Women Make Men Dumber?
“Talking to an attractive woman really can make a man lose his mind,” says The Telegraph. “Men get dumber just thinking women are nearby,” adds The Globe & Mail. And the more attractive she is, the dumber he gets.
Actually men may make women dumber, too. I’ll get to that in a moment.
Dutch researchers asked 71 straight male and female college students to perform a series of cognitive tests. Some were told they would be monitored by an unseen person. Others interacted with real live people.
When women were involved, seen or not, men’s performance dropped. But the presence of men had no effect on women’s functioning.
Why the difference? Lead researcher, Sanne Nauts, speculates that the men were preoccupied with how to impress the women – or how to make a good impression should they meet. And that distracted them from the task at hand.
While the researchers turned to evolutionary psychology to suggest that men get distracted because they pursue, while women wait and choose, I might note that while men are biologically more oriented toward pursuing sex (they have more testosterone, twice as much of their brain is devoted to sex, and their brain more quickly activates to pursue sex), in our culture men are also expected to take the lead. All this leaves them more distracted when given an opportunity to make that first move.
Interestingly, the study arose after one of the researchers was so struck by an attractive woman that he couldn’t remember his address when she asked where he lived. Apparently he was trying too hard to make a good impression.
But men may make women dumber, too. Once a woman is alerted to the fact that an attractive man might be interested in her, a woman may become flustered, distracted by the work of trying to look good.
Most people get distracted when they’re trying to look good. And that, unfortunately, can make us flub up. Sad but true: wanting to make a good impression can leave us looking like dimwits.