Women Make Men Dumber

Talking to an attractive woman really can make a man lose his mind.

So 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.

Dumb or dumber?

Dumb or dumber?

The researchers turned to evolutionary psychology to suggest that men get distracted because they pursue, while women wait and choose. But you’d think that becoming dumber would not be so great, from an evolutionary perspective. Why choose the dumb guy?

But in our culture men are expected to take the lead. And that leaves them more distracted when given an opportunity to make the 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 and 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.

This is a rerun. I’m on vacation.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on July 20, 2015, in men, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, women and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 45 Comments.

  1. Distracted to the point of dumbness in many cases, may be; but there are good number of instances, Georgia, where it is just the reverse, with a beautiful presence acting as a spur for other person to put his or her best foot forward. Beauty on one side bringing out what is beautiful in the other…best wishes..

  2. I recall my favorite t-shirt text read, “If a man speaks in the desert and there is no woman to hear, is he still wrong?

    Interesting post and food for thought, as usual.

  3. Absolutely true! I completely agree with the crux of the post…”Most people get distracted when they’re trying to look good.”…

  4. The researchers turned to evolutionary psychology to suggest that men get distracted because they pursue, while women wait and choose.

    Well I think it’s more than that. Like men who already are dating with the woman or had sex with her, whether she’s a wife, girlfriend, or mistress or side lady who is very hot and seductive and essence unlike other women. She can capture a man’s lust to a point of doing stupid things and prey to manipulate him too. It’s not because men simply take the lead, but well, how the little head has a huge control of many men, or over the big head. Women not driven as much or as easily like men, aren’t controlled by their lower part like men are of theirs.

    • Evolutionary psychology has quite a few problems. I suspect it’s largely because men are the ones who are expected to pursue. So women have less to get nervous about simply for that reason. But as I mentioned in the post, women can get flustered, too.

      Every now and then your comments sound a tad misogynistic. Since women can also experience love and lust and get flustered by men, too, women can be led by men and hurt by them, too. but it’s not all men and all women. And it’s not so much about gender as relationships and some people who abuse love, lust or whatever , like those criminals who used a woman’s so-called love to break out of jail.

      • This is why I get annoyed with some feminist things. Easily offended or somethings sexist. It’s not that women don’t have lust or love, but you’ve said it, how women don’t get aroused visually by men but men visually aroused by women. So it makes sense since men are more visual or trained to be more visual, that men will be not just flustered but controlled easier with lust than women are. That’s why you’ve seen the downfall of powerful men come from their stupid choices from the seduction of a beautiful woman or beautiful woman. I brought up the plays too.

        That’s why many men feel women have a “sex” related power over men, because of how much men want sex easily and how woman aren’t nearly as fazed by men’s bodies and looks. So the disparity and because of that lust, men being stupid or acting stupid and women less affected. I wasn’t talking about love though either. I’m talking about instant desire for sex, which is why men are easily doing something stupid, because of the thought of having sex with the sexy woman showing cleavage or whatever. That woman noticing or knowing an attractive man is noticing her, might like the attention, but there are other good looking guys that she might have noticed and women aren’t flustered by him. Usually when this flustered feeling happens for women, it;s from a particular guy who she might have talked to, has a crush on, has chemistry. For the few guys that it’s someone she doesn’t know, it’s usually a particularly hot guy or who fits her exact preference, because there cant’t be that few of good looking men for women. Like for a guy, it’s a sexy and attractive woman, she doesn’t have to be particularly hot, but hot, not necessarily any hot woman, but not like the selective attractive person it seems for women.

      • Well you got pretty insulted when I mentioned that mother nature needs more women then men to keep the human race going in a major drought or something like that.

  5. This is an interesting topic to shed light on. I think it may have something to do with basic primal rituals we use to attract each other. While you may think as an evolved species we would want to attract each other by letting the opposite sex know we are competent there is a good chance that the men were trying to charm the female asking questions and therefore not paying attention or giving their best effort. Unfortunately looks and charm are deemed more important by society and one may feel the pressure to portray that aspect rather than letting their intelligence shine through. The part of the post that explains how a woman will get flustered after she knows a man is interested in her is an unfortunate truth. Most of us can’t multitask, or at least not that efficiently. Therefore, if you’re spending all your time trying to perfect your hair flip you may not be performing well on the task at hand.

