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The Faking Orgasm Scale for Women: Psychometric Properties

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The Faking Orgasm Scale for Women (FOS) was designed to assess women's self-reported motives for faking orgasm during oral sex and sexual intercourse. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was conducted on the responses of 481 heterosexual undergraduate females (M age = 20.33 years, SD = 2.48). Results of the EFA revealed that the FOS-Sexual Intercourse Subscale was composed of four factors: (1) Altruistic Deceit, faking orgasm out of concern for a partner's feelings; (2) Fear and Insecurity, faking orgasm to avoid negative emotions associated with the sexual experience; (3) Elevated Arousal, a woman's attempt to increase her own arousal through faking orgasm; and (4) Sexual Adjournment, faking orgasm to end sex. The analysis of the FOS-Oral Sex Subscale yielded four factors: (1) Altruistic Deceit; (2) Insecure Avoidance, faking orgasm to avoid feelings of insecurity; (3) Elevated Arousal; and (4) Fear of Dysfunction, faking orgasm to cope with concerns of being abnormal. Each factor of the two subscales was found to have excellent internal consistency. Confirmatory factor analysis on a separate sample of 398 heterosexual female undergraduates (M age = 20.52 years, SD = 2.55) confirmed the factor structure of each subscale with excellent fit statistics. The FOS should allow researchers and clinicians to better understand why women fake orgasm. Deepening this understanding may serve future research examining sexual desire, satisfaction, and dysfunction as well as have applications in sex and couples' therapy.
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Archives of Sexual Behavior
The Official Publication of the
International Academy of Sex Research
ISSN 0004-0002
Volume 43
Number 3
Arch Sex Behav (2014) 43:423-435
DOI 10.1007/s10508-013-0212-z
The Faking Orgasm Scale for Women:
Psychometric Properties
Erin B.Cooper, Allan Fenigstein &
Robert L.Fauber
1 23
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ORIGINAL PAPER
The Faking Orgasm Scale for Women: Psychometric Properties
Erin B. Cooper Allan Fenigstein Robert L. Fauber
Received: 5 December 2011 / Revised: 12 October 2012 / Accepted: 7 September 2013 / Published online: 18 December 2013
ÓSpringer Science+Business Media New York 2013
Abstract The Faking Orgasm Scale for Women (FOS) was
designed to assess women’s self-reported motives for faking
orgasm during oral sex and sexual intercourse. Exploratory
factor analysis (EFA) was conducted on the responses of 481
heterosexual undergraduate females (Mage =20.33 years,
SD =2.48). Results of the EFA revealed that the FOS–Sexual
Intercourse Subscale was composed of four factors: (1)
Altruistic Deceit, faking orgasm out of concern for a partner’s
feelings; (2) Fear and Insecurity, faking orgasm to avoid
negative emotions associated with the sexual experience; (3)
Elevated Arousal, a woman’s attempt to increase her own
arousal through faking orgasm; and (4) Sexual Adjournment,
faking orgasm to end sex. The analysis of the FOS–Oral Sex
Subscale yielded four factors: (1) Altruistic Deceit; (2)
Insecure Avoidance, faking orgasm to avoid feelings of
insecurity; (3) Elevated Arousal; and (4) Fear of Dysfunction,
faking orgasm to cope with concerns of being abnormal. Each
factor of the two subscales was found to have excellent
internal consistency. Confirmatory factor analysis on a sep-
arate sample of 398 heterosexual female undergraduates
(Mage =20.52 years, SD =2.55) confirmed the factor
structure of each subscale with excellent fit statistics. The
FOS should allow researchers and clinicians to better
understand why women fake orgasm. Deepening this
understanding may serve future research examining sexual
desire, satisfaction, and dysfunction as well as have appli-
cations in sex and couples’ therapy.
Keywords Female orgasm Fake orgasm Sexuality
Couples Women
Introduction
Faking orgasm, a sexual strategy used by some women, has
been documented for nearly a century. Touted during the
Victorianerabyphysiciansas‘‘ajustifiableinnocentdeception’
(Robinson, 1917, p. 306) by wives looking to please their
husbands, contemporary studies have estimated that 53–67%
of women engage in this behavior (Darling & Davidson, 1986;
Kaighobadi, Shackelford, & Weekes-Shackelford, 2012;Mu-
ehlenhard & Shippee, 2010; Wiederman, 1997). Although
fakingorgasmhasreceivedmuchattentioninthepopularmedia
(e.g., health and lifestyle magazines, movies, television shows,
internet blogs), a review of the literature reveals little empirical
evidence regarding its prevalence, correlates, or motivational
underpinnings. Simply put, faking orgasm is one of the least
well-studiedhumansexualbehaviors.The presentresearchwas
specifically aimed at examining the motivational aspects of
faking orgasm in heterosexual women.
An understanding of the female orgasm is necessary to begin
an inquiry into its feigned counterpart. Although a review of the
physiological mechanisms of female orgasm is beyond the scope
of this article (for review, see Komisaruk, Beyer-Flores, &
Whipple, 2006; Meston, Hull, Levin, & Sipski, 2004), researchers
have long argued that male and female orgasms have separate
functions and different evolutionary determinants. Specifically, it
is widely understood that female orgasm is not a critical element
of reproduction (e.g., Baker & Bellis, 1993;Mestonetal.,2004;
Smith, 1984; Wallen & Lloyd, 2008). Although 75–90 % of
women do not consistently orgasm during sexual activity with a
partner (Bancroft, Loftus, & Long, 2003), and approximately
5–10 % of women do not orgasm at all (for review, see Lloyd,
E. B. Cooper (&)R. L. Fauber
Department of Psychology, Temple University, Weiss Hall,
Philadelphia, PA 19122, USA
e-mail: erin.b.cooper@temple.edu
A. Fenigstein
Department of Psychology, Kenyon College, Gambier, OH, USA
123
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DOI 10.1007/s10508-013-0212-z
Author's personal copy
2005), there is no evidence indicating that the absence of female
orgasm prevents conception. Some researchers have proposed
that the female orgasm may have been an outcome of evolu-
tionary natural selection by offering reproductive advantages.
One such possible advantage is that female orgasm may
encourage or reinforce sexual behavior necessary for reproduc-
tion (for review, see Lloyd, 2005; Zietsch, Miller, Bailey, &
Martin, 2011). Consistent with that idea, Brewer and Hendrie
(2011) found that female copulatory vocalizations associated
with orgasm effectively sped up their partner’s orgasm, which
may increase the likelihood of conception.
Evolutionaryconsiderations maybe relevant tothis research
to the extent that natural selection has likely shaped women’s
sexual goals (e.g., wanting to retain a mate), cognitions (e.g.,
thoughts about self and others as a partner), and emotions (e.g.,
empathy for a partner, feelings of arousal or sexual satisfaction,
etc.), all of which are expected to contribute to the decision to
fake orgasm. For example, in a study of 453 heterosexual
female college students, Kaighobadi et al. (2012) found that
women who perceived increased risk of partner infidelity were
more likely to fake orgasmduring sexualintercourse. They also
found that women who faked orgasm were more likely to
engage in mate retention strategies, such as direct guarding,
intersexual negative inducements, and public possession sig-
nals (see Buss, 1988). Other research has found that women
who fake orgasm are more likely to engage in intersexual
negative inducements, i.e., to behave in less-exclusive and
flirtatious ways with other men (Thornhill, Gangestad, &
Comer, 1995). These findings suggest that women may fake
orgasm either to display commitment, interest, or love to their
partner, or to manipulate their partner’s commitment to them
(Kaighobadietal.,2012). In support of this interpretation,
participants in Hite’s (1976) survey reported faking orgasm to
prevent their partner from‘‘straying’’ and as a means of fulfilling
their nightly ‘‘social obligation’(p. 263).
A woman’s decision to fake orgasm may also have a
meaningful impact on her male partner. Research has shown
that 90 % of men are concerned with whether their female
partner experiences orgasm (McKibbin, Bates, Shackelford,
Hafen, & LaMunyon, 2010); in turn, Muehlenhard and
Shippee’s (2010) study of 101 female college students found
nearly 70 % of the women in their sample reported faking
orgasm to avoid hurting their partner’s feelings. Other com-
mon reasons reported include faking orgasm to please their
partner or because their partner’s orgasm seemed imminent.
Darling and Davidson (1986) found that women whose
partner asked if they experienced orgasm were more likely to
fake orgasm; these women were also more likely to feel guilty
if they did not orgasm, presumably stemming from concerns
about hurting their partner’s feelings (see also Hite, 1976;
Muehlenhard & Shippee, 2010). In the absence of female
orgasm, faking orgasm may serve to help either or both
partners avoid feelings of inadequacy or abnormality (Dove
& Wiederman, 2000).
Given the strong possibility that men are often unable to
distinguish between real and faked female orgasms, as sug-
gested by popular media (e.g., When Harry Met Sally, Seinfeld,
Parenthood), women may view faking orgasm as an effective
strategy for coping with pressure to orgasm from themselves or
their partners. Indeed, research has found a significant dis-
crepancy between women’s reports of faking orgasm and their
partner’s estimates of its frequency. In one study, a woman
‘reported that she never orgasmed but faked 100 % of the time;
her partner reported that she orgasmed 100 % of the time and
never faked’’ (Thornhill et al., 1995,p.1605).Nearly12%of
that sample reported significant discrepancies of more than
20 % between women’s reports of faking orgasm and their
partner’s estimates of its frequency.
