Men and women lie about sex to protect how they are viewed by others.
Yes, we know. Hardly news. Most of us have probably been lying for years — God knows, I have — but a new study released on Tuesday by Ohio State University scientifically confirms it.
“There is something unique about sexuality that led people to care more about matching the stereotypes for their gender,” said Terri Fisher, the study’s author and a professor of psychology at OSU’s Mansfield campus. “Sexuality seemed to be the one area where people felt some concern if they didn’t meet the stereotypes of a typical man or a typical woman.”
The study involved 293 college students between the ages of 18 and 25. Each completed a questionnaire that asked how often they engaged in 124 different behaviors (from never to a few times a day) while connected to a polygraph machine.
Some people completed the questionnaire while they were attached to what they were told was a working lie detector machine. (It wasn’t.) Others were hooked up to the machine before the study began, supposedly to measure anxiety, and removed before completing the questionnaire.
The behaviors tested had been previously identified as prominent in one gender or the other by a separate study. Behavior types included writing poetry or lying about your weight (women) and wearing dirty clothes or telling obscene jokes (take a wild guess).
Behaviors like singing in the shower were identified as more negative for males, while poking fun at others and bench-pressing weights were more negative for females. Amazingly enough, neither men nor women had a problem admitting to such activities, but, when it came to their sexual behaviors, things changed.
Men reported more sexual partners when they weren’t hooked up to the lie detector than when they were, and women reported fewer. A similar pattern was discovered for reports of ever having experienced sexual intercourse.
“Men and women had different answers about their sexual behavior when they thought they had to be truthful,” Fisher said.
This study was a companion piece to a previous one that Fisher conducted in 2003. In that prior effort, she discovered that the gap between sexual activities for men and women had closed to about even. This time around, however, the ladies were said to be having more sex than the fellas.
“Society has changed, even in the past 10 years, and a variety of researchers have found that differences between men and women in some areas of sexual behavior have essentially disappeared,” Fisher said.
Don’t worry, though, guys. In 50 years, we won’t “all be chicks,” no matter what Adam Carolla has to say about it:
The report on Tuesday did not indicate at what age sexual experiences started for the subjects, but a separate study recently showed sexually active younger teens to be unlikely, with abstinence or delaying sex becoming increasingly popular options.
Strangely enough, the teens who were having sex tended to be big smartphone owners. (More reason not to buy your daughter one until she’s in college.)
Is the “news” that men and women lie about sex news to you? Have you ever lied about it?
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