The Coolidge Effect in Psychology

The Coolidge Effect in Psychology
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  • 0:02 The Coolidges
  • 0:46 The Coolidge Effect in Mammals
  • 1:59 Breeding & Population
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

The Coolidge Effect is a phenomenon based on mammal sexuality and why men specifically get tired of having sex with the same partner over time. This lesson explores the effect and its origins and why new women reinvigorate sexuality in men.

The Coolidges

The story goes that Grace Coolidge and her husband Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States, were visiting a chicken farm when they separated to see different areas. Mrs. Coolidge continued following the farmer when she saw a rooster mating with a chicken. She then looked at the farmer and asked how many times the rooster mated in a day. The farmer then explained that it was ''dozens of times'' to which Mrs. Coolidge said, ''Tell this to my husband when you see him.'' Which of course is passed onto the President when he passes by the same pen. The President then asks if the rooster does this with the same hen every time. The farmer says, ''No, it's a different hen every time.'' He then smiled and said, ''Tell that to Mrs. Coolidge.''

The Coolidge Effect in Mammals

This may or may not have actually happened, but the story has become the namesake of what is now known as the Coolidge Effect. Essentially, the Coolidge Effect is where mammals, specifically males, will be less and less intimate with a specific partner over time. Their ability to be aroused by that partner wanes and can eventually stop altogether. Yet, if you put a new partner in the equation, then arousal increases, which in turn, increases sexual activity. However, if the male has to go back to the original partner, he may lose sexual desire again.

In plain terms, a man in the dating stages will be excited for sex and the occurrences of intimacy are frequent. However, over time and after marriage, it can dwindle to almost nothing. However, if they break up and he gains a new partner, the sexual occurrences will increase yet again. This also happens with bulls and sheep but to a much larger degree.

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