Severalstudies have suggested that women’s willingness to
engage in sexual acts often stems from considerations that are
not strictly sexual, but are more closely related to the rewards
associated with an emotional connection with their partner or
the need to avoid negative sexual outcomes (e.g., Basson, 2000,
2006; Graham, Bancroft, Doll, Greco, & Tanner, 2007; Mah &
Binik, 2001). For example, research has shown that important
sexual outcomes for women, such as perceiving sexual acts as
pleasurable (Haavio-Mannila & Kontula, 1997), orgasmic
responsiveness, and sexual satisfaction (King, Belsky, Mah, &
Binik, 2011; Laumann, Paik, & Rosen, 1999;Mah&Binik,
2005), are associated with higher levels of emotional intimacy
and relationship satisfaction. It is not surprising then that
approximately 68 % of heterosexual women would stay with a
partner, even if she had never experienced an orgasm with that
partner (Brewer & Hendrie, 2011). Thus, insofar as faking
orgasm enhances the perception of sex as pleasurable to a
woman and/or her sexual partner, doing so may contribute to
feelings of sexual satisfaction, as well as relationship satisfac-
tion and maintenance, intimacy enhancement, and avoidance
of conflict, which are often goals of female sexual behavior.
Many feminist scholars have argued that both popular cul-
ture and the tendency toward ‘medicalization’’ of the female
sexual response has had a detrimental effect on perceptions of
‘normal’female sexual functioning (e.g., Basson, 2001;Hei-
man, 2007; Potts, 2000; Tiefer, 1991,2001). Pervasive erotic
images of women in Western culture and controversial diag-
nostic criteria in the DSM (e.g., Female Orgasmic Disorder)
(for review, see Graham, 2010) have created an unrealistic
expectation that women must achieve orgasm during sexual
acts. Media exposure has further emphasized the necessity of
being a ‘‘good lover,’ i.e., able to respond sexually to, and
satisfy the needs of, their partner (Darling & Davidson, 1986;
Potts, 2000;Tiefer,1991; Waterman & Chiauzzi, 1982). In
their study, Muehlenhard and Shippee (2010) concluded that
faking orgasm suggests a discrepancy between what is actually
424 Arch Sex Behav (2014) 43:423–435
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happeningandwhata womanthinksshouldbehappeningbased
on the expectations of society and her relationship. Ultimately,
women’s choice to fake orgasm may be an attempt to avoid
being viewed as physiologically and/or psychologically
abnormal.
Given these influences, the female orgasm may be erro-
neously viewed by both women and their partners as evidence
of their sexual competence or adequacy. In the absence of
orgasm, faking orgasm may serve to help either or both
partners avoid feelings of inadequacy or abnormality and feel
better about themselves sexually and generally (Costa &
Brody, 2007; Dove & Wiederman, 2000). These potential
motives are further supported by research suggesting that
women fake orgasm to increase the real or perceived
excitement of sex for themselves or their partner (Hite, 1976;
Wiederman, 1997). Participants in Hite’s (1976) survey
indicated that faking orgasm was motivated by reasons
related to perceived sexual competence, including wanting to
appear sexy and reinforcing their partner for behavior they
liked. Providing further support for this notion, in a study of
161 female college students, Wiederman (1997) found that
women who faked orgasm had significantly higher levels of
sexual self-esteem, i.e., as a result of their ‘‘responsiveness,’
they tended to view themselves more positively as a sexual
partner.
Although the studies noted here have suggested potential
motives for women’s decision to fake orgasm—such as to
protect their partner’s feelings, avoid feeling or being viewed
as abnormal, and to maintain or strengthen their relationship
with a partner—those ideas were not subjected to systematic
inquiry. Much of the previously cited research suffered from
important methodological limitations.
Darling and Davidson’s (1986) survey of 805 professional
nurses included both open-ended responses that were coded
as well as closed-form items regarding sexual attitudes,
sexual behavior, and female sexual response. Although the
researchers detailed the process through which items were
created, no established scales were used for validation pur-
poses and psychometric properties were not reported. Fur-
thermore, Darling and Davidson did not disclose how it was
determined whether or not participants had faked orgasm. In
the Wiederman (1997) study, only one item asked partici-
pants whether they ‘‘have, at one time or another, pretended
to have an orgasm during sexual intercourse’’(p. 134); faking
orgasm during other sexual encounters was not explored.
Muehlenhard and Shippee (2010), much like Darling and
Davidson (1986), asked participants to complete a 5-part
open-ended and closed-form item survey. Psychometric
properties of items were not reported, so it is unclear if they
were adequate. In all three studies, frequency of faking
orgasm was not assessed and only Muehlenhard and Shippee
(2010) attempted to identify potential reasons why women
faked orgasm.
Although the information gained from these studies can
begin to shape our understanding of why women choose to
fake orgasm, the methodological limitations of these studies
highlight the need for a more in-depth quantitative exami-
nation. To systematically build this base of knowledge, a
psychometrically sound measure of women’s specific moti-
vation(s) for faking orgasm is needed. Building on the rele-
vant literature and expanding the research focus to include
oral sex and sexual intercourse will allow us to build a strong
foundation for future exploration of faking orgasm. The
current study aimed to develop a scale to assess the dimen-
sions underlying women’s decision to fake orgasm, as ‘‘fake
orgasm has many practitioners but few champions’(Jagose,
2010, p. 518).
Study 1
Method
Participants
Undergraduate females enrolled in introductory psychology
and marketing courses at a large urban university in south-
eastern Pennsylvania (N=481) were recruited through a web-
based management system and through IRB-approved flyers
posted around campus. Participants were required to meet two
inclusion criteria: (1) having engaged in sexual intercourse
and/or received oral sex and (2) having faked an orgasm
during one or both of those activities. Inclusion criteria were
included in the informed consent, questionnaire instructions,
and were specifically queried following collection of demo-
graphic data. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 32 years
(M=20.33years, SD =2.48), were racially and ethnically
diverse (White: 53 %, Black/African-American: 34 %, Other:
13 %; Hispanic: 8%), and primarily heterosexual in orienta-
tion (heterosexual: 92 %; homosexual: 3 %; bisexual: 4 %). Of
the total sample, 94.2 % endorsed engaging in sexual inter-
course, 97.9 % reported receiving oral sex, and 89.5 %
reported ever having experienced an orgasm. More than 60%
of participants reported receiving oral sex from 2 to 5 part-
ners; one-third of participants reported having penile–vaginal
intercourse with 4–7 partners, and over 15 % reported having
intercourse with more than 10 partners. Nearly 65 % of par-
ticipants were married or in a committed relationship and
approximately 20 % of women in the study reported partici-
pating in an uncommitted sexual relationship (e.g., ‘hooking
up’’ or ‘‘friends with benefits’).
To be included in the analyses for the Sexual Intercourse
portion of the scale, participants had to endorse being pre-
dominantly heterosexual in orientation and having faked an
orgasm at least once during sexual intercourse. This resulted in
a sample of 352 women who ranged in age from 18 to 31 years
Arch Sex Behav (2014) 43:423–435 425
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(M=20.35years, SD =2.46) and were racially and ethnically
diverse (White: 57 %, Black/African-American: 30 %, Other:
13 %; Hispanic: 7 %). A comparable sample of 340, who had
endorsed both a predominantly heterosexual orientation and
having faked orgasm while receiving oral sex, were included in
the analyses for the Oral Sex portion of the scale. Participants
ranged in age from 18 to 31 years (M=20.34 years, SD =2.35)
and were racially and ethnically diverse (White: 55 %, Black/
African-American: 32 %, Other: 13 %).
Procedure
Data were collected in small groups of six using self-report
questionnaires administered on the computer at laboratory
computer stations. Data collection was monitored by a
research assistant in a separate room.
Measures
Demographics Prior to completion of the questionnaires,
participants reported their age, ethnicity, predominant sexual
orientation, and sexual experience. In addition, participants
were asked to choose their most applicable relationship for
purposes of completing the questionnaires (i.e., to select a
current or past relationship in which they most frequently
and/or consistently faked orgasm), indicate the status of that
relationship, and respond to the remainder of the measures in
the context of that particular relationship.
Faking Orgasm Scale for Women (FOS) Items Based on
previous research in the field (e.g., Darling & Davidson,
1986; Muehlenhard & Shippee, 2010; Wiederman, 1997) and
focus group interviews with women in the sample population,
a pool of 73 self-report items
1
was generated to examine
women’s motivation for faking orgasm during sexual inter-
course and oral sex. Each item assessed a singular motiva-
tional element and was written in a straightforward manner,
using simple language, and avoiding trendy expressions
(Clark & Watson, 1995). The items sought to address three
major areas of inquiry: (1) beliefs about orgasm and faking
orgasm, masturbation, relationship factors, and feelings of
responsibility; (2) behaviors and beliefs regarding oral sex;
and (3) behaviors and beliefs regarding sexual intercourse.
