January 31, 2004

The Economics of Orgasm

This post ripped off from the Marginal Revolution.

The Economics of Orgasm
Tyler Cowen

I've been an economist for so long that I don't flinch when the paper abstract starts as follows:

"This paper models love-making as a signaling game. In the act of love-making, man and woman send each other possibly deceptive signals about their true state of ecstasy. Each has a prior belief about the other's state of ecstasy. These prior beliefs are associated with the other's sexual response capacity..."

Or if that is not enough for you: "In this paper, love is formally defined as a mixture of altruism and possessiveness. Love is shown to alter the man and the woman's payoff functions in a way that increases the equilibrium probability of faking, but more so for the woman than for the man."

Here is the full paper. I could go on with quotations, but why don't we look at the empirical results, drawn from an extensive data set and questionnaire:

1. 72 percent of women admit to having faked it in their current or most recent relationship, for men the number is 26 percent.

2. You are more likely to fake an orgasm if you are in love. "It was the men I deceived the most that I loved the most," said Marguerite Duras.

3. Being in love and faking are less positively correlated for men than for women. Perhaps men want to look like studs, regardless of the seriousness of the relationship.

4. Women mind less if their partners fake orgasm. (Might some be positively relieved to have it over?)

5. Faking is correlated with age, but in complicated ways. It depends on whether you love your partner, whether you are a man or woman, and how old you are.

6. The more education you have, the more likely you are to fake orgasm. I found this to be the most interesting result.

Posted by richard at January 31, 2004 11:51 PM | TrackBack