Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

Compendium of interesting bits I come across, with an occasional IMHO

Gorgeous women make men act stupid

“Beautiful women in advertisements make men act stupid.”  Proving the obvious?

And of course, it doesn’t happen the other way around…

From the Toronto Sun, 2003-12-12:

Hot chicks ice brains

Gorgeous women make men act stupid: Study

HAMILTON — Research has proven that beautiful women make men stupid. McMaster University researchers proved men can’t think straight after just looking at photos of attractive women.

Psychology professors Margo Wilson and Martin Daly showed male students pictures of both attractive and non-attractive women.

Then they had the men roll dice.

When they threw double digits, the men would get a choice: Take between $15 and $35 the next day, or take $50 to $75 after a wait of one week to eight months.

The men who had just viewed pictures of “hot” women were far more likely to take the lesser sum right away, says the study, printed recently in Biology Letters, a Royal Society journal.

The same test was done with female students.

There was no difference in the response of the women who had just seen pictures of “hot” men and the response of those who had seen pictures of average or non-attractive men.

The pictures were taken from a popular Web site which invites visitors to rate the attractiveness of people who have submitted pictures of themselves.

The psychologists’ finding is that men stop thinking about consequences when testosterone takes over.

Wilson and Daly, who are married, work in the area of evolutionary psychology, focusing on brain design.

Their research has tended to focus on homicide risk patterns, and one of the factors involved is something called “discounting the future,” Wilson said.

It’s a variable that comes up not only in psychology and criminology, but economics as well.

If a person discounts the importance of the future, the consequences of criminal behaviour will not be as powerful a deterrent, Wilson said.

The men in the study who chose to take the money immediately were discounting the future because they subconsciously made a calculation of utility, she said.

The photos of the attractive women subconsciously lit up courtship and mating responses in the brain. This became associated with an immediate need for money, still important in our culture as part of the courtship ritual.

“This study really is just showing scientifically what marketers already know,” Wilson said. “That beautiful women in advertisements induce men to spend.”

Women, on the other hand, associate courtship with possible long-term consequences like pregnancy and so are less likely to identify any utility in discounting the future.


June 16, 2009 - Posted by | behaviour, brain, evolutionary psychology | , , ,

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