Peter H Brown Clinical Psychologist

Psychology News & Resources

An Attractive Lady Makes The Boys Go Gaga:Testosterone And Risk Taking Behavior

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From UNIS : University of Queensland research suggests that the presence of a beautiful woman can lead men to throw caution to the wind. Professor Bill von Hippel and doctoral student Richard Ronay, from UQ’s School of Psychology, have been examining the links between physical risk-taking in young men and the presence of attractive women.

To examine this issue, they conducted a field experiment with young male skateboarders and found the skateboarders took more risks at the skate park when they were observed by an attractive female experimenter than when they were observed by a male experimenter.

This increased risk-taking led to more successes but also more crash landings in front of the female observer.

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Professor von Hippel and Mr Ronay also measured testosterone from participants’ saliva, and found that the skateboarders’ increased risk taking was caused by elevated testosterone levels brought about by the presence of the attractive female.

According to the researchers these findings suggest an evolutionary basis for male risk-taking.

“Historically, men have competed with each other for access to fertile women and the winners of those competitions are the ones who pass on their genes to future generations. Risk-taking would have been inherent in such a competitive mating strategy,” said Professor von Hippel.

“Our results suggest that displays of physical risk-taking might best be understood as hormonally fuelled advertisements of health and vigour aimed at potential mates, and signals of strength, fitness, and daring intended to intimidate potential rivals.”

The researchers point out that although evolution may have favoured males who engage in risky behaviour to attract females, such behaviours can also be detrimental in terms of survival.

“Other instances of physical risk-taking that contribute to men’s early mortality, such as dangerous driving and physical aggression, might also be influenced by increases in testosterone brought about by the presence of attractive women.”

Read The Original Research Paper HERE (Free PDF-internal link)

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March 27, 2010 Posted by | Adolescence, Cognition, Identity, Intimate Relationshps, Sex & Sexuality, Social Psychology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Social Anxiety: Another Side To The Struggle

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From ScienceDaily (Mar. 19, 2010) — When you think of people suffering from social anxiety, you probably characterize them as shy, inhibitive and submissive. However, new research from psychologists Todd Kashdan and Patrick McKnight at George Mason University suggests that there is a subset of socially anxious people who act out in aggressive, risky ways — and that their behavior patterns are often misunderstood.

In the new study published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, Kashdan and McKnight found evidence that a subset of adults diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder were prone to behaviors such as violence, substance abuse, unprotected sex and other risk-prone actions. These actions caused positive experiences in the short-term, yet detracted from their quality of life in the longer-term.

“We often miss the underlying problems of people around us. Parents and teachers might think their kid is a bully, acts out and is a behavior problem because they have a conduct disorder or antisocial tendencies,” says Kashdan. “However, sometimes when we dive into the motive for their actions, we will find that they show extreme social anxiety and extreme fears of being judged. If social anxiety was the reason for their behavior, this would suggest an entirely different intervention.”

Kashdan and McKnight suggest that looking at the underlying cause of extreme behavior can help us understand the way people interact within society.

“In the adult world, the same can be said for managers, co-workers, romantic partners and friends. It is easy to misunderstand why people are behaving the way we do and far too often we assume that the aggressive, impulsive behaviors are the problem. What we are finding is that for a large minority of people, social anxiety underlies the problem,” says Kashdan.

The researchers suggest that further studies of this subset group can help psychologists better understand and treat the behaviors. “Recent laboratory experiments suggest that people can be trained to enhance their self-control capacities and thus better inhibit impulsive urges and regulate emotions and attention,” says McKnight. “Essentially, training people to be more self-disciplined — whether in physical workout routines or finances or eating habits — improves willpower when their self-control is tested.”

Credit: George Mason University

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March 20, 2010 Posted by | anxiety, Bullying, therapy | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments