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Severe and impulsive promiscuity, along with a compulsive urge to engage in illicit sex with attached individuals is a common symptom of borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder but most promiscuous individuals do not have these disorders. The study measured one-night stands, attitudes to casual sex, and number of sexual partners.
Britain's position on the international index "may be linked to increasing social acceptance of promiscuity among women as well as men".
A nonscientific survey conducted in 2007 by condom-maker Durex measured promiscuity by a total number of sexual partners.
The survey found Austrian men had the highest number of sex partners of males globally with 29.3 sexual partners on average.
A 2006 systematic review (analyzing data from 59 countries worldwide) found no association between regional sexual behavior tendencies, such as number of sexual partners, and sexual-health status.
Much more predictive of sexual-health status are socioeconomic factors like poverty and mobility. university study of international promiscuity found that Finns have had the largest number of sex partners in the industrialized world, and British people have the largest number among big western industrial nations.
Accurately assessing people's sexual behavior is difficult, since strong social and personal motivations occur, depending on social sanctions and taboos, for either minimizing or exaggerating reported sexual activity.
In biology, incidents of promiscuity in species that form pair bonds are usually called extra-pair copulations.The term can carry a moral judgment if the social ideal for sexual activity is monogamous relationships.A common example of behavior viewed as promiscuous by many cultures is the one-night stand, and its frequency is used by researchers as a marker for promiscuity.A 1994 study in the United States, which looked at the number of sexual partners in a lifetime, found 20% of heterosexual men had only one partner, 55% had two to 20 partners, and 25% had more than 20 partners.
General Social Survey data indicates that the distribution of partner numbers among men who have sex exclusively with men and men who have sex exclusively with women is similar, but that differences appear in the proportion of those with very high number of partners, which is larger among gay men, but that in any case makes up a small minority for both groups.
Britain’s ranking was "ascribed to factors such as the decline of religious scruples about extramarital sex, the growth of equal pay and equal rights for women and a highly sexualised popular culture".