A published study led by Erin Fallis, a PhD candidate in Clinical Psychology, is receiving an abundance of media attention worldwide. In just a few days, the study's findings have been featured in over 240 articles and broadcasts. According to UWaterloo Media Relations, it means this Waterloo Arts research story has reached an estimated 4 million readers and viewers around the globe.
The study examines perceptions of sexual satisfaction between partners, and finds that both men and women are equally adept at reading their sexual partner's level of satisfaction.
There’s no point faking it in bed because chances are your sexual partner will be able to tell, a University of Waterloo study has found.
“We found that, on average, both men and women have fairly accurate and unbiased perceptions of their partners’ sexual satisfaction,” says Erin Fallis, PhD candidate and lead author of the study published in Archives of Sexual Behavior.
Predicting sexual satisfaction
The study by Fallis and co-authors Uzma Rehman and Christine Purdon, professors in Waterloo’s Department of Psychology, identified important factors that predict accuracy in gauging a partner’s sexual satisfaction:
- sexual communication
- the ability to recognize emotions
“We also found that having good communication about sexual issues helped participants to understand their partners’ sexual satisfaction. However, even if sexual communication was lacking, a person could still be fairly accurate in gauging his or her partner’s sexual satisfaction if he or she was able to read emotions well.”
The study involved 84 couples that were part of a larger study on sexual functioning and satisfaction. Fallis separated the partners, asked them to each report on their levels of commitment, relationship satisfaction, sexual satisfaction, sexual communication and measured their emotion recognition abilities.
Couples in a sexual relationship develop what psychologists call a sexual script, which forms guidelines for their sexual activity.
Sexual scripts can change with good communication
“Over time, a couple will develop sexual routines,” said Fallis. “We believe that having the ability to accurately gauge each other’s sexual satisfaction will help partners to develop sexual scripts that they both enjoy. Specifically, being able to tell if their partners are sexually satisfied will help people decide whether to stick with a current routine or try something new.”
As well as affirming important factors for healthy sexual relationships, the study’s findings may help to reduce a common stereotype in our culture that women and men have difficulty communicating with and understanding one another.
“The next step in this research is to look at the impacts of having more or less accurate perceptions of one’s partner’s sexual satisfaction over time in long-term relationships," said Fallis. “We expect that having a more accurate understanding of one’s partner’s sexual satisfaction will have positive impacts for both partners’ sexual satisfaction and we’re eager to test this idea.”