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Male intelligence drops just thinking about women

(Thinkstock)

This might explain those dumb pick-up lines.

A new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior suggests that heterosexual men "start faltering and exhibit a decline in mental performance as soon as they anticipate interacting with women".

Yes, just anticipating talking to us makes men dumber.

Women, however, have no mental-performance issues when thinking about men.

How do researchers measure this?

They used what's known as a Stroop test, a popular neuropsychological test that measures cognitive flexibility and processing speed along with selective attention.

"The test involves showing people a series of words describing different colours that are printed in different coloured inks. For example, the word 'blue' might be printed in green ink and the word 'red' printed in blue ink. Participants are asked to name, as quickly as they can, the colour of the ink that the words are written in," the Scientific American reports.

They carried out the tests before and after a simple lip-reading exercise.

The exercise:

Participants each engaged in a lip-reading exercise via webcam. Each participant was asked to read aloud specific words to an unseen observer trying to lip-read over the webcam.

The observer was given either a common male or female name. Participants were told that this person would see them over the webcam, but that there would be no interaction with the person. No other information about the observer was given.

[See also: The one colour that attracts a man's attention]

Females' Stroop-test scores were consistent before and after the lip-reading exercise. Men, however, faltered in the Stroop test if they thought they had been watched by a woman in the earlier exercise.

In another study, the participants were merely told the same lip-reading exercise would follow the Stroop test.

"The secret was that the lip-reading test never arrived. Regardless, male test scores plummeted at the mere anticipation of being observed by a female. Again, women displayed no such effects," Gizmodo reports.

"Two studies demonstrated that men's (but not women's) cognitive performance declined if they were led to believe that they interacted with a woman via a computer (Study 1) or even if they merely anticipated an interaction with a woman (Study 2). Together, these results suggest that an actual interaction is not a necessary prerequisite for the cognitive impairment effect to occur. Moreover, these effects occur even if men do not get information about the woman's attractiveness," the study summarized.

Without making a "boys are dumb" conclusion, how are researchers explaining the results?

One explanation looks at social expectations. If society places greater pressure on men to impress women in social situations, the stress of having to make the right impression might be taxing to the brain.

Researchers also speculate that men are "more strongly attuned to potential mating opportunities."

So perhaps the perceived "dumbness" is really because these men have too much on the brain when it comes to us ladies?

What do you think, girls? What's your experience with "cognitive decline" and the opposite sex?

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