Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Your Daily Evo-Psycho Nutritional Supplement

Is this story, criticized on both Pandagon and

Sexy calendars and pictures of topless models in tabloid newspapers really do lead men to think of women as objects, research shows.

When men are shown images of women in bikinis, the part of the brain they use when thinking about DIY tools and other objects lights up.

At the same time, the region they use to try to tune into another person's thoughts and feelings tunes down, brain scans showed.


Professor Fiske, of Princeton University in the U.S., said the effect could spill over into the workplace, with girlie calendars leading men to sexualise their colleagues.

She said: 'I am not saying there should be censorship but people need to know of the associations people have in their minds.'

Asked if women were likely to view half-dressed men in the same way, she said that women tended to rate age and bank balance over looks.

It's that last sentence that I have extreme trouble with, because I want to see the reference to the study which showed that when women look at men's bank balances their tool-associated brain areas light up and that they don't light up when they are shown pictures of semi-naked hulks. I want to know whether that throw-away comment was based on a) evolutionary psychology JustSo stories, b) studies which used brain imaging or c) some other studies. Then I want to know which those studies are so that I can look at them. I've learned such horrid facts about many of those studies that I now always want to see the original study and the homework that went into it. Remember that previous piece I wrote about the study on something very like this which coded binary variables as one and two?!!!!

I'd also love to learn what 'age' refers to in that comment. Presumably it means that women want older men, always older, older and older! The older the better! And it doesn't matter at all whether those older men happen to have money and such?

And of course the actual world we live in matters here, the world in which women have less money than men and the world in which women have less power to choose their mates just on the basis of their physical attractiveness. The world in which culture dictates gender-appropriate behavior.

Mostly I agree with Amanda when she writes that the evo-psycho myths are already deeply ingrained in the popular culture, even though the myths themselves contradict each other and are without actual evidence (given that such evidence cannot be obtained) or even any wider frameworks (which would discuss the questions of how those early humans lived, in what size groups, how they 'married' or not, whether they understood the concept of fatherhood, whether birth families supported each other economically or not, whether women actually could select their sexual partners and so on). It's a lot more fun to view men as general inseminators and women as general gold-diggers.