March 21, 2010
Presence Of Women Makes Men Risk Takers

Young male skateboarders take bigger risks and experience higher testosterone in the presence of attractive women.

Los Angeles, CA (March 18. 2010) The presence of an attractive woman elevates testosterone levels and physical risk taking in young men, according to a recent study in the inaugural issue of Social Psychological and Personality Science (published by SAGE).

Researchers asked young adult men to perform both easy and difficult tricks on skateboards, first in front of another male and then in front of a young, attractive female. The skateboarder's testosterone levels were measured after each trick.

When skateboarders attempt tricks, they make a split-second decision about whether to abort the trick or try to land it, based on a mid-air evaluation of the likelihood of success and on the physical costs that failure might bring. It was that moment the researchers sought to examine because it resembles the type of risky decisions that young men make when behind the steering wheel of a car or when in physical confrontations with each other.

Consistent with predictions, the young men took greater risks in the presence of the attractive female even when they knew there was a greater chance that they would crash. Testosterone levels were significantly higher in these men than in the men who were in the presence of another male.

I wonder whether the presence of attractive women would cause male stock and bond traders to make better or worse investment decisions. Should a trading firm isolate their male traders from attractive women? Or hire attractive models to deliver coffee?

Science proves the truths of ancient mythology once again.

"This experiment provides evidence for an effect that has existed in art, mythology, and literature for thousands of years: Beautiful women lead men to throw caution to the wind," write authors Richard Ronay and William von Hippel. "These findings suggest that, for men, the adaptive benefits gained by enticing mates and intimidating rivals may have resulted in evolved hormonal and neurological mechanisms that facilitated greater risk taking in the presence of attractive women."

Some day, with some help from South Park, we might even be allowed to understand male infidelity. Perhaps the CDC can help us understand.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 March 21 11:04 AM  Brain Sexuality

Fat Man said at March 21, 2010 1:54 PM:

I'll bet this study was peer reviewed.

Richard Aubrey said at March 22, 2010 10:47 AM:

Talking with a couple of other middle-aged guys about a catastrophe which had recently happened to some young people, I observed, "Most dangerous thing for a fourteen-year-old boy is a fourteen-year-old girl watching."
The other guys agreed vehemently.
We've been there.

John said at March 22, 2010 10:49 AM:

Is a study really needed to know that guys do stupid shit when pretty girls are around?

BD said at March 22, 2010 1:18 PM:

Brian Wilson nailed this thesis in "Don't Worry Baby" (1964).

Rich Rostrom said at March 23, 2010 9:00 AM:

John: Yes - if the object is to _know_. "Folk wisdom" or "common sense" is usually true, or in some way related to reality, but without actually testing and measuring, it remains a mere prejudice. And there is a lot of stuff people think they know that is not true.

At TED I just watched a talk by a Swedish expert. He tested his students at the elite Karolinska Institute by asking them which nation (in each of five pairs) had the higher child mortality. Each pair differed by a factor of two, so it wasn't close. And the students averaged only 1.8 right - worse than a chimpanzee (i.e. random).

This particular study didn't cost much, and it showed something that could be important to know. For instance, this effect could have serious consequences for the military.

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