A pilot study of 117 female undergraduates at a small
liberal arts college in Ohio, ranging in age from 18 to 22 (age
M=19.5 years; SD =1.14 years), completed a paper-and-
pencil questionnaire in groups of 20–30 participants as part of
an independent study project of the first author (Cooper &
Fenigstein, 2004). Participants were predominantly hetero-
sexual (93 %); those indicating homosexual (6 %) or bisexual
(1 %) orientation were omitted from analysis, resulting in a
total sample of 108. Nearly 76 % of participants had engaged
in sexual intercourse; over 83 % reported giving oral sex and
approximately 82 % endorsed receiving oral sex; more than
84 % of participants reported having experienced orgasm at
some point; and approximately 69 % of participants in this
study endorsed masturbating.
Participants responded to open-ended questions and indi-
cated their agreement with the preliminary Faking Orgasm
Scale items on a 5-point Likert-type scale, ranging from
‘Never’’to‘‘Always.’’ Analyses of pilot data revealed adequate
variability in the responses to FOS items, and there was no
redundancy revealed in the item correlation matrix (based on a
criterion of r[.80). Thus, all items were retained for future
scale development. Open-ended responses were also content-
analyzed with the aim of using the information collected to
create and modify self-report items for future scale develop-
ment. Generally, results of the pilot study suggested women
may employ a variety of motives in their decision to fake
orgasm, and provided a strong foundation for further scale
development [i.e., exploratory factor analysis (EFA)].
Faking Orgasm Scale for Women (FOS) To expand the
breadth of content from the pilot study, 90 new items were
constructed based on the results of the pilot study content
analysis and additional focus group interviews with women in
the sample population. A total pool of 163 self-report items (80
sexual intercourse items and 83 oral sex items
2
)wasadmin-
istered to participants. Instructions defined‘faking orgasm’’ as
‘acting or pretending as if you have had an orgasm when you
have not, through vocal confirmation and/or muscular con-
traction, regardless of the reason,’’ as these were the major
elements identified by participants in the pilot study.
Statistical Analyses
EFA was used to develop a more systematic understanding of
the underlying reasons women faked orgasm during oral sex
and sexual intercourse. If used properly, EFA is a valid method
for reducing the number of items in scale construction, for
analysis of factor structures, and for analysis of the validity of
the items to be included in the scale (Comrey & Lee, 1992;
Reise, Waller, & Comrey, 2000). Factor structure was assessed
using parallel analysis (PA) (see Allen, Hayton, & Scarpello,
2004) and examination of the scree plot. All analyses were
conducted using the SPSS statistical software package.
Assumptions for EFA were tested. Although some items were
positively skewed, EFA has been found to be relatively robust
against violations of normality (Gorsuch, 1983). In both sam-
ples, multivariate outliers were examined and singularity
1
Entire pool of items available from the corresponding author upon
request.
2
Entire pool of items available from the corresponding author upon
request.
426 Arch Sex Behav (2014) 43:423–435
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sensitivity analyses revealed no differences in overall factor
structures; thus, outlying cases were left in each of the total
samples. Furthermore, a visual examination of the correlation
matrices suggested that the variances appeared sufficiently
similar to proceed with EFA.
EFA was conducted on each of the samples of data collected
to reduce the number of items for each scale (80 items of the
FOS-Sexual Intercourse and 83 items of the FOS-Oral Sex
2
).
Researchers have identified a minimum sample size of 300 as
desirable for EFA, with even fewer cases needed for solutions
that have several high load ing marker variables (factor loadings
[0.80) (Comrey & Lee, 1992; Guadagnoli & Velicer, 1988).
Thus, both the Sexual Intercourse and Oral Sex samples were
large enough for stable factor structures to be revealed.
Results of the PA and examination of the scree plot guided
factorextraction. Principal axis factor (PAF) extraction method
was used to determine the number of underlyingdimensions or
factors. Following the extraction of factors, a Promax oblique
rotation was used as the factors were expected to be correlated.
Despite allowing for correlation among the factors, using
Promax rotation results in maximization of the simple structure
by clarifying those variables that do and do not correlate with
each factor (Tabachnick & Fidell, 2007).
Results
Exploratory Factor Analysis–Sexual Intercourse Subscale
As there was no a priori hypothesis on the number of factors to
be extracted, a number of criteria were used to choose the
number of factors to retain. PA suggested an extraction of no
more than four factors. After the initial PAF extraction, an
examination of the scree plot showed a clear break between the
eigenvalues of the fourth and fifth factors. Although eight
factors had eigenvalues greater than 1.0, those beyond four
were not readily interpretable. The total variance explained by
the first four factors was 51.50 %. Nine iterations of removing
non-loading, cross-loading, and items loading below\.60 from
analyses revealed 35 items and 62.05 % total variance
explained. Removal of items from analyses resulted in a sam-
ple size of 352 participants without missing data.
The four-factor structure contained 35 of the original 80
items on the Sexual Intercourse Subscale. The first factor was
labeled Altruistic Deceit (SIAD) and consisted of 15 items,
accounting for 39.3 % of the variance. It contains items that
described faking orgasm out of concern for a partner’s feelings
and reliability analysis of this factor revealed a coefficient aof
.96. The second factor was labeled Fear and Insecurity (SIFI)
and consisted of10 items, accountingfor 10.3 % of the variance
(a=.93). SIFI contains items that described avoidance of
negative emotions. The third factor was labeled Elevated
Arousal (SIEA) and consisted of seven items, accounting for
8.42 % of th e variance (a=.93).It containsitems thatdescribed
a woman’s attempt to increase her own arousal through faking
orgasm. The fourth factor was labeled Sexual Adjournment
(SISA) and consisted of three items, accounting for 3.98% of
the variance (a=.76). This factor contains items that described
faking orgasm to quickly end sexual intercourse. See Table 1
for descriptive statistics and factor loadings for each factor.
Additionally, as hypothesized, the oblique Promax rotation
revealed significant correlations among most factors (see
Table 2).
Exploratory Factor Analysis–Oral Sex Subscale
As there was again no a priori hypothesis regarding the
number of factors to be extracted, similar methods as those
used to factor analyze the sexual intercourse scale were used.
PA suggested the extraction of no more than six factors. After
the initial PAF extraction, an examination of the scree plot
showed a clear break between the eigenvalues of the third and
fourth factors and nine factors had eigenvalues greater than
1.0. However, those factors beyond four were uninterpretable
as the items did not make theoretical sense together. The total
variance explained by the first four factors was 47.37 %.
Seven iterations removing non-loading, cross-loading, and
low-loading (\.60) items from analyses revealed 26 items,
62.28 % total variance explained, and a sample size of 331
participants without missing data.
The four-factor structure retained 26 of the original 83 items
on the Oral Sex Subscale . The first factor was labeled Altruistic
Deceit (OSAD) and consisted of 10 items, accounting for
35.14 % of the variance (a=.94). It contains items that
described faking orgasm out of concern for a partner’s feelings.
The second factor was labeled Insecure Avoidance (OSIA) and
consisted of seven items, accounting for 11.95 % of the variance
(a=.89). OSIA contains items that described faking orgasm to
avoid negative, anxiety-like e motions during oral sex. The third
factor was labeled Elevated Arousal (OSEA) and consisted of
five items, accounting for 8.79 % of the variance (a=.91). It
contains items that described a woman’s attempt to increase her
own arousal through faking orgasm. The fourth factor was
labeled Fear of Dysfunction (OSFD) and consisted of 4 items,
accounting for 6.38 % of thevariance (a=.86). This factor con-
tains items that described faking orgasm to prevent negative
emotions associated with sexual health or inadequate sexual
response. See Table 3for descriptive statistics and factor load-
ings for each factor. Additionally, as hypothesized, the oblique
Promax rotation revealed significant correlations between fac-
tors on the Oral Sex Subscale (see Table 4).
Discussion
The Faking Orgasm Scale was designed to assess women’s self-
reported motives for faking orgasm during sexual intercourse
and oral sex. Results of the EFA revealed a four-factor scale
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during both sexual intercourse and oral sex. The Sexual Inter-
course Subscale included Altruistic Deceit, Fear and Insecurity,
Elevated Arousal, and Sexual Adjournment factors. The Oral
Sex Subscale consisted of Altruistic Deceit, Insecure Avoidance,
Elevated Arousal, and Fear of Dysfunction. Participant respon-
ses in previous studies utilizing interview and/or coded open-
ended response items support the interpretation of these factors
(Darling & Davidson, 1986; Hite, 1976; Muehlenhard & Ship-
pee, 2010;Wiederman,1997).
Each factor was labeled and a description of the constructs
they were hypothesized to measure was created based on a
face-valid evaluation of the items. Altruistic Deceit is a
partner or relationship-centric construct, concerned with
faking orgasm to avoid hurting a partner’s feelings and/or
making a partner feel good about himself. Elevated Arousal,
however, was self-focused, defined as faking orgasm to
increase one’s own arousal, excitement or interest in the
sexual act. Fear and Insecurity was also a primarily self-
focused construct representing faking orgasm to avoid neg-
ative emotions and/or self-evaluation. Sexual Adjournment
Table 1 Descriptive statistics and factor loadings for Faking Orgasm
Scale: Sexual Intercourse Subscale
Factor MSDFactor
loading
Altruistic Deceit (SIAD)
So your partner doesn’t feel inadequate if you
don’t have a real orgasm?
3.03 1.35 0.93
To make your partner happy? 3.21 1.32 0.89
So your partner doesn’t feel guilty if you don’t
have a real orgasm?
