They say the brain is an amazing thing, able to recall some of the most intricate of details until one sits at the table to commence an exam, or you meet an attractive person…
Why is it that sexy people can turn our brains to mush? Well don’t despair, if you experience such things you are not alone… A team of researchers from Radboud University in The Netherlands have confirmed that we are cognitively impaired by the presence of someone who we find attractive. And men seem to have it worse!
The theory is that men seem to be so focussed on making a good impression that there is little room left in the brain to cognitively put together solid sentences and to just make sense.
The research process involved both men and women who undertook a series of cognitive tests. Subjects had to memorise a sequence of numbers and letters, then tested on recall.
After mixing with people who they deemed as attractive men performed more poorly on the tests then they otherwise would have. Women subjects in the study had minimal or no difference in their performance on the tests.
The results did not differ for people regardless of their relationships status nor age; which sadly means even after years of marriage we still are hopeless at impressing people we find sexy.
So, what is going on?
The lead investigators suggest that Impression management requires careful monitoring and modifying of one’s own behaviour to optimize the overall impression an individual wants make on the interaction partner, making it an effortful and cognitively demanding endeavour.
Some theorist have suggested this marked difference between men and women in such a study is when talking to an attractive women man tend to become ‘reproductively focussed’ because men are programmed by evolution to think more about mating opportunities. Women on the other hand tend to look for signs beyond looks such as wealth, youth and kindness in relation to reproductive focus.
How does this affect us?
Such an issue seems fun on the surface, but it does raise points of concern for men’s ability to focus in places such as the workplace or examination room. If mixing with others who a man finds sexual attractive then their cognitive ability may be hindered in such environments affecting the outcomes of the tasks they undertake.
What’s the solution?
Surrounding oneself with people who they do not find attractive is not always an option, so the practice of mindfulness and allowing feelings and thoughts to pass through us but not to latch onto them is the secret to getting things done when the room is full of ‘hotties’ – good luck!