts,” The American Economic Review, Vol. 94, No. 2, 429-434.

[2] Kroll, Christian and Sebastian Pokutta (2013) “Just a perfect day? Developing a happiness optimised day schedule.” Journal of Economic Psychology, Vol. 34, 210–217.

This post was originally published on my blog at Psychology Today

Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.