Scientists at Florida State University have found what many ladies already knew: men use 'risky' tactics to show off their strength, ambition and confidence to woo women.
Apparently, that's the reason why blokes make up four-fifths of the world's skydivers and two-thirds of all rock climbers.
AdvertisementIt has long been believed that women are choosier about men than men are about women.
It's not because girls want to make life difficult for guys; it's because, at least historically, women have had to pick men who could provide for them and their children. This pressure forces males to work harder to prove their worth.
Therefore, social psychologists at Florida State University decided to find the answer to: could risk-taking be one of the ways in which men show off their strength to potential lovers?
In order to reach the conclusion, the boffins asked 134 undergraduate male and female psychology students to participate in an experiment. They wanted to see whether men would take more risks if they were "in the mood" and if the men thought there were beautiful women around for them to woo.
During the experiment, the experts showed students pictures of either 10 attractive or 10 unattractive faces of the opposite sex. Then they asked the subjects how sexually motivated they felt - that is, how interested they were in finding new sexual partners.
One-by-one, each of the students then played a succession of 11 rigged blackjack hands; since the researchers knew what cards the participants had, and all were given the same cards, the scientists could compare how the subjects played each hand. (Asking for a "hit" indicated a risky move, since the player risked going over 21, while "staying" was considered safe.)
Finally, after the game, the researchers tested the students' memories for the faces they had seen before the game.
The men were much more likely to take blackjack risks if they were sexually motivated and had seen images of beautiful women before they played. The guys were also more likely to take risks if they saw attractive female faces and remembered them afterwards - even if they weren't looking for a new partner - perhaps because the faces made more of an impression on them and ramped up their sexual desire.
The behavior of the female students, however, wasn't affected by what they felt, saw, or remembered.
"The bottom line is that risk-taking can be a tool that men use to show potential mates that they have desirable qualities such as confidence or ambition," Live Science quoted study co-author Michael Baker, a doctoral student in social psychology at Florida State, as saying.