August 31, 2008

Hot Chicks Make Men Nervous

ResearchBlogging.org Yes, really, they do. It's a scientific fact.

As someone who has to read a lot of academic science papers, I occasionally come across studies that really should have been funded by the Ministry of the Bleeding Obvious. I mean, really, it makes you wonder what some researchers are thinking when they carry out these sorts of studies, and whether they actually get grants to do this stuff?

Here, let me explain. An item in the latest BPS Research Digest let me know of an "eye-catching study that didn't make the final cut" (I wonder why?). The premise of this paper is that men with more attractive wives or girlfriends engage more in "mate retention behaviours" which may include actively trying to stop them talking to other men, reading their diaries or emails, and buying gifts to keep them interested. Hey, isn't that how a typical relationship is supposed to be? ;-)

I didn't bother reading the entire paper because the abstract alone was enough for a good laugh. I also have a deadline to meet so there may be more later. You'll have to forgive me for my lack of sophistry in this post because I just can't stop laughing. Let's go through it:


"More attractive women are more likely to be pursued as mates by men other than their long-term partner and, therefore, to place their partner at greater risk of cuckoldry (investing unwittingly in a child to whom he is genetically unrelated)."


This seems a fair enough intro. If your partner happens to be seriously hot it stands to reason that they'd have other guys lusting after them, covertly if not obviously. Let's say that the deal is done, she cheats on you, gets pregnant and decides to have the baby. Unless you're a total loser really, really nice guy, I don't think you'd be easily conned persuaded into bringing up another man's child. Why would you? But listen..


"Men partnered to more attractive women perform more mate retention behaviors – behaviors designed to thwart a woman’s infidelity. With greater risk of female infidelity, men may perform additional anti-cuckoldry tactics such as frequent in-pair copulations (IPC)."


In other words, SEX. And lots of it!

This really is the answer, apparently. If you're frightened that your girl may run off with another man and leave you, there's nothing like a page (or several) from the Kamasutra to put the spice back into things. To offset the "greater risk" of her cheating on you, it is essential to give her what she needs until she's screaming for a coffee break. Whoa Nelly, who knew science papers could make such sexist and racy reading!

And, by the way, is there anything more ridiculous as abbreviating sex? IPC? Couldn't they think of something a tad more interesting that doesn't remind you of the International Pipeline Conference? But then again, I suppose we are discussing plumbing of sorts..


"We secured self-reports from 277 men in a long-term relationship and investigated: (1) the relationship between female partner’s attractiveness and IPC frequency and (2) the mediating role of female partner’s attractiveness on the relationship between IPC frequency and male mate retention behaviors."


I would have loved to have seen that. In plain English, they "investigated" how hot the wives or girlfriends of 277 men and how often they had sex. I can just about imagine a panel of "experts" objectively rating people on standard attractiveness scales (so reminiscent of that paragon of impartiality, hotornot.com) but can you imagine asking people about the details of their sex lives? If you're familiar with the Beck Depression Inventory, you'll see how Item 21 rates "Loss Of Interest In Sex". When I administered this questionnaire in two of the studies I've been involved with, I can tell you that there was much twitching and nervous darting glances, polite coughs, and even an occasional giggle when it came to answering that particular question.

And all this when I minimised observer effects by leaving them to answer the questions by themselves. A seemingly innocent question that asks how much your interest in sex has decreased, if it has, can be a great opportunity for a reactive answer that may not be the whole truth. So imagine how awkward and embarrassing it must have been to ask people how often they had sex with their hot partners? Ah, the wonderful reliability of self-report measures....

And if that wasn't enough, the researchers then investigated to what extent the attractiveness of a woman had on the number of times they had sex and the occurrence of mate-retention behaviours! Really! I mean, wouldn't you wanna get down to it all the time if you had a hottie for a lover? This isn't really surprising stuff, but instead has a creepy feel of voyeurism about it which reminds me of a study I read as an undergrad about how the concept of "personal space" was investigated by researching men's urine flow in public toilets. But that's a story for another day...

Now here's the result of it all:


"The results indicated that female attractiveness: (1) predicts IPC frequency and (2) partially mediates the relationship between IPC frequency and male mate retention behaviors."


