As it turns out, people may not be able to help being dishonest if they think it'll lead to sex.
A new study claims that not only will people say things they don’t believe in order to impress potential partners, but that the human brain may be hardwired to do so. This includes everything from minor exaggerations to outright lies.
Researchers studied more than 600 students’ behaviors while they interacted with members of the opposite sex, the New York Post reports. The findings were published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.
“People will do and say just about anything in order to make a connection with an attractive stranger,” study author Gurit Birnbaum said in a statement published by the University of Rochester. “When your sexual system is activated, you are motivated to present yourself in the best light possible. That means you’ll tell a stranger things that make you look better than you really are.”
During the study, subjects were separated into two groups: one was exposed to “sexual stimuli” while the other was exposed to “neutral stimuli.”
In a first phase of the study, the groups were asked to “argue” with a member of the opposite sex. Participants who “had been sexually primed” were more likely to agree with a contrary opinion. Researchers theorized that it was an attempt to make a “favorable impression” in order to increase the odds of getting closer to that person.
In the second phase, the groups were asked to fill out a questionnaire about various preferences. They were then asked to interact with a member of the opposite sex and then fill out a new questionnaire that this person would then see.
Similarly, participants seemed more likely to alter their own opinions or provide answers that contradicted their earlier responses.
Birnbaum, an associate professor of psychology at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya in Israel, also worked with University of Rochester professor Harry Reis on the study.