Heightened extraversion and reduced agreeableness are both personality traits associated with a higher number of sexual partners, according to a new study published in Psychology & Sexuality. The research also found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual people tend to report having more sexual partners than heterosexual people.
“The number of sexual partners is one of the most important dimensions of sexual behavior. It should be assumed that if people differ in terms of sexual behavior, then any sexual contact with another person may affect sexual satisfaction, due to comparing sexual experiences related to various partners,” explained researcher Aleksandra Rogowska, an associate professor at the University of Opole in Poland.
“Unfortunately, little is known about the determinants of the number of sexual partners. In particular, we do not know much about the association between personality traits and the number of sexual partners. We were interested in whether this relationship differs in lesbian, gay, bisexual (LGB), and heterosexual people.”
For the study, Rogowska and her colleagues surveyed 768 Polish individuals aged between 16 and 42 regarding their gender, sexual orientation, sexual activity, and personality traits. They found that both sexual orientation and personality predicted the number of lifetime sexual partners.
“This research confirmed that LGB people have more sexual partners over their lifetime when compared to heterosexual people. What’s interesting, women did not differ significantly from men in the number of sexual partners over their lifetime,” Rogowska told PsyPost.
“In our study, those individuals higher in extroversion and lower in agreeableness tended to have more sexual partners. Extroverted individuals may be characterized by greater motivation for social contact and present high levels of excitation and low inhibition, which may facilitate sexual partnerships. Moreover, this association was stronger for men and increases in both sexes with age.
“On the other hand, a significantly higher number of sexual partners have been noted in introverted women (when compared to introverted men). Moreover, sexual orientation moderated the relation between emotional stability and the number of sexual partners,” Rogowska continued.
“In contrast to heterosexual participants, bisexual and homosexual individuals reported more sexual partners if they were more emotionally stable. This association was stronger for bisexual people in comparison to the homosexual sample. Bisexual individuals seem lower levels of anxiety and uncertainty about sexual orientation, when compared to heterosexual and homosexual people.”
The study — like all research — includes some limitations.
“Sexual behavior is strongly related to cultural norms, religion, and many other environmental factors. Thus, more cross-cultural research is needed to find the relationship between the number of sexual partners and personality, taking into account gender, age, and sexual identification, as well as many other variables,” Rogowska said.
The study, “The Relationship of Number of Sexual Partners with Personality Traits, Age, Gender and Sexual Identification“, was authored by Aleksandra Rogowska, Magdalena Tofel, Barbara Zmaczyńska-Witek, and Zofia Kardasz.