It's reasonable to say that good, consensual sex makes people happy. To put a number on that happiness, a previous study found that people said they'd rather have sex once a week (instead of once a month) in lieu of earning an extra $50,000 a year. But what should be noted is that how happy sex makes a person apparently depends a lot on whether that sex is followed by cuddling or not — at least according to a new study that seeks to answer the question of why sex boosts happiness.
Published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, the study is actually made up of several separate experiments. The first looked at 335 Americans in romantic relationships, and another looked to 74 couples from the San Francisco area. People involved with the study were asked about their sexual frequency, life satisfaction, and how often they touched, cuddled, or exchanged "affectionate touches." What researchers found was that while sexual frequency certainly makes people feel good, it's all the affectionate touches that really improve someone's happiness. Or in other words, cuddling matters.
Overall, researchers found that an increase in sex does correlate with "experiencing more positive emotions." More sex leads to more happiness, if only because more sex promotes affection between two people.
So trading an extra 50 grand a year may really only be worth it if the once-a-week sex you've having is good, and followed by lots of kissing and cuddling. Not that anyone's asking you to choose between one thing or the other, but, you know, fun to think about.