Americans Now Slightly More Relaxed About Casual Sex Than They Were in the ’90s

How have American opinions on sex shifted since the decade in which everyone liked to tell each other to just Chill out, man, it’s the ‘90s? A recently published study in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior touches on just that, and social psychologist Justin Lehmiller recently dug into the research to create an easy-to-read infographic, which he shared with Science of Us.

The new paper, lead authored by Jean M. Twenge at San Diego State University, uses data from the General Social Survey, a nationally representative sample of 33,380 American adults, and looks at changing attitudes from 1972 to 2012; Lehmiller, however, focused on the differences between the 1990s and now. He notes that during these years, Americans have become more accepting of casual sex, and report more sexual partners; however, despite recent media coverage of “monogamish” couples, opinions on extramarital sex have stayed pretty much the same. Attitudes can and do change, in other words, but these things happen slowly. 

Photo: Justin Lehmille/
Americans Slightly More Relaxed About Casual Sex