Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gender:  Sex on the Brain Proves Costly for Men

New research suggests the mere idea of an encounter with a woman can impair men's cognitive performance.
In one experiment, Casually mentioning a female instead of a male name was sufficient to impair men's cognitive performance, the team from the Radboud University Nijmegen Behavioral Sciences Institute writes in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. In another, a brief instant-messaging exchange was enough to do the trick.

Moreover, these effects occur even if men do not get information about the woman's attractiveness, adds the researchers, led by Sanne Nauts.

The research builds on a much-discussed 2009 study by Johan Karremans (one of the authors of the new paper). It found men's, but not women's, cognitive performance declined following five to seven minutes of socializing with an attractive stranger. That study concluded that heterosexual males are, in such situations, expending their cognitive resources ... on making a good impression.

Men's cognitive performance might be affected if they are talking to a woman on the phone (or already before that, while they were waiting for her phone call), if they are chatting with a woman online, or if they are sitting in the waiting room of their new, female, doctor, Nauts and her colleagues write.

The study took place in a university environment; the participants were mostly young (their mean age was 21). It's not certain the results would be duplicated among the general population.

For more, see Sex on the Brain Proves Costly for Men by Tom Jacobs, January 16, 2012 at Miller-McCune.

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