CogniFit's Science blog: Interacting With Women Can Impair Men’s Cognitive Functioning

Interacting With Women Can Impair Men’s Cognitive Functioning

An interesting study that was published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology has given evidence that men’s cognitive abilities are actually impaired when they interact with females.

Furthermore, the more attractive they feel the female is, the more impairment there is.

Researchers at Radboud University in the Netherlands, conducted two studies that showed that when engaged in mixed-sex interactions the males displayed high levels of self-presentation, which were shown to deplete the male subjects’ cognitive resources, as measured in poorer performances on cognitive assessments after such interactions. (These interactions all took place in a laboratory setting and were simply discussions between students and lab techs).

Interactions with the same sex did not result in deficits and interestingly, women were much less affected by mixed-sex interactions. Men seemed to view mixed-sex interactions as more of a mating game than women and the men’s current partner status did not affect results either. Whether they were currently romantically involved or not, they still looked upon a mixed-sex interaction, even though it took place in the lab, as a mating game.

The authors hypothesized that women might have been more affected had the setting been different, perhaps in a bar rather than in the lab. They also wondered if sexual harassment is due to the decline in cognitive function caused by the interaction.

They also proposed that a further study should examine if homosexuals’ reactions to same-sex interactions would be as cognitively demanding as mixed-sex interactions are for heterosexuals.