2.98 1.42 0.88
So your partner will feel successful? 3.28 1.28 0.87
To avoid disappointing your partner if you
don’t have a real orgasm?
2.89 1.38 0.86
Because you are fearful of hurting your
partner’s feelings, self-esteem, or confidence
if you don’t achieve orgasm?
2.80 1.37 0.83
Because you think it is important for your
partner to know they can please you?
3.24 1.35 0.81
Because your partner would be happier if you
had an orgasm during sexual intercourse?
3.24 1.32 0.79
To show gratitude to your partner? 2.83 1.33 0.78
To give your partner an‘ego boost’’? 3.12 1.34 0.78
So your partner isn’t ashamed if you don’t have
a real orgasm?
2.67 1.40 0.75
Because your partner expects you to have an
orgasm during sexual intercourse?
2.87 1.33 0.73
Because you want to reward your partner for
their effort?
2.89 1.35 0.70
So your partner isn’t embarrassed if you don’t
have a real orgasm?
2.41 1.38 0.69
Because you think your partner cares more
about you achieving orgasm than his/her own
orgasm?
2.52 1.37 0.60
Fear and Insecurity (SIFI)
Because you think there may be something
wrong with you if you don’t orgasm?
1.64 1.11 0.93
Because you are ashamed you can’t reach
orgasm?
1.76 1.16 0.84
Because your partner might think there is
something wrong with you if you don’t
orgasm?
1.68 1.12 0.77
Because you have little or no experience with
having a real orgasm?
1.74 1.19 0.77
To avoid feeling badly about yourself if you
don’t have a real orgasm?
1.70 1.07 0.76
Because you are afraid you can’t reach orgasm? 2.09 1.24 0.72
Because you are embarrassed to talk about your
feelings?
1.59 1.01 0.64
To avoid having bad feelings about your sexual
or gynecological health?
1.53 1.02 0.64
Because you are self-conscious? 1.74 1.15 0.63
Becausethat’s what you think or thoughtpeople
did when experiencing orgasm?
1.80 1.19 0.63
Elevated Arousal (SIEA)
To turn yourself on? 2.24 1.32 0.92
Table 1 continued
Factor MSDFactor
loading
To increase your own interest in the sexual
experience?
2.43 1.35 0.84
Because you think it is fun? 1.95 1.24 0.82
To increase the excitement of your sexual
experience?
2.62 1.33 0.81
To increase your own arousal during sexual
intercourse?
2.19 1.25 0.80
Because you think it’s sexy? 2.09 1.29 0.74
To increase the intensity of the sex act? 2.85 1.31 0.65
Sexual Adjournment (SISA)
Because you simply aren’t enjoying yourself? 1.98 1.11 0.83
Because you want to stop sex but want to avoid
your partner feeling uncomfortable in the
future?
2.09 1.24 0.66
Because you want to go to sleep? 2.04 1.12 0.64
Responses ranged from 1 (Never) to 5 (Always)
Table 2 Correlations among Faking Orgasm Scale: Sexual Intercourse
Subscale Factors
Factor SIAD SIFI SIEA SISA
Altruistic Deceit (SIAD)
Fear and Insecurity (SIFI) 0.51*
Elevated Arousal (SIEA) 0.48* 0.31*
Sexual Adjournment (SISA) 0.29* 0.24* 0.10
*p\.01
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was a factor reflecting a lack of relationship-oriented com-
munication and concerns faking orgasm to bring an end to the
sexual act. Insecure Avoidance was also a primarily self-
focused factor. Each of the factors for both the Sexual Inter-
course and Oral Sex Subscales demonstrated excellent
internal consistency.
It is interesting that, in the context of oral sex, Fear and
Insecurityseparatedintoseeminglyemotion-focusedand
physiologic-focused factors. Insecure Avoidance taps into
women’s desire to avoid anxiety-like responses to a partner’s
focus on her genitals. In turn, Fear of Dysfunction appears to
represent women who fake orgasm to appear‘normal’ in their
sexual functioning. Of further interest was the finding that the
Sexual Adjournment factor was not present in the Oral Sex
Subscale. Previous research has characterized faking orgasm
behavior as a woman’s method of adhering to sexual scripts
(Muehlenhard & Shippee, 2010). Sexual scripts may also
explain the lack of a Sexual Adjournment factor or faking
orgasm to end the sexual experience during oral sex. In many
heterosexual relationships, oral sex may be viewed as a pre-
cursor to sexual intercourse; thus, women may not employ
fakingorgasm to end the sexualencounter because they may be
looking to intercourse for additional pleasure and/or achieving
orgasm. Alternatively, oral sex may last for a shorter duration
than sexual intercourse and thus women may not reach frus-
tration with their oral sex experience and desire for it to end in
the same manner.
Study 2
Following initial factor extraction and data reduction, confir-
matory factor analysis (CFA) was used to evaluate decisions
made during EFA and confirm hypothesized factor structures
(for review, see Finch & West, 1997; Floyd & Widaman, 1995;
Reise et al., 2000).CFAprocedurestendtoworkbestwith
simple factor structures (each item loads highly on one and only
one factor) (Reise et al., 2000), such as that found in Study 1. It
was hypothesized that the factor structure of each subscale
found during EFA would be supported in a new sample of
participants. Further, it wasexpected thatthe CFA wouldreveal
good to excellent model fit indices of the factor structure for
each subscale of the FOS revealed in Study 1 (Sexual Inter-
course: 35 items; Oral Sex: 26 items).
Table 3 Descriptive statistics and factor loadings for Faking Orgasm
Scale: Oral Sex Subscale
Factor MSDFactor
loading
Altruistic Deceit (OSAD)
Because you think it is important for your
partner to know they can please you?
3.16 1.30 0.84
Because you want to reward your partner for
their effort?
2.86 1.34 0.84
To give your partner an‘ego boost’’? 2.98 1.42 0.83
So your partner will feel successful? 3.15 1.30 0.82
So your partner doesn’t feel inadequate? 2.96 1.36 0.81
To encourage your partner’s actions? 2.96 1.31 0.80
To make your partner happy? 3.10 1.32 0.80
To avoid disappointing your partner if you
don’t have a real orgasm?
3.24 1.35 0.74
To show gratitude to your partner? 2.90 1.31 0.74
To reinforce certain behaviors/techniques/
actions of your partner?
2.69 1.34 0.72
Insecure Avoidance (OSIA)
Because you are embarrassed during oral sex? 1.72 1.06 0.86
Because you feel physically uncomfortable
during oral sex?
1.73 1.04 0.80
Because you are afraid it might be unpleasant
for your partner?
1.99 1.18 0.78
Because you are self-conscious? 2.02 1.20 0.72
Because you are afraid your partner is not
enjoying it?
1.72 1.06 0.71
Because you are afraid of being vulnerable? 1.54 0.97 0.67
Because you feel guilty your partner is giving
you oral sex?
1.65 1.02 0.67
Elevated Arousal (OSEA)
To turn yourself on? 2.07 1.23 0.88
Because you think it’s sexy? 1.99 1.24 0.84
To increase your own interest in the sexual
experience?
1.95 1.24 0.81
Because you think it is fun? 1.77 1.10 0.77
To increase the drama of your sexual
experience?
2.06 1.19 0.76
Fear of Dysfunction (OSFD)
Because you are ashamed you can’t reach
orgasm?
1.70 1.08 0.86
Because you think there may be something
physically wrong with you if you don’t
orgasm?
1.59 1.10 0.82
Because you are worried you can’t reach
orgasm?
1.90 1.15 076
To avoid having bad feelings about your sexual
or gynecological health if you cannot have a
real orgasm?
1.42 0.87 0.72
Responses ranged from 1 (Never) to 5 (Always)
Table 4 Correlations among Faking Orgasm Scale: Oral Sex Subscale
Factors
Factor OSAD OSIA OSEA OSFD
Altruistic Deceit (OSAD)
Insecure Avoidance (OSIA) 0.40*
Elevated Arousal (OSEA) 0.42* 0.16*
Fear of Dysfunction (OSFD) 0.37* 0.34* 0.31*
*p\.01
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Method
Participants
Data for CFA of the Faking Orgasm Scale were collected from
undergraduate females enrolled in introductory psychology
and marketing courses at a large urban university in south-
eastern Pennsylvania. A total of 398 heterosexual women
completed the study. Participants ranged in age from 18 to
32 years (M=20.52, SD =2.55) and were racially and ethni-
cally diverse (White: 68 %, Black/African-American: 23 %,
Other: 14 %; Hispanic: 7%). Of the total sample, 94.2 %
endorsed engaging in sexual intercourse, 95.5 % reported
receiving oral sex, and 87.4 % reported ever having experi-
enced an orgasm. Approximately 60 % of participants reported
receiving oral sex from 2 to 5 partners, over 27 % of participants
reported having penile–vaginal intercourse with 4–7 partners,
and almost 15 % repo rted having intercourse with more than 10
partners. More than 65 % of participants were married or in a
committed relationship and approximately 15 % of women
reported participating in an uncommitted sexual relationship
(e.g.,‘hooking up’’ or‘‘friends with benefits’).
