The experience of being bewildered or mind-blown in the presence of an attractive woman is something that most men can attest to having had, but many may suspect that the analogy is simply a matter of hyperbole or romantic language. Not so, suggests a recent study performed at Radboud University in the Netherlands. Inspired by a meeting with a woman who effectively made him forget his own home address, the lead researcher set out to discover whether men really do lose their minds in the presence of those they find beautiful –and whether women themselves experience the same issue.
Working with groups of university students, the research team assigned both males and females basic memory tests consisting of strings of letters. After spending a while with the tests, the subjects spent a few moments speaking either with a member of their own sex or with an attractive member of the opposite sex. The participants were then instructed to return to the memory tests, and results were gathered. Perhaps unsurprisingly, those males who spoke with attractive females performed far worse than males who spoke with another male. In fact, longer encounters with the females produced proportionately poorer results. Conversely, women did not show a significant decrease in performance regardless of whether they spoke with another woman or an attractive male.
The researchers posit that men in the presence of attractive females instinctively devote their brainpower to securing a mate, whereas females have other considerations linked to biological responses. No matter the explanation, the research may help create more productive and comfortable environments for employees and students who find themselves working inefficiently, studying with distractions, or feeling cornered by excessive attention.
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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