Sunday, January 16, 2011

Female tears and male sexual arousal

Researchers have found that men who sniffed drops of women’s emotional tears became less sexually aroused than when they sniffed a neutral saline solution that had been dribbled down women’s cheeks. The findings showed up in a variety of ways, including testosterone levels, skin responses, brain imaging and the men’s descriptions of their arousal. In one experiment, tear-sniffing made the men more likely to rate women in photographs as less sexually attractive. In another, to establish a context of sadness, men watched a scene from the movie “The Champ” after sniffing tears or saline. Sniffers became equally sad with both tears and saline, but tear-sniffers showed reduced sexual arousal and lower levels of testosterone. Finally, the researchers turned to brain imaging. They showed men scenes from “9 ½ Weeks” — specifically the more explicit version that was shown in Europe, which has been validated as being particularly arousing. Functional M.R.I. scans identified the men’s arousal in specific brain areas. Then they sniffed tears or saline and watched sad movies. The tear-sniffers showed less activity in the brain regions that reflected arousal.

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