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It's easy to assume, particularly if you aren't in a regular sexual relationship yourself at the moment, that other people are having far more sex than you are. They're probably at it every night while you catch up on repeats of Eastenders, right?

Wrong. Actually, other people are not likely to be having intercourse anywhere near as frequently as you think. According to a new study by King's College London, we tend to have extremely skewed perceptions of the sex lives of others - and it could be detrimental to our own psyche.

The research involved a cross-section of participants aged 18 to 29 from Britain, Australia and the US, all of whom had to guess how often people the same age had had sex in the past four weeks.

It was found that the average guess for young men was 14 times, whereas the reality is more likely to be five times in Britain and four in the US.

Interestingly, the men who were surveyed assumed young women were having sex up to 23 times a month, when the reality is closer to five. Yep, just five, guys - not every weekday and sometimes twice a day at the weekend.

This was blamed on many people getting their information about others from "playground or locker room chat, dubious surveys, salacious media coverage and porn. These provide extreme examples and dodgy anecdotes that distort our views of reality".

Another interesting aspect of the research was the number of sexual partners people have had by the time they get to 45-54.

The average in all countries was around 18 - but women claimed they had slept with far fewer partners than must actually have been the case statistically, given that male/female numbers should roughly match.

This was attributed to the male likelihood to inflate their own figures and the female tendency to deflate them. Indeed, this is something backed up by a prior US study, where participants were only likely to be honest about their number of sexual partners when they thought nobody would see the data they were giving.

The new research is set to be released in a book called The Perils of Perception, and lead author Bobby Duffy said it is a fascinating insight into the human sexual psyche.

"Our misperceptions reveal a lot about how we see the world. They are a brilliant clue to our deep-seated biases, as our guesses at what is 'normal' are more automatic and unguarded. What we're told and how we think leads many of us to get so much so wrong," he added.

It comes after a study from Ohio State University found that the number of thoughts about sex among students was not statistically larger than the number of thoughts about food and sleep, thereby quashing those rumours that men in particular are casting their minds to it every few seconds.