The mere anticipation of interacting with a woman can impair thinking in men, according to a study published in the journal Archives of Sexual behaviour. The authors of the study suggest that “men are likely to be motivated to invest precious cognitive resources even in the absence of information about their interaction partner, because she might be an attractive mate.”
The Norwegian researchers started from findings of a 2009 study that indicated the impairment of cognitive performance in heterosexual men (but not heterosexual women) after an interaction with someone of the opposite sex.
The new study used two experiments to test if the decline occurs after superficial interactions in daily life (e.g. speaking on the phone), in which men have little or no chance to impress a woman or have no information about attractiveness.
In the first experiment, men were told that they were being observed by a female experimenter while doing a language task.
In the second men anticipated having a superficial interaction with a woman later on.
Based on results from Stroop tests taken before and after, men’s mental performance declined if they were led to believe that they interacted with a woman via computer or even if they merely anticipated an interaction with a woman.
The mental performance of women in the study was not influenced by the sex of the observer.
[via Scientific American]
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