A team of psychologists from Oakland University have attempted to uncover the cognitive reasons behind fake orgasms, and have gone as far as to create the Reasons for Pretending Orgasm Inventory (RPOI) from their findings. This list of 63 motives for women to falsify their sexual enjoyment can be divided into three basic sub-categories: Improve Partner’s Sexual Experience, Deception and Manipulation, and Hiding Sexual Disinterest.
The data builds on pre-existing theories which suggest that women may pretend to climax as a mate-retention strategy, indicating that while this need does drive such behavior to an extent, there are also a number of other motivations for doing so. For instance, factors related to Deception and Manipulation – which include reasons such as “I am insecure because I do not have orgasms,” and “I am planning to use the faked orgasm to get back at my partner for something” – reveal that fabricated pleasure can serve a number of hidden purposes.
To conduct the study – which appeared earlier this year in the journal Evolutionary Psychology – researchers generated a list of 303 reasons why a woman may fake an orgasm, before whittling this down to 95 based on literature searches and suggestions from colleagues. Two hundred and eighty-six women were then recruited to rate how frequently each reason applied to their own experiences, helping the researchers to create the final RPOI. This, the study claims, is “useful as a structured means for assessing women’s reasons for pretending orgasm.”
After taking part in the study, participants were then asked to complete a demographic survey called the Mate Retention Inventory (MRI), which seeks to determine the frequency with which certain mate-retention strategies are performed. Researchers noted that, on the whole, scores obtained using the RPOI could be used to predict overall scores on the MRI, revealing that the desire to maintain a relationship is indeed a key driver of faked orgasms. This particularly relates to those reasons which fall into the category of Improving Partner’s Sexual Experience, such as “I want to appear sexier for my partner.”
When it comes to real orgasms, meanwhile, scientists have come up with a number of theories as to why women experience moments of climax during sexual intercourse. Among these is the idea that the contraction of the peristaltic muscles produces an “upsuck” effect, decreasing the amount of sperm lost in “flowback” and thus increasing the likelihood of successful fertilization. However, regardless of the true function of the genuine female orgasm, it seems that the false orgasm may also serve a number of vital purposes relating to the regulation and manipulation of sexual relationships. This may explain some of the findings generated by a number of other studies, which indicate that around half of all women report faking an orgasm at some point in their lives.