What Does Your Search History Say About You?


– We all exaggerate and lie but alone on the Internet our Google search history quickly reveals the truth. With over three billion searches per day, we can discover a lot about human desires and our secret insecurities. So, how do you relate to this data? First off, people are struggling to have sex. Searches for “sexless marriage” are 3.5 times more common than “unhappy marriage” and 8 times more than loveless marriage. And, while the assumption may be that women have lower libido than men, women are actually twice as likely to search for”my boyfriend won’t have sex with me” compared to men searching “my girlfriend won’t have sex with me”. And, if you’re worried that you aren’t having as much sex as others, just know they’re exaggerating, too. In terms of heterosexual sex, a large survey found that women say they have sex 55 times each year, using a condom 16% of the time, meaning 1.1 billion condoms a year. Men claim to be using 1.6 billion condoms. But only 600 million condoms are sold in America each year. Perhaps this lack of sex is rooted in physical insecurities. Unsurprisingly, men Google about their penises more than any other body part, in fact, more than lungs, liver, feet, ears, nose, throat and brain combined. For every one search made by a woman about their partner’s phallus, there are roughly 170 searches men make about their own. But guys, don’t fret too much about your size, as 40% of women are complaining that it’s too big, causing pain. When women search about their vaginas, 30% of questions are related to how others perceive them, particularly the smell. Women are also twice as likely to look up how to perform better oral sex compared to men. And when men do search about oral sex tips, they’re just as likely to research how to perform it on a partner as they are to Google how to perform it on themselves. When it comes to pornography, of the top 100 searches on Porn Hub, 16 of them are incest themed for men and 9 for women, such as “brother and sister”, “stepmom son”, “father and daughter” and “real brother and sister”. Pornography searches can also help answer big questions about human sexuality. In America, 5% of all porn searches among men are for gay porn. But survey data and Facebook reports show that only 2 to 3% of men identify as gay. The population of self-identified, openly gay men is twice as high in Rhode Island, the state with the highest support for gay marriage compared to Mississippi, the state with the lowest support. One explanation is that those living in intolerant states move to more open states. But statistics show this only accounts for half the difference. Sadly, millions of Americans are living in the closet. Pair that with Google Autocomplete which calibrates based on the most popular searches, and you’ll see that when you type in “Is my husband” it Autocompletes to “gay” Women are 10% more likely to type this in than “Is my husband cheating?” which is the second most common option. In 21 of the 25 states where “Is my husband gay” is most frequently searched, Support for gay marriage is lower than the national average. The same can be said for causal encounters on Craigslist where ads for men seeking men are larger in less tolerant states with highest percentages in Kentucky, Louisiana and Alabama. Google Autocomplete won’t suggest certain words it deems inappropriate like “cock” or “porn”, but if you type in “is it normal to want to”, Google used to suggest “kill”. Similarly, few would want to admit they regret having children, but adults with children are 3.6 times more likely to tell Google they regret having them than adults without children will say they regret not having kids. Google also reveals how racism is still alive and well. The n-word is searched with the same frequency as the “Lakers” and “migraine” with 20% of the searches including the term “jokes”. On Obama’s first election night in 2008, when a lot of commentary focused on praise over the historic night, 1 in 100 searches that included the word “Obama” also included KKK or the n-word. Stereotypically, many assume most racism exists in the southern states, but the highest racists search results were in upstate New York, western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. Statistician Nate Silver found that the greatest correlation for predicting the Trump primary support wasn’t unemployment, gun ownership, religion or rates of immigration but Google searches for the n-word. Facebook data scientists have used status updates to measure the gross national happiness on each day, and Christmas appears to be the happiest day of the year. This is reflected in Gallup polls and Google searches as well, but it’s also important to be skeptical of how people appear on social media. Respected magazine The Atlantic has 1.5 million followers on Twitter while only 18 thousand follow the National Enquirer, a gossipy tabloid. But, both have around the same physical and online circulation. Or, consider the way a woman will describe her husband on Facebook versus Google searches. On Facebook, the top terms for a husband is “the best”, “my best friend”, “amazing”, “the greatest” and “so cute” while the top searches on Google related to their husband is “gay”, “a jerk”, “amazing”, “annoying” and “mean”. We decided to take a look into each other’s search history and found out some pretty interesting things about one another. You can watch that video by clicking here. The research for this episode came from the fascinating book Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz. We highly recommend it. And subscribe for more weekly science videos every Thursday.

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