See what I mean? The Ministry of the Bleeding Obvious has surely had their hand in this! The results say that the 'hotness' of a female is a good determinant of how many times you'll have sex with her (no, really?!) and is also a factor in how far you'd go to keep her and fend off other mens' advances. I'm not going to delve into the complex nature of relationships nor am I suggesting that physical attractiveness is the only major factor in sexual relations. I mean, I understand the ongoing nature of psychological and sociological research and how the bottom-up approach provides a great and solid foundation for future researches, and it certainly helps to have papers to refer to over every little thing, but come on, I don't think that this paper really deserved all the fanfare it was given by the BPS Digest and how "eye-catching" it was. I am rarely moved to write something almost immediately after reading, but just the abstract alone was enough for me to raise my eyebrows and skip to the next item in my inbox.

But I think that, for those days when I'm in a lighter mood and full of the benevolent desire to spread mirth and joy everywhere, I can allow myself some light entertainment and blog on ridiculous papers like this one. Heck knows, I've seen enough of them as a researcher so it might be fun to poke fun at them as a blogger. I think this might be the beginning of a new series: From the Ministry of the Bleeding Obvious. Catchy eh? :-)

Oh, and one last thing:


"The discussion addresses the mediated relationship, notes limitations of the research, and highlights directions for future research."


This line alone actually made me laugh out loud as well as make me want to download the paper and give it a fuller read. Heck, I might do that when I have a bit more time on my hands. "Directions for future research" indeed, that phrase kills me. :-)
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F KAIGHOBADI, T SHACKELFORD (2008). Female attractiveness mediates the relationship between in-pair copulation frequency and men’s mate retention behaviors Personality and Individual Differences, 45 (4), 293-295 DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2008.04.013

10 comments:

  1. Man - this type of research makes me hot!

    I had so much more that I wanted to say, but I think I'm off to have some IPC with my wife instead.

    I laughed out loud at that line by the way.

    "With greater risk of female infidelity, men may perform additional anti-cuckoldry tactics such as frequent in-pair copulations (IPC)."

    Hilarious!

    On a related note - I'm now awaiting the review of my grant request to fund my planned study: Examining the effects of clitoral stimulation quality on IPC frequency and mate-retention.

    It's bound to be enlightening

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  2. LOL!

    I'm also awaiting approval for my grant proposal; a study that investigates the phenomenon by which individuals in the process of falling generally move in a downward direction, and to what extent this is mediated by body weight.

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  3. Beware, men kill hot women who are bad so ladies, you'd better watch how you behave and what you wear because you don't want your man to kill you.

    You can say hot chicks are whores, especially ones that smile. It's no wonder men will seek out women who look more mysterious and brooding compared to ones that smile because they are more faithful. So, ladies, don't smile. You look like a whore if you do.

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    1. The Potential PhilanderessMay 13, 2012 at 9:06 PM

      And my fiance is very possessive over me. He hates it when I smile, especially when talking to people that we don't know, including other guys. It's easy for women to stray than it is for men because they have many men to choose from and lots of attention. Female infidelity is risky, pregnancy by another man, violence, etc. Plus, it costs more, especially with the pregnancy part.

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  4. Another thing, when a man is partnered to a more attractive woman than he is, he'll get her to cut her hair, usually neck-length, cover it, or tie it in a bun. In addition to that, he'll encourage her to dress down and drab, wear little to no makeup and jewelry. There's been women like that on shows like What Not To Wear and How Do I Look? Highly attractive women whose husbands or boyfriends want them to look less stylish and attractive to other men.

    On average, yes, it's usually the man that gets a woman to commit to him, exclusively so she won't easily sleep with other men.

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    1. And yes, men want women who are less physically attractive so ladies, you have to tone it down and not smile because it makes you not trustworthy to him.

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  5. Another thing hot girls are more likely to cheat on their mates than hot guys do because they get swarms of the opposite sex getting them to do so.

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  6. The only way to avoid making a guy nervous is not to be attractive to other men. Men will marry less attractive women because it's easy not to lose them to other men.

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  7. yay the super hot women I have dated have been the most insecure jealous ppl Ive ever knew existed on this planet. When dudes are all over my girls FB complimenting whatever I take it as a compliment.,.. Why not guys have ZERO game these days its all about the self esteem gents stop being pussies

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