Numerous studies have documented the prevalence of fake orgasms during sexual activity, but few have looked at what motivates this form of pretending. A new study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior suggests the motivations for faking an orgasm are variable and complex. The study developed a list of reasons for faking an orgasm, named the Pretending Orgasm Reasons Measure.
Faked orgasms can affect sexual satisfaction and relationship health. Many people mistakenly believe only women fake orgasms when they are not enjoying sex. However, this study found relatively high rates of faked orgasms among both men and women, who often faked orgasms to improve their relationship or to make their partner feel good.
Why Do People Fake Orgasms?
The study involved three separate trials that attempted to identify the reasons for faked orgasms. In a small study of 46 men and women, researchers developed a comprehensive list of reasons people fake orgasms. Previous research into motivations for fake orgasms has looked primarily at women. This study aimed to expand the research to men.
Next, the team asked 416 college students to select which reasons had previously motivated their own feigned orgasms. They repeated this study with a larger sample of 1,010.
The results indicate 76% of women have faked an orgasm at least once, and 41% of men say they have also faked an orgasm. The six most prominent reasons for faked orgasms were:
- Not enjoying sex
- Pleasure associated with faking an orgasm
- Faking for partner’s benefit
- To manipulate or gain power over a partner
- To support emotional communication
Other Research on Fake Orgasms
Research published in 2016 found sexism may play a role in some fake orgasms. One study found women who were involved with domineering men and who supported benevolently sexist notions were more likely to fake orgasms. Another study found women sometimes fake orgasms to end unwanted sex.
A 2014 study found women fake orgasms to spare a partner’s feelings, to avoid unpleasant feelings associated with sex, or to end sex. However, some women also fake orgasms to increase their own arousal in an effort to reach a real orgasm. Some people may be diagnosed with orgasmic disorder, meaning they are unable to orgasm due to an issue related to physical or mental health, such as feelings of shame about sex, cultural messages about sexuality, or sexual trauma.
- Dockterman, E. (2014, March 26). Women may fake orgasms for pleasure sometimes, study says. Retrieved from http://time.com/38753/women-may-fake-orgasms-for-pleasure-study-says/
- Goodman, D. L., Gillath, O., & Haj-Mohamadi, P. (2017). Development and validation of the pretending orgasms reasons measure. Archives of Sexual Behavior. doi:10.1007/s10508-016-0928-7
- Singal, J. (n.d.). Researchers are trying to understand better why people fake orgasms. Retrieved from http://www.sbs.com.au/topics/sexuality/agenda/article/2017/04/26/researchers-are-trying-understand-better-why-people-fake-orgasms
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