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

The presence of an attractive woman elevates testosterone and physical risk taking in young men

From: Social Psychological and Personality Science

When researchers asked a group of young adult men 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 findings indicated that the presence of a beautiful woman increased their testosterone levels and encouraged greater risk taking. This article considers how and why, consistent with predictions, being around a woman alters the way men perform evoking both hormonal and neurological changes.

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The authors report a field experiment with skateboarders that demonstrates that physical risk taking by young men increases in the presence of an attractive female. This increased risk taking leads to more successes but also more crash landings in front of a female observer. Mediational analyses suggest that this increase in risk taking is caused in part by elevated testosterone levels of men who performed in front of the attractive female. In addition, skateboarders’ risk taking was predicted by their performance on a reversal-learning task, reversal-learning performance was disrupted by the presence of the attractive female, and the female’s presence moderated the observed relationship between risk taking and reversal learning. These results suggest that men use physical risk taking as a sexual display strategy, and they provide suggestive evidence regarding possible hormonal and neural mechanisms.

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Article details:

Title: The presence of an attractive woman elevates testosterone and physical risk taking in young men

Authors: Richard Ronay and William von Hippel

From: Social Psychological and Personality Science, Vol. 1, No. 1, 57-64 (2010)

DOI: 10.1177/1948550609352807

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