To be included in the sample for the Sexual Intercourse
CFA, participants had to endorse a predominantly hetero-
sexual orientation and having faked an orgasm during sexual
intercourse. The sample for analyses of the Sexual Inter-
course Subscale was 312 students. Participants ranged in age
from 18 to 32 years (M=20.47, SD =2.52), and were racially
and ethnically diverse (White: 70 %, Black/African-Ameri-
can: 22 %, Other: 13 %; Hispanic: 6 %).
Participants endorsing a predominantly heterosexual ori-
entation and faking orgasm while receiving oral sex were
included in the sample for the Oral Sex CFA. Data for anal-
yses of the Oral Sex Subscale came from 335 students; par-
ticipants ranged in age from 18 to 32 years (M=20.52,
Table 5 Descriptive statistics and factor loadings for Faking Orgasm
Scale: Sexual Intercourse Subscale Confirmatory Factor Analysis
Factor MSDFactor
loading
Altruistic Deceit (SIAD)
To make your partner happy? 2.81 1.28 0.88
So your partner doesn’t feel guilty if you don’t
have a real orgasm?
2.71 1.26 0.84
So your partner will feel successful? 2.84 1.23 0.85
To avoid disappointing your partner if you
don’t have a real orgasm?
2.62 1.29 0.85
Because you are fearful of hurting your
partner’s feelings, self-esteem, or confidence
if you don’t achieve orgasm?
2.48 1.28 0.84
Because you think it is important for your
partner to know they can please you?
2.81 1.28 0.84
Because your partner would be happier if you
had an orgasm during sexual intercourse?
2.85 1.26 0.75
To show gratitude to your partner? 2.51 1.19 0.85
To give your partner an‘ego boost’’? 2.70 1.27 0.83
So your partner isn’t ashamed if you don’t have
a real orgasm?
2.38 1.24 0.80
Because your partner expects you to have an
orgasm during sexual intercourse?
2.54 1.26 0.73
Because you want to reward your partner for
their effort?
2.60 1.23 0.83
So your partner isn’t embarrassed if you don’t
have a real orgasm?
2.23 1.18 0.76
Because you think your partner cares more
about you achieving orgasm than his/her own
orgasm?
2.30 1.23 0.62
Fear and Insecurity (SIFI)
Because you think there may be something
wrong with you if you don’t orgasm?
1.74 1.04 0.82
Because you are ashamed you can’t reach
orgasm?
1.81 1.09 0.85
Because your partner might think there is
something wrong with you if you don’t
orgasm?
1.79 1.07 0.84
Because you have little or no experience with
having a real orgasm?
1.77 1.13 0.75
To avoid feeling badly about yourself if you
don’t have a real orgasm?
1.79 1.05 0.84
Because you are afraid you can’t reach orgasm? 1.94 1.10 0.70
Because you are embarrassed to talk about your
feelings?
1.67 0.94 0.71
To avoid having bad feelings about your sexual
or gynecological health?
1.70 1.04 0.75
Because you are self-conscious? 1.79 1.06 0.73
Becausethat’s what you think or thoughtpeople
did when experiencing orgasm?
1.71 0.98 0.77
Elevated Arousal (SIEA)
To turn yourself on? 2.03 1.11 0.86
To increase your own interest in the sexual
experience?
2.11 1.12 0.92
Because you think it is fun? 1.83 1.02 0.73
Table 5 continued
Factor MSDFactor
loading
To increase the excitement of your sexual
experience?
2.23 1.11 0.91
To increase your own arousal during sexual
intercourse?
1.98 1.07 0.80
Because you think it’s sexy? 1.94 1.12 0.65
To increase the intensity of the sex act? 2.35 1.12 0.80
Sexual Adjournment (SISA)
Because you simply aren’t enjoying yourself? 2.09 1.13 0.84
Because you want to stop sex but want to avoid
your partner feeling uncomfortable in the
future?
2.13 1.15 0.80
Because you want to go to sleep? 2.07 1.08 0.63
Responses ranged from 1 (Never) to 5 (Always)
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SD =2.57) and were racially and ethnically diverse (White:
69 %, Black/African-American: 23 %, Other: 14 %; His-
panic: 6 %).
Procedure
Participants were recruited through a department-approved
web-based research management system and through Insti-
tutional Review Board approved flyers posted outside
classrooms and inside women’s restrooms. Sampling pro-
cedures and inclusion criteria were identical to those detailed
in Study 1.
Measures
Demographics Participants completed the same demo-
graphics information as in Study 1.
Faking Orgasm Scale for Women (FOS) Following data
reduction of the EFA, the FOS consisted of 61 self-report
items (Sexual Intercourse Subscale: 35 items; Oral Sex
Subscale: 26 items) designed to examine women’s motiva-
tion for faking orgasm during sexual intercourse and oral sex.
All other aspects of the FOS, including instructions and basic
organization, remained the same.
Analyses
CFA was conducted using the EQS statistical software
package (Bentler, 2008). Performing CFA using EQS offers
goodness of fit statistics between the hypothesized factor
structure and the factor structure within the data, allowing for
exploration of error-free constructs. Data were analyzed
using Maximum Likelihood (ML) estimation. The primary
method for evaluation of goodness-of-fit is the v
2
test statistic,
which is dependent on sample size. As sample sizes increase
(i.e., N[200), v
2
may falsely detect small divergences as
significant (Bentler & Bonnet, 1980). Therefore, there was
little reason to rely solely on this measure of goodness of fit so
other fit indices were used to determine an acceptable model.
Comparative Fit Index (CFI) and the Root-Mean Square
Error of Approximation (RMSEA) were used as additional
measures of goodness-of-fit. The Akaike Information Crite-
rion (AIC) was used to determine relative goodness of fit of
the model following modifications to model parameters
(Kline, 1998).
Results
Confirmatory Factor Analysis–Sexual Intercourse Subscale
Initial screening indicated that the data were suitably nor-
mally distributed and thus robust corrections were not
necessary. All measured variables loaded significantly
(p\.01) onto their hypothesized latent variables. The CFA
model had excellent fit statistics, Satorra–Bentler v
2
(553,
N=312) =1008.29, p\.001, CFI =.94, RMSEA =.051
(90 % CI =.046–.056).
To reduce number of items and improve model fit, one item
(‘‘so your partner doesn’t feel inadequate if you don’t have a
real orgasm?’’) was removed from analyses. Excellent fit
statistics were achieved and improved slightly, Satorra–
Bentler v
2
(521, N=312) =887.51, p\.001, CFI =.95,
RMSEA =.048 (90 % CI =.042–.053). A lower AIC value
indicated the modification resulted in the best fitting model.
Table 5shows descriptive statistics and factor loadings for the
final version of the Sexual Intercourse Subscale. Correlations
between factors are shown in Table 6.
Confirmatory Factor Analysis–Oral Sex Subscale
Initial data screening indicated that the data were suitably
normally distributed and thus robust corrections were not
necessary. Table 7shows the factor loadings for the hypothe-
sized latent factors and the means and standard deviations o f all
measured variables in the CFA Oral Sex model. All measure
variables loaded significantly (p\.01) onto their hypothesized
latent variables. Correlations between factors are shown in
Table 8. However, the CFA model had unacceptable fit statis-
tics, Satorra–Bentler v
2
(293, N=398) =780.80, p\.001,
CFI =.91, RMSEA =.072 (90 % CI =.065–.078).
To improve model fit, modifications to the model were made
based on factor interpretability and avoidance of redundancy.
One item (‘‘because you think there may be something physi-
cally wrong with you if you don’t orgasm?’) was removed from
analyses; however, this adjustment didnot result inadequate fit,
Satorra–Bentler v
2
(269, N=328) =703.59, p\.001, CFI =
.92, RMSEA =.070 (90 % CI =.064–.077). Two items
(‘because youare afraid yourpartneris not enjoying it?’’and‘‘to
reinforce certain behaviors/techniques/actions of your part-
ner?’) were removed from analyses, but did not result in ade-
quate fit, Satorra–Bentler v
2
(224, N=331) =484.15, p\.001,
CFI =.94, RMSEA =.059 (90 % CI =.054–.069). One addi-
tional item (‘‘because you feel guilty your partner is giving you
oral sex?) was subsequently removed from analyses and
adequate fit statistics were achieved, Satorra–Bentler v
2
(203,
Table 6 Correlations among Faking Orgasm Scale: Sexual Intercourse
Subscale Factors
Factor SIAD SIFI SIEA SISA
Altruistic Deceit (SIAD)
Fear and Insecurity (SIFI) 0.56*
Elevated Arousal (SIEA) 0.55* 0.56*
Sexual Adjournment (SISA) 0.51* 0.58* 0.40*
*p\.01
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N=335) =432.00,p\.001, CFI =.95, RMSEA =.058 (90%
CI =.050–.066). A reduction in AIC value indicated this was
the b est fitting model. Table 7shows descriptive statistics and
factor loadings for the final version of the Oral Sex Subscale.
Correlations between factors are shown in Table8.
General Discussion
The present research attempted to develop a reliable and valid
measure, the FOS, to assess the motivations behind a
woman’s decision to fake an orgasm. The FOS is the first scale
of its kind. CFA replicated its factor structure with excellent
model fit and minimal modifications to each subscale.
