Proof that men lose common sense when aroused

Predictably IrrationalYou are probably thinking, “Who needs proof that men lose their ability to think when they are aroused?” We know this anecdotally, and men will agree, so we’re not man bashing. But in his book Predictably Irrational author Dan Ariely cites a study he conducted that gives us empirical evidence.

Dr. Ariely recruited 35 college men to answer questions about their responses to sexual stimuli and activities in a non-aroused state, then again in an aroused state. Each participant was asked to 1) “evaluate the attractiveness of different sexual stimuli and activities, 2) the lengths the respondent would go to in order to obtain sexual gratification, and 3) their attitude toward sexual risks in the heat of passion.”

The sad part for me was the dramatic difference between the subjects’ answers in the different states. In an aroused state, the men said they were much more likely to:

  • take a date to a fancy restaurant to increase his chance of having sex with her
  • tell a woman that he loved her to increase the chance that she would have sex with him
  • encourage his date to drink to increase the chance that she would have sex with him
  • keep trying to have sex after his date says ‘‘no.’’
  • slip a woman a drug to increase the chance that she would have sex with him.

Additionally, the men said they were less likely to use a condom in the aroused state if even if they didn’t know the sexual history of a new sexual partner. And they were also less likely to use a condom if they were afraid that a woman might change her mind while he went to get it.

Since this study was done on college-aged men, what does it mean for us? Presumably, midlife men have more maturity and common sense than an 18 to 22 year old. So is this data relevant or not?

I can only share my experience having gone out now with 93 midlife men. While I’d say they are less driven sexually than college-aged men, many midlife men still have a strong sexual drive. So much so that when aroused they can lose much of their sense of appropriateness. I’ve had men who have said, “I can wait as long as you need before we have sex” then try to press forward after I told them I wasn’t ready. I’ve had men ignore boundaries that we set when we were sitting across the dinner table an hour earlier. I chocked it up to their being horny, disrespectful, and single focused.

The study says both men and women need to avoid getting into situations where men are likely to ignore their own boundaries and monitors. It said you need to not get into situations that would test them. Yes, some men can manage to pull themselves out of a passionate fervor, but some just don’t seem to have that control. It’s as if a stun gun has been shot into their brain and it is numb. A common phrase I hear from men is, “We can only think with one brain at time — either the one in our head or the one in our ….”

So the bottom line for us is if we know we are not ready to become sexual with a man, don’t get into situations where our own passion can meld into theirs. I know it sounds common sense, but as Dr. Ariely has shown empirically, common sense gets run over by the Mac truck called lust.

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4 responses to “Proof that men lose common sense when aroused”

  1. rkintn Avatar

    I have always told my daughters to be careful of the situation they put themselves in while dating. I’m going to print this out and let them read it as proof that mom isn’t such a worrywart after all. Part of the reason I’ve withdrawn myself from the online dating scene is because of inappropriate behavior of the men with instant messages and emails. I figure if they are that way and they haven’t even met me, how would they be in person? I’m not saying all men are bad or even that they all act this way, but it’s too exhausting to try and keep talking to toads to find a prince.

  2. Emily Booth Avatar
    Emily Booth

    I hope the researchers were aware that the 4th and 5th dot-points are criminal behaviors, especially the 5th dot-point. Don’t want to go there.

  3. Mike Avatar

    Older men are better with it. However the more aroused a person is the greater chance they would do something stupid whether they are male or female.

  4. The Seductress Within Avatar

    I agree with Mike, it probably doesn’t matter if a person is male or female, the more aroused and or impared they are with alcohol or drugs, the more likely they will do stupid things.

    People must be careful not to put themselves into situations where their own or the another’s poor judgment can harm them.