  6. Jansi Christhuraj

    Your article made me think about some thing I do everyday. I am a straight women. Every day while driving, if I see a male driver, in front of me or behind or next to me, I panic and I want to be perfect. I maintain the correct speed, use the indicator signal and follow all the traffic rules perfectly. The another most important thing is, I don’t pick my nose if I surround by male drivers wether they are watching me or not. If I see a female driver while I am driving, I don’t panic, and I drive more relaxed that means I do clean my nose. Even though the male drivers are complete strangers to me, I just want to show them that I am perfect. Some times I get mad at myself, why I am doing this?. After I read your article, I understand that why I am acting dumber.

  7. My point: https://broadblogs.com/?s=men+who+hate+pretty+women

    remember that post? I think it relates and goes along with this one too.

    oh yea this too. Men act dumber for the same reason some men hate pretty women and women having a sex power over men for obvious reasons. https://broadblogs.com/2015/02/18/reducing-women-to-objects-that-overpower-men/

  8. Isn’t a man acting stupid arouns pretty women a sign of this “power” women have over him or women have over men?

  9. Yes, If the opposite person is more attractive than you, you tend to get flustered while trying to impress them.

  10. I do think this argument can go both ways. Maybe the presence of attractive women can be distracting for men, and the idea of potential attraction from a man can be distracting for a woman. Fumbling words and spacing thoughts can be a normal result to attraction. Though this can be a momentary lapse, I don’t know if it can be considered “dumber”. In daily life it is difficult to remain obsolete when an attractive woman or man grabs your attention, though the fundamental of decreasing intelligence sounds unlikely. Again, being preoccupied by attractive people in order to make an impression can be done without “getting dumber”. I do agree though about the being distracted and wasting time trying to look good. When you spend so much time attempting to look your best you can end up looking worse. When little attention is focused around yourself and your looks, the true attractive aspects of you can surface.

    • The argument can go both ways, but research suggests that it goes one way more often.

      Pretty much whenever we get self-conscious about how we come across we act dumber. It’s hard not to when we are distracted from the task at hand.

  11. Just an observation, but I find some women actually become more intelligent around attractive men. These women are naturally confident anyway, but as a flirtation technique, their ability to keep a conversation going where they neither allow the man to dominate intellectually, nor feel the need to prove that they themselves are superior, is astonishing. It is a very interesting balance, and I would imagine the technique needs some practice to get right. I find flirtation techniques so interesting in general, because they can say a lot about gendered behaviour. Especially when done subtly but effectively, which I find women do far better than men, it becomes an art.

  12. When I was younger I would “lose my words” whenever I’d stand in front of a man I was attracted to. I subconsciously was dumbing myself down thinking that’s what I needed to do to draw in the opposite sex. Served no benefit and only drew in the kinds of guys wanting that.

  13. Well you got pretty insulted when I mentioned that mother nature needs more women then men to keep the human race going in a major drought or something like that.

    I wasn;t insulted, I always knew it and agreed. I told others how, while most society is run by men, women in the biological sense are more important than men and more valuable to human race survival. I just wrote that to show how it’s, not sad, but unfortunate that men were made less important than women. Just mind went to how disposable male lives are, whether protecting or in a war etc.

    • Man aren’t less important than women, other than when it comes to the ability to survive in a famine or something like that. Right now, most societies think that men are more important than women. most societies think that men are more important than women. But we both have different strengths. Whether it is ability to survive or inability to lift heavy things or fight against enemies. Neither sex to be valued over the other.

  14. Emily Quintanilla

    I would like to agree to disagree with this post. I do completely agree that both parties regardless of being a male or female have strong emotions that come across out physical body and thoughts, for example if we’re to have someone that is very attractive approach you you might start flirting or prolonging the conversation to get to know the individual for longer. It may be that the testosterone level of men increases as time progresses with a female that may approach them. Women now a days are holding positions that mean have ( and long ago I feel like that was not even possible) to a point I feel like women are fighting for respect and if that means that men may feel intomidated by the looks or way presenting themselves as a woman then so be it, it’s an advantage I would say. But I do not think that men become completely sense less to their life.

  15. Reading this post brings up a completely separate discussion regarding the stigmatism on “the first move.” For so long the cultural norm has been for men to initiate romantic relationships. However with the changing tide in women’s empowerment, you would expect this to change. As more women are entering high power positions at work and relations between men and women are becoming more equal, you would think that this would extend to the areas of relationships as well. Regardless, men are still expected to start relationships and women are expected to wait for their “Prince Charming” to arrive. I will admit to the fact that even though I am a very independent woman, I still expect guys to “make the move.” I would assume this is left over from times when fathers would organize the marriages of their children, including dowries and the possibilities of political advancements. However, I think as much as we call for change in cultural gender stereotypes, this is one that is not as often addressed.