The current studies indicated that the decision to fake orgasm
during sexual intercourse and oral sex was often motivated by
important psychological goals or functions. In contrast to pre-
vious arguments that faking orgasm is disingenuous or poten-
tially problematic to individual and relationship health (e.g.,
Darling & Davidson, 1986;Jagose,2010) or—as some feminist
theorists have argued—that faking orgasm is an act that reflects
women’s submission to the androcentric societal and cultural
expectations placed upon them and their sexuality (e.g., Fahs,
2010; Jackson & Scott, 2002; Potts, 2000), the present research
suggested that some motives for faking orgasm can be con-
ceptualized as relationship-promoting and sexual pleasure-
enhancing and that a broader and less negativistic view of this
practice is in order.
Factor structure differences between the Sexual Intercourse
and Oral Sex Subscales highlighted the need for further
investigation into the potential psychological mechanisms
operating during varying sexual contexts and the implications
of these mechanisms. The research suggested that women may
fake orgasm to alleviate increased feelings of anxiety, self-
consciousness, and physiological abnormality when their
partner’s focus was explicitly centered on their genitals. Soci-
etal expectations may also help to explain this increased
awareness of one’s sexual responding during oral sex, as both
the media and research community have asserted that women
are more likely to experience an orgasm following clitoral
stimulation (e.g., Masters & Johnson, 1966). This increased
attention to the clitoris may have resulted in increased pressure
on women to perform when stimulated.
There were several limitations to these studies. First, these
studies were based on a convenience sample of mostly single
heterosexual female college students, which may limit the
generalizability of the findings. It is unclear to what extent
women in long-term committed relationships fake orgasm
and, if they do, what motives determine their decision to do
so. Previous studies have found older single women to be
more likely to fake orgasm than their younger married
counterparts (Darling & Davidson, 1986); further research in
women across all age groups is necessary to explore the
Table 7 Descriptive statistics and factor loadings for final Faking
Orgasm Scale: Oral Sex Subscale Confirmatory Factor Analysis
Factor MSDFactor
loading
Altruistic Deceit (OSAD)
Because you think it is important for your
partner to know they can please you?
2.83 1.35 0.90
Because you want to reward your partner for
their effort?
2.65 1.32 0.86
To give your partner an‘ego boost’’? 2.61 1.31 0.85
So your partner will feel successful? 2.75 1.35 0.88
So your partner doesn’t feel inadequate? 2.67 1.33 0.87
To encourage your partner’s actions? 2.66 1.26 0.77
To make your partner happy? 2.58 1.28 0.87
To avoid disappointing your partner if you
don’t have a real orgasm?
2.43 1.34 0.83
To show gratitude to your partner? 2.56 1.29 0.84
Insecure Avoidance (OSIA)
Because you are embarrassed during oral sex? 1.76 1.05 0.84
Because you feel physically uncomfortable
during oral sex?
1.70 0.93 0.70
Because you are afraid it might be unpleasant
for your partner?
1.97 1.11 0.70
Because you are self-conscious? 1.88 1.07 0.85
Because you are afraid of being vulnerable? 1.64 1.01 0.69
Elevated Arousal (OSEA)
To turn yourself on? 1.90 1.08 0.83
Because you think it’s sexy? 1.93 1.80 0.89
To increase your own interest in the sexual
experience?
1.96 1.07 0.86
Because you think it is fun? 1.71 0.99 0.71
To increase the drama of your sexual
experience?
1.85 0.99 0.82
Fear of Dysfunction (OSFD)
Because you are ashamed you can’t reach
orgasm?
1.71 1.06 0.91
Because you are worried you can’t reach
orgasm?
1.80 1.08 0.91
To avoid having bad feelings about your sexual
or gynecological health if you cannot have a
real orgasm?
1.51 0.92 0.67
Responses ranged from 1 (Never) to 5 (Always)
Table 8 Correlations among Faking Orgasm Scale: Oral Sex Subscale
Factors
Factor OSAD OSIA OSEA OSFD
Altruistic Deceit (OSAD)
Insecure Avoidance (OSIA) 0.47*
Elevated Arousal (OSEA) 0.55* 0.42*
Fear of Dysfunction (OSFD) 0.52* 0.58* 0.49*
*p\.01
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stability of the FOS’s factor structure and potential devel-
opmental factors. It is also unknown what, if any, differences
exist between heterosexual and lesbian or bisexual women’s
prevalence of and motives for faking orgasm. Preliminary
studies suggest that lesbian and bisexual women may fake
orgasm more frequently than heterosexual women; however,
differences in motives have yet to be explored (Cooper,
Conner, & Fauber, 2010). Additional research is needed to
explore the stability of the factor structure in lesbian, bisex-
ual, and/or older populations.
It is likely that motives for faking orgasm are influenced by
sociocultural circumstances and individual differences not
considered in the current study. Future studies might include
individuals from diverse backgrounds, which may provide
important information about the generalizability of the current
findings. Recent research has indicated that mental health
symptoms differentially impact the prevalence of faking
orgasm across racial and ethnic groups: depressive symptoms
in men and women of European or African-American descent
predicted the likelihood they had faked orgasm, but no such
relationship was found for Asian-American men or women
(Cooper, Morrison, & Heimberg, 2012). Studies exploring
potential differences in the frequency of, or motives for, faking
orgasm among racial and ethnic groups could provide a better
understanding of cultural influences on this behavior.
Another possible limitation of the current study was the self-
report method used, as some concern has been raised regarding
the reliability of self-reported sexual behavior because of inten-
tional distortion, inaccurate recall, and estimation of behavior.
Studies utilizing multiple methods have strengthened confi-
dence in self-report as an acceptable method for collecting data
regarding sexual behaviors that occur naturally outside of a
laboratory setting (McFarlane & St. Lawrence, 1999). Further,
individuals may not be able to accurately identify the reasons
they fake orgasm in a given context. Although steps were taken
to reduce this error (e.g., asking participants to specify and
answer items regarding a particular sexual partner), the potential
for inaccurate reporting remains. Some participants may have
difficulty reporting on their motivational drives; however, it is
likely that given the conscious nature of the decision to fake
orgasm, most women will be able to accurately report on their
motives when choosing to fake orgasm during oral sex or sexual
intercourse. It may be that women who fake orgasm frequently
will have greater insight into why they fake orgasm, as it is a
choice they are thinking about and making often. Alternatively,
women who engage in this behavior may habitually fake orgasm
and thus lack insight into their motives for doing so. In general,
objective verification of retrospective self-reported behavior is
problematic for sex research due to logistical and ethical limi-
tations of observing sexual behavior.
Furthermore, validity of the FOS must be established by
examining the relationship between the FOS factors and other
constructs related to sexual behaviors and attitudes. Test–
retest studies are also necessary to explore the temporal sta-
bility of faking orgasm. As previous research has focused
exclusively on the prevalence rather than frequency of this
behavior, details regarding the occurrence of faking orgasm is
lacking. Such research may clarify the clinical implications
of faking orgasm and inform the need for potential inter-
ventions. There remains much controversy in the field around
how to best conceptualize and understand normal female
sexual functioning (for review, see Graham, 2010); given the
high prevalence rates of faking orgasm and orgasmic diffi-
culties reported in previous studies (Bancroft et al., 2003;
Darling & Davidson, 1986; Kaighobadi et al., 2012; Lloyd,
2005; Muehlenhard & Shippee, 2010; Wiederman, 1997), it
stands to reason that faking orgasm may play a role in or be an
adaptive response to sexual dysfunction. Little is known
about the level of distress associated with women’s decision
to fake orgasm, regardless of motive for doing so, as this has
yet to be studied. In clinical practice, research has shown that
only 14–17 % of physicians explicitly inquire about sexual
functioning and behavior with their female patients (Nus-
baum, Helton, & Ray, 2004), despite calls that treatment
providers ascertain orgasmic capacity while taking routine
sexual histories (Sinha & Palep-Singh, 2008). Without data to
indicate that faking orgasm is not problematic, further
exploration into these potential relationships is warranted and
may provide new insights to the sexual difficulties of women.
The data in these studies indicated that women employed
both self-focused and relationship-oriented motives when
faking orgasm, suggesting that, in addition to both cognitive
and affective factors, contextual influences play an important
role in a woman’s determination to fake orgasm. The multi-
dimensional construct of motivation for faking orgasm pro-
vides a basis for future research on relationship satisfaction,
sexual desire, arousal, sexual satisfaction, and sexual func-
tioning. Development of the FOS has permitted identification
of theoretically important motivational constructs that are
likely to influence a variety of sexual behaviors.
In addition to continued validation of the FOS, future research
should explore motives for faking orgasm in men. Previous
research has indicated that approximately 25 % of heterosexual
men fake orgasm during sexual intercourse (Muehlenhard &
Shippee, 2010) and no studies have explicitly explored this
phenomenon among gay men. Faking orgasm is an understudied
aspect of women’s sexual behavior and seems to have been
overlooked almost entirely as a male sexual practice.
These findings indicate that the decision to fake orgasm
must be conceptualized outside the narrow assumptions of
sexual dissatisfaction and deceit; future research must focus
on broadening our understanding of these dispositional dif-
ferences and the manner in which each type of motivation
uniquely influences the course and outcome of naturally
occurring sexual behavior and partner interactions. The FOS
is the first assessment tool designed to explore why women
Arch Sex Behav (2014) 43:423–435 433
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fake orgasm and should facilitate further research into this
phenomenon and may help examine the clinical implications
of this behavior as it pertains to the individual and relation-
ships. Such information may ultimately lead to the develop-
ment of clinical interventions to improve the quality of sexual
experiences, as well as sexual and romantic relationships.
