Women do make men throw caution to the wind, research confirms

March 19, 2010

The presence of an attractive woman elevates testosterone levels and physical risk taking in young men, according to a recent study in the inaugural issue of Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Researchers asked young adult to perform both easy and difficult tricks on skateboards, first in front of another male and then in front of a young, attractive female. The skateboarder's testosterone levels were measured after each trick.

When skateboarders attempt tricks, they make a split-second decision about whether to abort the trick or try to land it, based on a mid-air evaluation of the likelihood of success and on the physical costs that failure might bring. It was that moment the researchers sought to examine because it resembles the type of risky decisions that young men make when behind the steering wheel of a car or when in physical confrontations with each other.

Consistent with predictions, the young men took greater risks in the presence of the attractive female even when they knew there was a greater chance that they would crash. levels were significantly higher in these men than in the men who were in the presence of another male.

"This experiment provides evidence for an effect that has existed in art, mythology, and literature for thousands of years: Beautiful women lead men to throw caution to the wind," write authors Richard Ronay and William von Hippel. "These findings suggest that, for men, the adaptive benefits gained by enticing mates and intimidating rivals may have resulted in evolved hormonal and neurological mechanisms that facilitated greater risk taking in the presence of attractive women."

More information: The article "The presence of an attractive woman elevates testosterone and physical risk taking in young men" in Social Psychological and Personality Science is available free for a limited time at spp.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/1/1/57

Related Stories

Recommended for you

After searching 12 years for bipolar disorder's cause, team concludes it has many

December 15, 2017
Nearly 6 million Americans have bipolar disorder, and most have probably wondered why. After more than a decade of studying over 1,100 of them in-depth, a University of Michigan team has an answer - or rather, seven answers.

Suicidal thoughts rapidly reduced with ketamine, finds study

December 14, 2017
Ketamine was significantly more effective than a commonly used sedative in reducing suicidal thoughts in depressed patients, according to researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). They also found that ketamine's ...

Do bullies have more sex?

December 14, 2017
Adolescents who are willing to exploit others for personal gain are more likely to bully and have sex than those who score higher on a measure of honesty and humility. This is according to a study in Springer's journal Evolutionary ...

Children's screen-time guidelines too restrictive, according to new research

December 14, 2017
Digital screen use is a staple of contemporary life for adults and children, whether they are browsing on laptops and smartphones, or watching TV. Paediatricians and scientists have long expressed concerns about the impact ...

Eating together as a family helps children feel better, physically and mentally

December 14, 2017
Children who routinely eat their meals together with their family are more likely to experience long-term physical and mental health benefits, a new Canadian study shows.

The iceberg model of self-harm

December 14, 2017
Researchers have created a model of self-harm that shows high levels of the problem in the community, especially in young girls, and the need for school-based prevention measures.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Mar 19, 2010
Actually, you might say that the fact that the effect "has existed in art, mythology, and literature for thousands of years" is itself evidence that it is real. You don't need a Ph.D. from a modern university to be a great observer of human nature.
Mar 19, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
not rated yet Mar 19, 2010
Don't be so quick to validate the conclusions. It's most certainly no proof until a more narrow research is made. The presence of a beautiful woman does not solely mean raised testosterone levels, however injecting testosterone does. Basically much more than raised testosterone levels happen inside the male body when in the presence of a beautiful woman. Correlation does not equal causality.
5 / 5 (1) Mar 19, 2010
Instead of seat belts, every car should have a standard-issue ugly chick in the back seat. For added benefit, they can give directions and tell you when to apply the gas and brake

I give this post 10 minutes before the moderators remove it
5 / 5 (1) Mar 19, 2010
@notsleep -- its called the wife effect

but in all seriousness

they asked young adult men to do skate board stunts regardless of whether or not they knew how to execute it - and if the practicing or conditioning happened in front of a maloe first then the option to finish or - not abort - in front of a female also indicates that they have practiced the challenge- note it does not say the percentage of successful completions of the riskier stunts. This is full of flaws, namely conditioned practice environments, lack of the ability to create a control group, and the check th ask if the men were heterosexual vs homosexual to draw a powerful conclusion as to sexual desire increase testosterone and riskier behavior - yes i am drawing the conclusion a gay male and a straight male are effected the same when in close proximity to someone they find attractive - and then did the researchers find the lady attractive or did the guys performing the action.

lies,damn lies, and staticstics
5 / 5 (1) Mar 19, 2010
Yes, you do need a study. Because without the study, there is no quantification/testing for testosterone levels, and thus no baseline blood levels of the hormone with which to correlate particular internal chemistry with particular external behavior.

Being a knee-jerk critic of basic science merely makes one part of your body look smart, which is not your brain.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.