Let’s face it—there’s a definite divide on those who agree with/enjoy the 50 Shades of Grey series and those who disagree/dislike it. But whatever your stance, one thing is for sure—it paved the way for more discussions and interest in the realm of BDSM in the public domain. 


From kink-enthusiasts to bored folks looking to spice things up, this book actively brought the practice of BDSM into mainstream culture. But these are not the only people whose ears have propped up...  


Researchers across the globe began looking into the art of BDSM, finding out what kinds of people love it, why they love it, how prevalent it is, and the personality traits of those who practice it. 


But given the diversity of the practice, it’s been quite a struggle for these researchers to really pinpoint how many people are actually active in the BDSM community. 


One study looked at a large sample of Australians which revealed that only 1.3 percent of women had been involved in bondage and discipline or sadism and masochism in the last year, while 2.2 percent of men agreed to the same.


On the higher spectrum, a different study conducted over the Internet by Canadian researchers, Christian Joyal and colleagues, found that 64.6 percent of women and 53.3 percent of men had sexual fantasies about being sexually dominated.


What does that tell us? A lot, actually. For one, data is more accurate depending on the way in which the question is asked (BDSM is composed of so many different facets), and two, the location of where the data is collected can be a big influencer.

Personality Traits of Those Who Love BDSM

In a study by Dutch researchers, Andreas Wismeijer and Marcel van Assen, nearly 1500 people were given standard personality tests. 902 of these participants were BDSM enthusiasts while 434 were control samples. What they found was:


  • BDSM players were less neurotic, more conscientious, more extraverted, more open-minded, less sensitive to rejection, and showed a greater level of personal well-being.
  • BDSM players showed lower levels of agreeableness.
  • Both the BDSM players and the control group were tested as psychologically healthy.
  • Doms scored the highest when it came to being mentally healthy.
  • Subs scored the second highest when it came to being mentally healthy.
  • Those in the control group came in last when it came to being mentally healthy.

In a different study done by Pamela Connoly, a New Zealand psychologist, both BDSM players and non-BDSM players were compared using a set of data. The research found that:


  • BDSM players had lower levels of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and paranoia.
  • BDSM players showed higher levels of dissociation and narcissism.

What Do BDSM Players Love About BDSM?

In a separate study done at Idaho State University, nearly 1000 BDSM players were asked about what they love about practicing BDSM. The results showed that:


  • 90 percent loved the personal freedom
  • 91 percent loved the adventure aspect
  • 91 percent felt it to be a form of self-expression
  • 91 percent felt it to be a form of stress relief
  • 97 percent agreed that practicing BDSM brought about positive emotions
  • 99 percent simply loved the pleasure that it brought them

And lastly, Joe Magliano Ph.D and his team of researchers too looked into the different personality traits of those who are active in the BDSM community. They found that:


  • Bottoms and tops both experienced an increase in relationship closeness, and a decrease in psychological stress, after a scene
  • Bottoms showed an increase in physiological stress after a scene

Why the disconnect? With further research, it was found that both bottoms and tops actually enter an altered state of consciousness during a scene. 


Bottoms entered a state called “transient hypofrontality” and this causes them to feel reduced levels of pain, higher levels of peacefulness, and a distorted reality of time.


Tops however entered a state called “flow” which causes them to become more focused, less self-conscious, and to experience optimal performance on tasks.


So, at the end of the day, it looks as though those who are active in the BDSM community are doing pretty well for themselves, right?!