Results of the current study underscore the need for continued
research into this newly identified construct and continued
work on establishing the psychometric properties of the FOS.
Acknowledgments This research was supported in part by a Uni-
versity Fellowship awarded to Erin B. Cooper by Temple University.
Authors would like to acknowledge and thank Abigail Seelbach and
Ashley Hampton for their assistance in collecting data for these studies.
The authors would also like to thank the Richard G. Heimberg and the
reviewers of this article for their thoughtful comments and suggestions.
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... An estimated 30% to 75% of women have faked orgasm over their lifetime, [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8] and this rate may be increasing among younger cohorts. 9 Faking orgasm varies with a number of factors, including the woman's motivations 10,11 and the type and characteristics of the dyadic relationship. ...
... 2,10,[12][13][14][15][16][17][18] Among partnerfocused motivations, the desire to protect the partner's feelings and self-esteem appears to be one of the more common reasons for faking orgasm. 7,15,18,19,20 Beyond motivations, faking orgasm also shows variation across types of relationship, not surprising given that women's motivations for being in specific types of relationships vary considerably. 21,22 For example, casual relationships are presumably motivated more by the woman's own sexual pleasure and self-esteem, so faking orgasm for partner-focused reasons would be less likely. ...
... Thus, among the self-focused reasons for faking orgasm is the desire to avoid feelings of insecurity, shame, and deficiency associated with orgasmic difficulty (OD) during partnered sex. 5,7,10,14,16,[35][36][37][38][39] That is, difficulty reaching orgasm and the concomitant desire to disguise a perceived sexual deficiency may increase the likelihood of the woman's faking orgasm, 6,18,40 with a number of studies documenting an association between faking orgasm and OD. 7,16,18,[40][41][42] Further supportive of this idea, OD has emerged as one of the strongest and most consistent predictors of the frequency of faking orgasm among women who reported "ever" faking an orgasm, independent of the type of relationship, including in romantic relationships that tend to change over time. ...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction Faking orgasm by women reportedly occurs quite frequently, with both relationship characteristics and orgasmic difficulty being significant predictors. Aim We explored women's motives that might mediate the associations between orgasmic difficulty and relationship satisfaction on the one hand, with the frequency of faking orgasm on the other. Methods In a study of 360 Hungarian women who reported “ever” faking orgasm during partnered sex, we assessed the direct and indirect (mediated) associations between orgasmic difficulty, relationship satisfaction, and the frequency of faking orgasm. Outcomes Determination of motives that mediate the association between orgasmic difficulty and the frequency of faking orgasm, and the association between relationship satisfaction and the frequency of faking orgasm. Results Increased orgasmic difficulty was directly related to increased frequency of faking orgasm (β = 0.37; P < .001), and each variable itself was related to a number of motives for faking orgasm. However, the only motive assessed in our study that mediated the relationship between orgasmic difficulty and the frequency of faking orgasm was insecurity about being perceived as abnormal or dysfunctional (indirect effect: β = 0.13; P < .001). A similar pattern emerged with relationship satisfaction and frequency of faking orgasm. These two variables were directly related in that lower relationship satisfaction predicted higher frequency of faking orgasm (β = -0.15; P = .008). Furthermore, while each variable itself was related to a number of motives for faking orgasm, the only motive assessed in our study that mediated the relationship between the 2 variables was insecurity about being perceived as abnormal or dysfunctional (indirect effect: β = -0.06; P = .008). Clinical Translation Insecurity related to being perceived as abnormal or deficient, along with sexual communication, should be addressed in women with a history of faking orgasm but who want to cease doing so. Strengths and Limitations The sample was relatively large and the online survey adhered to best practices. Nevertheless, bias may result in sample characteristics when recruitment is achieved primarily through social media. In addition, the cross-sectional sample prevented causal determination and represented Western-based values. Conclusions The associations between orgasmic difficulty and faking orgasm, and between relationship satisfaction and faking orgasm, are both direct and indirect (mediated). The primary motive for mediating the indirect association between the predictor variables and the frequency of faking orgasm was the insecurity about being perceived as deficient or abnormal. Hevesi K, Horvath Z, Miklos E, et al. Motives that Mediate the Associations Between Relationship Satisfaction, Orgasmic Difficulty, and the Frequency of Faking Orgasm. Sex Med 2022;10:100568.
... Faking orgasm, as a sexual strategy used by some women, has been documented for nearly a century. It was touted during the Victorian era by physicians as 'a justifiable innocent deception' by wives looking to please their husbands [2] . ...
... The most common reasons for faking orgasm in the study by Cooper et al. [2] were as follows: (a) faking orgasm out of concern for a partner's feelings; (b) faking orgasm to avoid negative emotions associated with the sexual experience; (c) a woman's attempt to increase her own arousal through faking orgasm; and (d) faking orgasm to end intercourse rapidly. ...
... In contrast to previous arguments that faking orgasm is disingenuous or potentially problematic to individual and relationship health (e.g. Darling and Davdon [10] and Jagose [21] ) or -as some feminist theorists have argued -that faking orgasm is an act that reflects women's submission to the androcentric societal and cultural expectations placed upon them and their sexuality [6,16] , Cooper et al. [2] suggested that some motives for faking orgasm can be conceptualized as relationship-promoting and sexual pleasure enhancing and that a broader and less negativistic view of this practice is in order. In addition, the recent work of Jern et al. [12] concluded that there is no reason to worry that pretending orgasm would cause significant orgasm problems or pain over longer time spans. ...
... Some research on sexual behaviors and outcomes suggests that individuals endorse or are at least aware of cultural sexual scripts and beliefs, including the orgasm scripts described above. For instance, research on pretending orgasm indicates that individuals engage in this behavior for a variety of reasons, such as to reassure a partner of their adequacy as a lover, to avoid upsetting a partner, or to buttress a partner's self-esteem (Cooper, Fenigstein, & Fauber, 2014;Muehlenhard & Shippee, 2010;Roberts et al., 1995;Séguin et al., 2015). These motivations may stem from the conceptualization of orgasm as an indicator of a partner's sexual skills or performance (Braun et al., 2003;Fahs, 2011Fahs, , 2014Muehlenhard & Shippee, 2010;Opperman et al., 2014;Roberts et al., 1995;Salisbury & Fisher, 2014), or of a (male) partner's love and commitment (Fahs, 2011;Lavie & Willig, 2005). ...
... These motivations may stem from the conceptualization of orgasm as an indicator of a partner's sexual skills or performance (Braun et al., 2003;Fahs, 2011Fahs, , 2014Muehlenhard & Shippee, 2010;Opperman et al., 2014;Roberts et al., 1995;Salisbury & Fisher, 2014), or of a (male) partner's love and commitment (Fahs, 2011;Lavie & Willig, 2005). Another commonly reported motivation for pretending orgasm includes wanting to end the sexual encounter "normally" to avoid awkwardness or appearing abnormal or inadequate (Cooper et al., 2014;Muehlenhard & Shippee, 2010). This motivation may be associated with the conceptualization of orgasm as the goal and end point of sex (Opperman et al., 2014;Salisbury & Fisher, 2014) and as a normal part of human sexual response (Lavie & Willig, 2005). ...
Article
Full-text available
While orgasm is often conceptualized as a physiological reflex, research has also shown it to be symbolic and to be attributed significant meaning. However, in the absence of a comprehensive measure assessing cultural orgasm scripts and beliefs, the extent to which individuals personally endorse them is unknown. Grounded in sexual script theory, the present research aimed to develop and validate a measure assessing cultural orgasm beliefs, and to investigate gender differences in their endorsement using the new measure. In Study 1, an MTurk sample (N = 448) completed a preliminary version of the Orgasm Beliefs Inventory (OBI). Exploratory factor analyses revealed 11 orgasm beliefs that could be grouped into seven broad categories (Men’s Orgasms are Easy/Women’s Orgasms are Difficult, Partner Interest Fosters Orgasm, Orgasm is Essential to Men’s Sexual Satisfaction, Orgasm as a Relational Quality Benchmark, Orgasm is Unessential to Women’s Sexual Satisfaction, Simultaneous Orgasm is Ideal, and Orgasm Requires and Fosters Connection). In Study 2, the OBI was completed by 392 participants. Confirmatory factor analysis was conducted and supported a slightly different 7-factor model. The Sexual Dysfunctional Beliefs Questionnaire, Sexual Scripts Scale, and Types of Jealousy Scales were also completed concurrently with the OBI and yielded results in support of the OBI’s convergent and discriminant validity. Compared to women, men scored lower on Men’s Orgasms are Easy/Women’s Orgasms are Difficult, but higher on Orgasm Absence Reflects Relationship Problems. No other gender differences were found on OBI subscale scores. The OBI is a new measure that can be used in future sexual scripts research to explore the relationships between orgasm beliefs and other sexual outcomes and behaviors (e.g., faking orgasm, sexual communication and assertiveness, sexual function and satisfaction, etc.).
