“The Coolidge Effect” is a term coined by Ethologist Frank A. Beach, a researcher, known for his studies in psychobiological brain functions and sexual behavior in mammals. In 1955, Beach was at a psychology conference where he was presenting his recent findings on a study on the reproductive behaviors of rats. One of his students suggested that the study be named, “The Coolidge Effect” based on this joke:
“The President and Mrs. Coolidge were being shown [separately] around an experimental government farm. When [Mrs. Coolidge] came to the chicken yard she noticed that a rooster was mating very frequently. She asked the attendant how often that happened and was told, “Dozens of times each day.” Mrs. Coolidge said, “Tell that to the President when he comes by.” Upon being told, President asked, “Same hen every time?” The reply was, “Oh, no, Mr. President, a different hen every time.” President: “Tell that to Mrs. Coolidge.”
Thus the term, “The Coolidge Effect” was born. The study basically shows that male rats when exposed to new female rats were able to ejaculate again and again. Most male mammals have a refractory period after ejaculating when their bodies need to recover, before being able to ejaculate again. In this study and others, a male would typically be exhausted after copulating with several rats repeatedly. He would then be unable to continue until exposed to a new female rat at which point he could perform again. The same has basically been proven for women. The point being that newness can inspire desire and excitement and improve one’s sexual functioning. Then the question becomes, does long-term monogamy kill desire? Can one have good sex in an ongoing long-term relationship? It ultimately comes down to biology versus bonding. The excitement of a new partner is fabulous and it certainly can create a burst of desire and the thrill of the unexpected, but can you continue to have great sex with a partner of many years? Absolutely.