(updated on 2/21/99)
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The following table (see below summary) describes the percentages of characteristics for those thumbsuckers who filled out the form at this site and at the original site, "Thumbody", started by Brian. It is in large measure for Brian's efforts that we have these statistics at all. If you've already filled his survey there is no need to fill the one at this site.
Ideally I would like to obtain a large, randomly selected population of respondants in order to determine the percentage of adults who still suck their thumb. My own feeling is that there are at least one million adult thumbsuckers in the United States. Unfortunately I haven't figured out a data recovery way to do this as of this date. If you have any ideas for this page, e-mail me with them.
In analysing the contents of the table see the summary below:
1. It's apparent that those of you who respond are two thirds female and only one third male. This conforms to the preconceived notion that thumbsucking, taken into adulthood favors the female over the male, perhaps due to the social values and stereotypes of society at large.
2. After age 28 or so, there is a sharp fall-off of respondants. Since these statistics aren't a result of a random survey of a large cross-section of the population, it's hard to determine what this means, if anything. But, perhaps it may indicate that thumbsucking starts to reduce itself, among adults, sometime after this age. It may also mean that there is a larger percentage of the population in this age category who use the Internet and, therefore, it stands to reason that they'd be overrepresented. I'd say, though, most probably it's a safe bet that this part of the statistics indicates the age levels, as a percentage, of those visiting the site.
3. As for the effect thumbsucking had on adult dentition, roughly one fourth of respondants had either crooked or bucked teeth, with bucked teeth comprising the result in two third of those so affected. Nevertheless, the majority of respondants, about 60%, had no effect at all. This is in agreement with the generally accepted idea that the effect thumbsucking has on the teeth is a function of sucking technique and force, even more than duration. Though it's too early to tell, we've obtained a figure of 40% of respondants needing braces at one time in their lives. Perhaps after obtaining more respondants for this index, we may come to a different conclusion.
4. Only approximately one fourth of the respondants had calluses, a surprising finding, at least to me. I would venture to say that there may be a correlation with callus and effect on teeth, though I haven't analysed the stats with an eye towards this (perhaps in the future?). The thumbsucker's callus occurs as a direct result of pressure from the lower dentition directly onto the thumb. Technique is very important here also. A majority, 58%, of the respondants had some affect on their thumb though.
5. Almost half the respondants suck their left thumb, with a slight, though significant,decrease in the number of right thumb thumb suckers. A small percentage, 6.74%, suck both their thumbs. Though there is a practical reason for the majority to be left thumb suckers (most of the population is right handed, and it would therefore be practical to suck the lesser used, left thumb) the fact that right thumb sucking is significant (41.57%) may indicate that the majority of adult thumbsucking is done during sedentary activities and therefore the choice of thumb isn't dependent on which thumb is chosen.
6. The predominant associated comfort behavior is placing the finger over the nose. This, of course, makes sense since it allows for a deeper thumb position and a more comfortablesucking experience. What is surprising, though, is that a little over 1 in 4 adult thumb sucking respondants use a "blankie". It's possible that the blanket behavior allows for the ability to effectively hide the habit from unexpected discovery. Perhaps, also, the blanket closes off the outside world, in a ritualistic fashion. It is well know that many thumbsuckers attach themselves to a soft material for the added comfort it gives to the skin surrounding the mouth and for the odor that also may function to 'close off' the surrounding world. Of course, old habits may play here also.
7. Roughly one in four respondants masturbate while sucking their thumb (while statistics were being obtained on this index). Perhaps thumb sucking adds to the erotic experience by engaging more tactile regions of the body, or perhaps thumb sucking provides for some other means of heightening the experience.
8. Among our respondants there is an equal percentage that were and were not breast fed. This is surprising in light of conventional wisdom. It has been assumed that inadequate breastfeeding would result in an increased pressure towards thumb sucking. As such we would expect to see a much higher percentage of non-breastfed respondants in our sample than the general population in the U.S. (the great proportion of respondants are from the U.S.) Perhaps the sample is too small to be of statistical significance, but it's worth pursuing the questions that the initial results may pose.
9. There is a significant differences, in our sample, between current smoking adult thumb suckers and percentage of smokers in the United States adult population, roughly half. Perhaps the adult thumb sucker is more resistant to peer pressure, the most popular reason to for starting to smoke. Perhaps the thumb sucker's identity precludes the appeal of smoking. It's hard to tell without in depth, individual interviews. Hopefully, the questions posed by these statistics will allow for a future scientific sampling that would allow for the answers to this and other questions.
10. It was surprising to see such a significant percentage of previous pacifier users (37.5%). I had previously assumed that pacifier use among thumb suckers would have been next to zero percent. This is another area worth exploring.
|Sex||Percent of Total|
|Needed Braces||13||40.63%||(figures since respondant 57)|
|Different or with red marks||28||31.82%|
|Rituals||Percentage of Rituals of those engaged in Rituals|
|Masturbate||22||24.44%||(% reflects lower total respondants asked)|
|Stroke Lip with finger or object||3||2.27%|
|Pillow held and/or smelled||3||2.27%|
|Play with Navel||1||0.76%|
|Plays with shirt tags||1||0.76%|
|Plays with other fingers||1||0.76%|
|Total Rituals Stated||132|
|Breastfed or not?|
|No response, probably not.||11||45.83%|