Lie About Sex: How Do Men And Women Report Sexual History Differently?

By Philip Ross on May 30, 2013 5:14 PM EDT

sex lie study
Do you lie about your sex life? Chances are, you do. However, men and women differ in the way they bluff. (Photo: Reuters)

We all lie about sex, especially when it comes to our numbers of sexual partners. But, not all of us bluff the same way. According to a new study on gender expectations and sexual history, men and women lie about their sex lives in very different ways.

A research team from Ohio State University, led by Terri Fisher, a Professor of Psychology at the university, studied the way in which men and women recall past sexual encounters. According to the Los Angeles Times, the team surveyed 293 heterosexual female and male college students with an average age of 18. They questioned the students about their sexual histories, and compared their responses regarding their sex lives to their replies about less erotic activities, like cooking.

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The paper, published Tuesday in the journal Sex Roles, says that men tend to over-report their sexual histories by one partner, and that women tended to subtract one. But, when attached to a polygraph test, those numbers changed; men reported fewer sexual partners, and women reported more.

Fisher and her team hooked some of the subjects up to fake lie detectors and asked them a series of 124 questions -- several about sex, others about things like petting a cat, cooking or changing a car tire.

According to Live Science, when asked questions of a non-sexual nature, the students did not feel pressured to conform to gender roles in their reporting. For example, the women connected to the fake lie detector were just as likely as the women without a polygraph machine to say that they participated in stereotypical male activities, like lifting weights.

But when it came to sex, the gender role gap reemerged.

"Men and women had different answers about their sexual behavior when they thought they had to be truthful," Fisher added in a statement. "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."

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