Sex, lies and studies
Do we feel the need to lie about our sexual behaviours in order to appease the sexual stereotypical ideals of today's society?
According to this recent study the answer is, yes.
Terri Fisher, a professor of psychology, conducted her initial survey in 2003 to determine if men and women lie about behaviours to fit in with sexual and cultural stereotypes.
Some participants completed the study while attached to what they were told was a working lie detector (that wasn't actually working) while others were connected to the lie detector before the study began, but it was then removed part way through.
From the results in 2003, women went from having fewer sexual partners than men (when not hooked up to a lie detector) to being essentially even to men (when hooked up to the lie detector.)
In 2013, a decade later, Fisher replicated the study, finding women reported more sexual partners than men when they were both hooked up to a lie detector and thought they had to be truthful.
"Society has changed in the past ten years and a variety of research has found differences between men and women in some areas of sexual behaviour have disappeared," says Fisher.
Participants were required to complete a questionnaire about how often they engaged in 124 different behaviours (from never to a few times a day).
Overall when it came to non-sexual behaviours, results showed men and women didn't feel the pressure to respond with gender based stereotypical responses.
The one exception in this study was sexual behaviour, "men and women had different answers about their sexual behaviour when they thought they had to be truthful," Fisher revealed.
Fisher's 2013 study concluded; when it comes to sex, men want to be seen as 'real men'; the kind who have had multiple partners and lots of sexual experience.
Women, on the other hand, still want to be seen as having less sexual experience than they actually have had, to match what they perceive is expected of them.
Women not linked to the lie detector still reported having fewer sexual partners, being older when they lost their virginity and having fewer one night stands.
The men went the opposite direction, men who were not linked to the lie detector claimed more sexual partners, losing their virginity at a younger age and to having more one night stands.
Fisher believes, there is something unique about sexuality that leads people to care more about matching the stereotypes for their gender.
"Sexuality seems the one area where people felt concern if they didn't meet the stereotypes of a typical man or typical woman," said Fisher.
Compared to our American counterparts, do Australian men and women feel the same pressure to embellish or play-down their sexual behaviours and history?
Lauren Micca, a 29 year-old receptionist says, "I'm not going to lie about how many men I've been with. If my friends or a future partner want to judge me for telling the truth, I am happy to show them the door!"
25 year-old Zac Hassim is a sparky and admits to stretching the truth when it comes to sex and his mates, "Yeah, of course, it's a guy thing, you tell a couple of stories, add a few extra details and make yourself look better in front of the boys."
Natalie McIntyre, a 23 year-old child care worker, admits to lying to her friends when the subject arises. "I've been with a few more men than my friends," admits Natalie. "When I was backpacking around the US for a year, I enjoyed myself, where as a lot of my girlfriends haven't even reached double digits, girls can be judgmental, so for me, it's just easier to lie."
"My girlfriend is so sweet she's only been with three men her entire life, so I've lied about how many women I've been with, because I don't want her to think I'm a complete man-whore," admits 31 year-old courier driver Mick Pengos.
33 year-old swimming teacher Amanda Patterson admits to omitting the truth when it came to telling her fiancé how many men she'd slept with. "It wasn't like there were hundreds but when I was younger, I was a bit wild, so I just told my fiancé about the main ones, I'm with him now and to me that's all that really matters."
Joe Natoli is a 36 year-old butcher who admits in his younger days he certainly told some porky-pies, "I was terrible when I was younger, during my apprenticeship I was always trying to impress the older guys, so of course I would spin stories about all the hot chicks, I'd put away on the weekend."
Do you ever feel the need to lie about your sexual behaviour to fit a certain stereotype or to appease the people close to you?
Sydney Morning Herald