There’s little consensus over the use of the word in scientific studies, an analysis shows
MILWAUKEE — When it comes to the sex lives of animals, scientists have a slate of explicit terms to describe the proclivities of species. But researchers may be playing a little fast and loose with one of those words. Just what sort of activity qualifies an animal as promiscuous?
A review of almost 350 studies published in scientific journals in 2015 and 2016 found that the label was being applied to a surprisingly wide range of mating behaviors in animals, including humans. “This idea of promiscuity seems to mean different things to different people,” says Sarah Jane Alger, a behavioral neurobiologist at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point.
Promiscuity was referenced in about half of the studies, says Alger, a coauthor on the study presented August 3 at the annual