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Men and women lie about sex to match gender stereotypes

A study found that both men and women tend to lie when it comes sex, often subscribing to gender 'roles' that are widely accepted by the society despite feeling and believing otherwise. Participants for this study were 293 college students between the ages of 18 and 25.

sex and relationships Updated: May 30, 2013 15:31 IST

Men and women will lie about their sexual behavior to match cultural expectations about how they should act – even though they wouldn’t distort other gender-related behaviors, a new research has suggested.

The study found that men were willing to admit that they sometimes engaged in behaviors seen by college students as more appropriate for women, such as writing poetry.

The same was true for women, who didn’t hide the fact that they told obscene jokes, or sometimes participated in other “male-type” deeds.

But when it came to sex, men wanted to be seen as “real men:” the kind who had many partners and a lot of sexual experience. Women, on the other hand, wanted to be seen as having less sexual experience than they actually had, to match what is expected of women.

“There is something unique about sexuality that led people to care more about matching the stereotypes for their gender,” said Terri Fisher, author of the study and professor of psychology at The Ohio State University’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,” Fisher noted.

Fisher discovered how people would honestly respond to questions about sexuality and other gender-role behaviors by asking some study participants questions when they thought they were hooked up to a lie detector machine.

Participants were 293 college students between the ages of 18 and 25.

This result confirms what Fisher found in an earlier study, back in 2003 – with one important difference.

Back 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 this new study, women actually reported more sexual partners than men when they were both hooked up to a lie detector and thought they had to be truthful.

Fisher said the results of the study might actually be stronger than what was found here.

The study appeared in a recent issue of the journal Sex Roles.

First Published: May 29, 2013 17:18 IST