In the movie Unfaithful, Diane Lane’s character seems to have it all: a nice house, kids, and a hunky husband to boot (played by Richard Gere). Yet, following a chance encounter with an attractive younger man, she finds herself being, well, unfaithful. Why would she risk all of the nice things in her life by cheating? There are several reasons why she would take such a risk. It could be something about her (her personality or self-esteem), something about her relationship (not satisfying or unfulfilling), or something about the situation (she just had the chance). However, infidelity or cheating could also result from, at least partially, underlying biological and hormonal influences.
Entries in testosterone (9)
Dr. Robin Edelstein talked about her research on how power/dominance relates testosterone and “unrestricted” sexual desires. In her talk she cited the recent example of David Petraeus (the former general and CIA chief), who resigned in disgrace after admitting an extra-marital affair. Why do powerful men like Petraeus behave this way? Edelstein’s research showed that when researchers in the lab primed partnered (i.e., not single) men to feel powerful, they had an increase in testosterone levels, and that this change in testosterone was associated with an increase in the desire for more casual sex partners. These increases in testosterone resulting from a powerful status are one biological explanation for why men like Petraeus engage in infidelity.
Obviously, many variables affect the decision to have or not have sexual intercourse (e.g., Are you in the “mood?” Did you have a romantic dinner? Did he remember the flowers?). Although most people probably don’t think the outcome of a political election is especially romantic, or has much effect on their libidos, recent research suggests that political elections could influence your sex life!
I have two kids. One is 3½ and generally sleeps through the night. The other is 14 months old and either fancies himself as living on a farm or simply likes to jack with his parents by waking up most mornings between 4 and 5 a.m. He may or may not go back to sleep after a trip to the milk bar, typically depending on how late we went to sleep the evening prior (it’s uncanny). Most nights, I admittedly sleep through the first of his wake-ups, and, in fact, often have no conscious recollection of ever hearing him squawk for us from the adjacent room. But, when my wife is out of town or taking in a way-too-early spin class, I find myself jumping out of bed with the urgency of a testosterone-fueled (albeit very tired) man-protector, ready to address whatever it is that has awoken young Mowgli.
In a recent article, I discussed how birth control pills alter the type of men that women find attractive, not to mention the quality of women’s sex lives. However, the sexual side effects of oral contraceptives don’t stop there. In fact, being on the pill even seems to impact the amount of money women can earn from a night of exotic dancing! Yes, you read that right.
We are always on the lookout for misleading reports about relationship research. In the past we’ve featured articles that examined claims about the lingering effects of hooking-up, whether romance novels are addictive, and whether men should adopt pick-up strategies touted in The Game (just to name a few).
When we recently read reports on a study linking fatherhood to decreased testosterone (click here) we were itching to address the reports because many of them drew conclusions that severely reached beyond the actual data from the original study (click here for an example from CNN). In fact, in many cases, the reports made claims about outcomes that were never measured! However, the article "Tarzan the Diaper Man" from Slate.com not only beat us to the punch, but also did an excellent job refuting the inaccurate and overreaching conclusions drawn in several of the media reports. Thanks to Slate.com for getting on board with SofR’s mission.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one…two guys walk into a psychology experiment. After getting their picture taken and giving a saliva sample, both guys are given the chance to have a videotaped chat with a highly attractive female. Researchers set up this clever situation in order to examine whether the guys testosterone, or "T levels," influenced their behaviors in the face of competition over a desirable female.
Perhaps when Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses wrote “Don’t Cry,” he was really protecting his libido. First, researchers collected tears of women who watched sad movies. Later, males who smelled the tears had decreased testosterone and found pictures of females less appealing. fMRI scans of males’ brain activity after smelling tears revealed that males' brains had less activity in regions associated with sexual arousal, which suggests that odorless tears contain a chemical signal that men unconsciously detect.
Gelstein, S., Yeshurun, Y., Rozenkrantz, L., Shushan, S., Frumin, I., Roth, Y., & Sobel, N. (2011). Humans tears contain a chemosignal. Science, 331 (6014), 226-230. doi: 10.1126/science.1198331