A study by a Temple doctoral student has found that women who fake orgasms often do so not just to please their partner, but to get a little added pleasure themselves.
Clinical psychology doctoral student Erin Cooper began her research while she was an undergraduate student at Kenyon College.
“Some friends and I were reading a women’s magazine and the phenomenon of faked orgasms was mentioned in an article,” Cooper said. “We read the article’s advice and cracked a few jokes … but then I began to wonder ‘how do they know what they’re saying is true?’ So I did what any good psychology major would do: I went to the library and did a lit search.”
Cooper said her findings surprised her: only two studies were published in peer-reviewed journals, one in 1986 and another in 1997. At the time, Cooper was in the midst of planning an independent research study, and presented the proposal to her advisor and second author on the manuscript, Allan Fenigstein. While she was a senior at Kenyon, a pilot study was conducted.
When Cooper arrived at Temple to begin the clinical psychology doctoral program, she continued her work with Psychology Chair Robert Fauber.
There were no experiments conducted to collect data. Instead, Cooper and her team gave women in their research study a series of questionnaires about their sexual experiences.
The team found that the most common motive for a faked orgasm was “altruistic deceit,” which means faking an orgasm in order to avoid hurting the partner’s feelings. According to Cooper, altruistic deceit is often deemed by popular culture to be the only reason for women faking orgasm, but her study showed otherwise.
Cooper suggests that the scale used in the study is unique because for the first time there is quantitative data suggesting other reasons for faking an orgasm.
“Women may also fake orgasm for far more ‘selfish’ reasons,” Cooper said.
The study suggests that women may fake orgasm to increase their own arousal, known as “elevated arousal.”
“I view this strategy as one of the many ‘tools in the toolbox’ women may use to enhance their own sexual experience,” Cooper said.
Logan Beck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.