A new study in the Journal of Experimental and Social Psychology has found that men really do lose their wits around attractive women .
The story, published in the Telegraph (London) says that even a few minutes talking to a pretty woman affects men's ability as measured in cognitive tests. As the story points out, these findings have implications for "men who flirt with women in the workplace, or even exam results in mixed-sex schools."
The conclusions drawn from this study also have implications for the depth and persistence of sex differences. One would not expect a university-based study to have a bias toward traditional sex stereotypes. So, it is interesting to note that the conclusions are that men might be "reproductively focused" while women seem to find other attributes as important or more important than merely looks. The story gives no hint of irony or skepticism about these unconscious sex differences, either on the part of the researchers or the reporter. I am a bit surprised nothing was noted about the nature vs. nurture debate. In fact, the newspaper report indicates these differences are assumed to be inborn or "programmed".
All the tests subjects were heterosexual men. The study says nothing about the affects of a pretty woman on men with SSAD. "Women, however, were not affected by chatting to a handsome man."