Sunday, 6 April 2008

Sex on the Brain

More from the pseudo-science otherwise known as "psychologists have discovered". Some psychologists - doing research at Stanford - have found that men are more likely to indulge in financially risky behaviour if they think they might get laid.

No, really. Wired News reports that the scientists scanned the brains of 15 male students - not much of a sample, one might think - while inviting them to make bets on random events. Sometimes, they were shown "erotic" images of women, and on those occasions they were more likely to make the bet. Conversely, when the men were shown "scary" pictures of snakes, they were less likely to gamble. The wimps.

They wanted to repeat the experiment on women, but were unable to find any suitable erotic pictures.

It turns out that on those occasions when the guys saw the porn part of their brain described as the "sex and money hub" - obviously one of the more worthwhile neural areas - became stimulated. According to Prof Brian Knutson (I wonder what the students call him behind his back), all this shows how emotion and arousal impact on our financial decisions.

"It didn't matter if the sexy woman didn't tell you anything about the odds of winning a roulette game," Knutson said. "What really matters is that the sexy woman is having an emotional impact. That bleeds over into your financial decisions."

A fact of which Paul McCartney is surely well aware.

The study is apparently part of a "new but growing field called neuroeconomics that attempts to take the hard-wired science of brain biology and mix it with the softer sciences of psychology and economics to figure out why we make the financial decisions we do." Which sounds an awful lot like using complicated and expensive equipment to tell us things we already knew. But there's probably something subtler and more insidious going on here. Something connected with the advertising industry, no doubt.


Edwin said...

Hm yes bears shit in woods territory for sure. I thought it was generally accepted that women were not turned on by pictures, unless they were Dundonians looking at pics of cardies in People's Friend.

Men, esp young men, get turned on by anything resembling a female form which is why porn is driving robotics development. One of Zander's great lines in Buffy was somehting like 'I'm 18, I look at linoleum and think of sex'.

Oh well back to work!

The Heresiarch said...

Ah, Buffy. An infallible indication of good taste. "Porn driving robotics development"? You're probably right: there was a hilarious/ sad documentary last year about men having "relationships" with dolls. One of them actually found himself a real girlfriend, but it didn't last. She got jealous of the dolls. Or perhaps the dolls were jealous of her.