... Subtle modulation of linguistic (e.g., instructions to the partner, verbal expressions of pleasure) and nonlinguistic signals (e.g., sighs, groans) can facilitate male ejaculation and thus sperm capture (Levin, 2006). Interestingly, these vocal productions can be genuine or faked, for a wide range of purposes, including for instance stimulating and/or reassuring the partner or oneself, or accelerating copulation termination (Cooper, Fenigstein, & Fauber, 2014). A very interesting study quantified female vocalization in relationship with genital stimulation, based on videos of sexual intercourse. ...
Chapter
The role of the female in copulation as long been studied exclusively as a response to male behavior, if not completely disregarded. Nevertheless, from the establishment of physical contact until penis withdrawal, mammalian females implement a number of hormonal, physiological, and behavioral adaptations to maximize and optimize sperm capture. The initiation of copulation is mostly dependent on female receptivity and the display of behavioral estrus, including the lordotic posture. During this period, the series of copulatory acts emitted by the female is based on a sequence of inhibitory-excitatory events at the initiative of both members of the copulating pair. The significance of female interference with copulatory thrusting has been highlighted in naturalistic conditions that give the female the possibility to pace sexual interaction. In such settings, male intromission, thrusting, and eventually ejaculation are rendered physically possible by female posture, as well as optimized by somatosensory feedback from the female vulva to the penis. Genital interaction during intromission, including female pelvic, perineal, and vaginal contractions, stimulate ejaculation and may increase insemination probability by improving sperm transfer through the cervix. In addition, females can provide direct copulatory stimulation during thrusting through visual and olfactory cues, or vocalizations. The neuroendocrinological mechanisms responsible for mammal sexual adaptations are similar across species, and some basic behaviors such a lordosis present a certain interspecific rigidity. However, many qualitative aspects vary between species, notably the structure of the pattern sequence in a copulatory series, or the characteristic of sensory stimuli and their relative importance for enhancing sperm capture. In particular, human adaptations to copulatory thrusting show a wide diversity that evolutionary tools do not entirely comprehend.
... Evaluating women's faking orgasms based on moral standpoints, researchers have sometimes associated the phenomenon with manipulative personality or lower moral standards. In this line, faking orgasm has been called 'lying to one's partner,' deception and manipulation (Goodman, Gillath, and Haj-Mohamadi 2017, McCoy, Welling, and Shackelford 2015, Cooper, Fenigstein, and Fauber 2014 or associated with personality traits that are characterized by distrust, manipulativeness, and a willingness to exploit others (Brewer, Abell, and Lyons 2016). Similarly, Ellsworth and Bailey (2013) point out a positive relationship between the frequency of faked female orgasm and the likelihood of rahbari 10.1163/18785417-01202008 | Religion and Gender (2022) 1-22 female infidelity, implying that low standards of morality-here, faking and infidelity-appear together. ...
Article
Full-text available
The phenomenon of faking orgasms has been the subject of extensive feminist inquiry, but in contemporary Iran, where sex and sexuality remain sensitive and controversial topics, the topic has not received much scholarly attention. This exploratory pilot study uses qualitative methods to explore the prevalence and the reasons for faking orgasms among a group of women living in urban Iran. The study addresses the possible consequences and implications of faking orgasms for women's sexual life. Eleven female participants took part in the study. The data revealed that the topic was considered taboo even among highly educated working women. It also showed that faking orgasms were related to perceived female moral responsibilities and marital self-sacrifice and the lack of sexual education and knowledge, machismo, male infidelity, porn culture, and sexual performance ideals.
... To date, studies show that it is relatively common for women to fake orgasm, at least occasionally (Braun et al., 2003;Fahs, 2014;Roberts et al., 1995). Somewhere between one-half to two-thirds of women have faked orgasm at some point (Cooper et al., 2014;Herbenick et al., 2019;Muehlenhard & Shippee, 2010). Despite how common it may be to fake it, very little empirical research has examined the circumstances when heterosexual women choose to (or choose not to) fake orgasm, particularly in a non-Western context. ...
Article
Full-text available
This article examines the prevalence and correlates of orgasm and faking orgasm in the last year among a representative sample of Chinese men and women. Existing research on orgasm in China has largely been confined to medical research. To our knowledge, no published studies have examined faking orgasm in a Chinese context. These data come from the Chinese Health and Family Life Survey (CHFLS) conducted in 1999 and 2000. We used multivariable logistic regression to identify independent correlates of orgasm and faking orgasm among 1496 women and 1497 men, ages 20-64. In accounting for orgasm and faking orgasm in China, we found evidence that men and women are trying to manage social expectations and to act in accordance with gender expectations, consistent with research in other countries. Results provide insight into how specific sexual practices (e.g., oral sex) and interactional pressures (e.g., insecurity) are correlated with orgasm and faking orgasm. Findings pave the way for future research on the presence of gender inequality as evidenced through lower orgasm rates among women and higher rates of faking orgasm. These findings have implications for how we conceptualize and study gendered and interactional components of sex, which are often overlooked in research and programmatic efforts in China.
... 17 Thus, faking orgasm may be 1 way for women to conceal their OD and avoid shame, embarrassment, or feelings of failure during partnered sex. 3,9,12,14,21,24,28,29 Yet, while several studies have supported a positive relationship between OD and faking orgasm, 3,9,17,28−30 broad consensus surrounding its role as a primary reason is lacking. For example, 1 study has demonstrated that although faking orgasm and orgasmic disorders correlate positively, the percentage of explained variance is typically low, suggesting the relevance of other variables. ...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction Although faking orgasm among women appears quite common, the roles of orgasmic problems and relationship type in partnered sex and masturbation have not been fully explored. Aim We assessed the relationship between orgasmic problems (separately in partnered sex and masturbation) and faking orgasm across various types of relationships while also considering the role of demographic and sexual function related covariates. Methods In this study of 1,168 Hungarian women, we assessed orgasmic problems, sexual functioning, and the prevalence and frequency of faking orgasm in 3 relationship types: romantic relationships, one-night stands, and continuing sexual relationships of more than one night. Main Outcome Measure Differences in faking orgasm across 3 types of relationships; the association between faking orgasm in 1 type of relationship with faking orgasm in other types of relationships; and the relationship of “orgasmic problems” in partnered sex and masturbation to the presence and frequency of faking orgasm in various relationship types. Results A subset of women who faked orgasm in 1 relationship type were more likely to fake orgasm in other relationship types. Orgasmic problems predicted the occurrence and frequency of faking orgasm in all 3 relationship types, though to different degrees. Other factors, including orgasmic difficulty during masturbation, the frequencies of masturbation and partnered sex, and the self-rated importance of sex were also related to the frequency of faking orgasm. Conclusion Our findings suggest that faking orgasm has both dispositional and situational elements. “Orgasmic problems” in partnered sex was a consistent and robust predictor of the occurrence and frequency of faking orgasm in different relationship types. Hevesi K, Horvath Z, Sal D, et al. Faking Orgasm: Relationship to Orgasmic Problems and Relationship Type in Heterosexual Women. Sex Med 2021;XX:XXXXXX.
... But it is harder to identify musical representations of the inner experience of women akin to the masculine intensity curve. The non-normative status of feminine orgasm precludes standardized sonic representations, other than real or faked vocalizations that are themselves often modeled on men's desire.139 McClary makes a case for Genesis II, a piano trio by Janika Vandervelde, to contain an 'image of female erotic pleasure', but she does not describe the music, nor speaks of orgasms for that matter.140 ...
... But it is harder to identify musical representations of the inner experience of women akin to the masculine intensity curve. The non-normative status of feminine orgasm precludes standardized sonic representations, other than real or faked vocalizations that are themselves often modeled on men's desire.139 McClary makes a case for Genesis II, a piano trio by Janika Vandervelde, to contain an 'image of female erotic pleasure', but she does not describe the music, nor speaks of orgasms for that matter.140 ...
Article
Full-text available
This article discusses the relationship of musical climax and orgasm by considering the case of L'isle joyeuse, a piano piece that Claude Debussy (1862-1918) began in 1903, completing it in the Summer of 1904 soon after starting a sentimental relationship with Emma Bardac, née Moyse (1862-1934), his second wife and the mother of his daughter Claude-Emma, alias 'Chouchou' (1905-1919). By exploring the genesis of the piece, I suggest that the creative process started as the pursuit of a solitary exotic male fantasy, culminating in Debussy's sexual encounter with Emma and leading the composer to inscribe their shared experience in the final, revised form of the piece. The erotic component of the piece has been stressed by, among others, Michael Klein, who speaks of 'undeniable sexual energy' close to the point where, he says, 'the music reaches orgasm.' 1 This description of the final climax seems justified and indeed throws new light on the ways in which music and sexuality are intertwined in the individuals' experience, including, potentially, the listener's. Now, while Klein's insights into the piece are stimulating, he does not justify the use of the word orgasm, which he takes only as a hyperbolic substitute for climax. By exploring the role of music in the actual life of the actors, this article makes a case for orgasm being more than a literary metaphor. At a theoretical level, an ecological approach to music perception suggests that music can afford sexual behaviour and representations in particular situations. I privilege here a discussion of analogies between climax and orgasm, not because I think that orgasm is the essence and purpose of sexual pleasure, as generally thought, but rather because it is well suited for a systematic analysis of the formal relationships between sex and music. 2
Article
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