Beautiful women and rational thought

It seems that the two do not go together:

Male students, when shown pictures of pretty women, were more likely to opt for short-term economic gain than wait for a better reward in the future.

Both male and female students at McMaster University were shown pictures of the opposite sex of varying attractiveness taken from the website ‘Hot or Not’. The 209 students were then offered the chance to win a reward. They could either accept a cheque for between $15 and $35 tomorrow or one for $50-$75 at a variable point in the future.

Wilson and Daly found that male students shown the pictures of averagely attractive women showed exponential discounting of the future value of the reward. This indicated that they had made a rational decision. When male students were shown pictures of pretty women, they discounted the future value of the reward in an “irrational” way – they would opt for the smaller amount of money available the next day rather than wait for a much bigger reward.

Women, by contrast, made equally rational decisions whether they had been shown pictures of handsome men or those of average attractiveness.

One biologist hypothesizes that the entire effect should be stronger for unattractive men, who must take greater risks to win partners. Furthermore it is known that working with attractive young women makes men more likely to take foolish chances, engage in stupid affairs, and end up divorced, here is one study.

My take: I suspect this is all true, I fear it will be used to construct an efficiency argument for restricting pornography and tightening social mores. And the next time I do something crazy, I will blame it on having a beautiful wife.

Addendum: Here is some entertaining commentary.


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