  16. This article is very interesting and it made me realize a few things. I agree to most, if not all, of what this article states. When someone is normally attracted to someone, they tend to try their hardest to impress them. They start to overthink and react different around them. For example, when a guy finds a girl attractive, he can try to impress them by dressing nicer or acting differently. When this girl approaches them and makes a small conversation, he can get flustered and become awkward; he forgets how to act himself. A simple question can end up being very difficult for him to answer because is so distracted and confused that the girl he likes is actually talking to her. I agree with the article when it states that men get distracted. Distraction can be a reason why women can supposedly make men dumber. The word dumber is used to describe men forgetting how to act normal. I also agree when it states that women wait and choose which men they would like to interact with. Men would do almost anything to grab a woman’s attention and hopefully this is enough for her to chose him and eventfully lead them to dating. The test described in the article truly confirms that women can make dumber. I also like how this article states that men can make women dumber because I think that is true. Women could also get flustered when an attractive guy approaches them that they start to act weird.

  17. This is an interesting take on the relationship between women and men. I agree the point that is made here that when a woman or man is preoccupied with an attractive person of the opposite gender, they become preoccupied in their thoughts and come off as dimwits. For men this is because they are nervous on how to make the first move and for women this is because they don’t know how to respond to a man’s interest in them. However, I don’t agree with the general notion that a woman makes a man dumber overall. He may come off as so in the first couple of conversations he has with a woman, however, as they become more comfortable with each other their true intelligence will come out. Along with this, there are still many women or men in this world who are very composed around the opposite gender and know how to exactly react without becoming too stressed.

  18. This post was definitely entertaining, and definitely true! Unfortunately, there is something about feeling watched and scrutinized, whether you really are or not, that effects our performance and ability to act normally in certain situations. I am sure we can all reflect to a time where we were aware of an attractive member of the opposite sex being present and having that effect our behavior. This is a strange concept because wouldn’t we be encouraged to act our best in front of someone we were trying to impress, instead of becoming flustered and likely to mess up? I definitely relate to this article because in high school, whenever the boy I liked came to watch me play volleyball, I would always for some reason mess up. I remember trying to focus and play the best to my ability, but my nerves would always interfere and make me look stupid- so yes, men do make us look like dimwits, but the good thing is that it plays both ways ☺

  19. This is so true, and it is so true that it is not only men but women too, I believe it works boot ways that when we are trying to attract people or impress them sometimes we do not realize that we look so stupid doing it, we sometimes become arrogant just to show them we are good for them, or sometimes because we are so focused so much on trying to impress them in our minds we already are trying to think of ways on how to impress them and when it gets to the point when the other person is already in front of you, all those things that are in your head sometimes becomes too much and you forget what you need or want to say so people end up saying stupid things.

  20. I don’t think women purposely aim to make men dumber. We’re all fascinated by aesthetic people and we naturally feel nervous when they’re around. I’ve experienced this several times, where I know someone attractive is watching me do something. It definitely makes me nervous and I end up making mistakes. I think the headline of this article should be changed to something along the lines of “Attractive people make us dumber.” It isn’t much of a sexually issue but rather an issue of physical appearance. Like in the article, it is explained that we as humans tend to want to impress whomever we find appealing. Men always want to impress whatever women they find attractive but then they feel nervous and mess up. Just like men, women have this problem as well. Overall, I believe this situations applies to both men and women. We go through the same situation throughout our social experiences.

    • Women definitely don’t do it on purpose. I think the main reason that guys are more likely to experience it is because society has given them the role to pursue. So that puts on additional pressure.

  21. Personally, I think that both sexes become more dumb while around attractive opposite sex, however, I do believe that now a days this happens more with men. This is because women in the work place are very serious about their jobs and wanted to succeed and move up within the company. Working women are more likely to care about their jobs than the attractiveness of a coworker; if women in high jobs slack, they are more likely to lose their job and this is a reason women are working hard to show men that they suffice. However, if women are not hard working, I believe that women “dumb” themselves down and even “slut” themselves up to get a man. These are the women that may not want to work and just want a sugar daddy. Overall, I think men and women both dumb themselves down for the other sex, but I think women are started to learn that this wont get them anywhere in the work place, only scoring a sugar daddy.

    • Yeah, I mentioned that both men and women experience it. I have. That as I mentioned to someone else, I think the main reason that guys more often experience it is because society has given them the role to pursue. So that puts on additional pressure.

  22. Interesting that the men get flustered by the presence of any women but the study with women was only if the man was interested in her. Could it be because men instantly relate women to sex where as women can just relate the man to the task they are completing unless specifically told he is interested?

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