The Great Porn Experiment

One of the major influences for Wonder Fools at the beginning of ‘The Coolidge Effect’ is Gary Wilson’s TED talk ‘The Great Porn Experiment’. In his 16-minute-long lecture, Wilson outlines the basic theory behind what has become known as the Coolidge Effect and its psychological and physical impacts on the human body.

The theory behind the Coolidge Effect is complex and can be tricky to wrap your head around, particularly to begin with – this blog attempts to address that!

In his TED Talk, Gary Wilson gives an example of the Coolidge Effect. The experiment was originally conducted with rats by American ethologist Frank A. Beach, which you can learn more about in our blog ‘1955 – The Coolidge Effect’. The diagram below shows this experiment using mice. Wilson gives the example of one male mouse having sex with another female mouse. As they continue to mate repeatedly, the male takes longer to ejaculate. However, when presented with a new female, the time for ejaculation reduces considerably.

This is the Coolidge Effect: it demonstrates that sexual arousal increases when presented with new prospective partners. It appears to denounce monogamy but in fact it does not, the theory merely poses that it is variety not the act of sex that is crucial to maintaining sexual interest. (WF Edit: This variety can be achieved by simply “spicing up your love life”). Gary Wilson predominantly evidences the Coolidge Effect in young men but we believe its psychological and physical impacts can affect any gender.

What interests Wonder Fools about the Coolidge Effect is what happens when pornography gives us an unlimited supply of variety. The internet has exploded our options. We can access pornographic videos and explicit images anytime anywhere. In the original Coolidge Effect experiment, Frank A. Beach concluded that the rats would never stop mating as long as new females were introduced. In his TED Talk Gary Wilson asks: if the variety never stops what happens next? Wonder Fools’ ‘The Coolidge Effect’ attempts to investigate this.

This blog covers the Coolidge Effect on a very basic level. If you are interested in the topic, please see the TED Talk at the bottom of this article for Gary Wilson’s full lecture. In addition, if you want to find out more information or have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact Wonder Fools.

Gary Wilson is a physiology teacher with a particular interest in the latest neuroscience discoveries. Wilson is the host of www.yourbrainonporn.com, an online community which offers support for those affected by internet pornography. You can watch the full TED Talk here: bit/ly/greatpornexperiment