"Love, formally defined as a mixture of altruism and demand for togetherness,
increases the likelihood of faking" orgasms, according to a new study. Way more awesome quotes, after the jump.
The Times Freakonomics blog has the gist of the study: that younger men and women close to age 30 are less likely to fake, that educated people are more likely, that men and women fake less if they think their partner can tell (not surprising), and that they fake more when they're in love (a little more surprising). So can you tell if your partner loves you by whether he or she fakes an orgasm? Obviously, only if you can spot the play-acting — which, study author Hugh Mialon hazards, not all dudes can do. Referring to previous research on cognitive dissonance, he writes,
[P]erhaps men simply derive utility directly from believing that their partner is not faking with them because this allows them to maintain a positive image of themselves. In this case, we can get a situation in which all women have done it and yet all men still believe it has never happened to them. However, any man with this kind of behavioral bias will likely be mistaken.
It's worth noting, however, that 50% of the men in the study weren't sure if they'd be able to tell when a partner was faking — and 25% of them had faked an orgasm themselves. Meanwhile, here's how Mialon explains the love connection:
To the extent that the sender and receiver care for each other, the receiver does not like it when the sender has to incur a cost of faking, and the sender likes it when the receiver enjoys the sender's moaning. Moreover, to the extent that the sender and receiver have a demand for togetherness, the sender does not mind as much if the receiver is mistakenly confident (feeling worthy), and the receiver does not mind as much if he or she is mistakenly confident (not recoiling).
Basically, it sounds like people who love their partners are more likely to fake to make them happy, and also to let them get away with faking. Which raises the disturbing question of whether couples who are in love are actually having fewer orgasms, as a result of lying to preserve each others' feelings. Unfortunately, this isn't within the scope of the study, but as Mialon says, "In future work, it would be interesting to test the predictions of the model experimentally!"
The Economics Of Faking Ecstasy [Emory University]
Who's More Likely To Fake It In The Bedroom? [NYT Freakonomics Blog]