My neighbor has a 13-year-old boy. One day he came back from school, telling me: “I like a girl sitting next to me, and I said hi to her today.” I asked if he impressed her, and this is his answer: “Yeah. She asked if I know guitar, I said yes.”
Well, as far as I know, all he knew was plucking a string to make a "guitar noise."
When we meet a potential partner, we tend to embellish or lie, or “change attitudes and engage in deceptive self-presentation,” according to a new study. Researchers hypothesized that sexual thoughts, or more precisely, activation of an individual’s sexual system, would increase a person's efforts to manage first impressions, bringing with it deceptive self-presentation.
634 heterosexual students, including 328 females and 306 males, with an average age of nearly 25, were involved in the experiment to test the hypothesis. The participants are divided into two groups, one of which exposed to sexual stimuli and the other group to neutral stimuli.
The researchers then carried out a four-study course.
Each two participants were given a controversial topic, like whether to accept a job offer abroad or to reject the offer to stay close to family and friends. They were assigned one for and one against to argue in a face-to-face interaction.
After that, participants rated the extent to which they outwardly expressed agreement with the other participant’s position during the interaction. Results showed that the group with sexual stimuli expressed more agreement than the other group.
Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire about their preferences in various life situations, like “to what extent does it bother you to date someone who is messy?” or “do you like to cuddle after sex?” Next, participants were subliminally exposed to either a sexual or a neutral picture prime.
Then the participants were told they would chat with another participant (who was actually an opposite-sex research team member) online. They looked at an online profile of the chatting subject presenting his or her preferences on various subjects. After that, they were asked to make their own online profile to be sent to the other participant.
The result showed that participants tended to conform their chatting subject’s preferences even only an erotic picture was shown in the pictures or videos they saw.
Study 3 and 4
Researchers asked participants to talk with an attractive research team member about how many sexual partners they had had. Then the participants finished anonymous questionnaires to provide a true baseline for the researchers.
Results showed that participants who had been sexually primed were more likely to lie, reporting lower numbers of previous sexual partners to a potential mate.
Interpreting the findings
"People will do and say just about anything in order to make a connection with an attractive stranger," says Birnbaum, a psychologist. "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."
Next time when you meet someone, maybe just cut off a little bit impression he/she has shown you, then you are closer to who he/she really is.