February 7, 2011

Team Edward: Explained

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Team Edward: Explained

When confronted with reminders of their mortality, people have been shown to play up their cultural views, belittle opposing views, and reinforce their self-esteem. In studying these effects, the question of how thoughts of death affected the libido came up.

An initial study in Israel involving 40 men and 36 women found that thinking about death led the men to say that they’d be more likely to hookup with a stranger at a bar than the control group, which had thought about a visit to the dentist. This, curiously, was not the case for the women in the experiment.

However, when a study performed here in California investigated the same relationship between death and sex and went a little further by having 163 study participants first imagine a candle-lit dinner and engaging conversation before being exposed to the morbid thoughts and the possibility of hooking up, both men and women considered the sex.

A third study investigated the relationship a little further, offering 89 men and women the option to have romantic love-making or hedonistic sex after being primed with thoughts of death or thoughts of a visit to the dentist. Those exposed to thoughts of death expressed a heightened desire for loving, romantic sex than did those who thought about going to the dentist.

“There was a slight trend for participants to be put off this latter kind of sex,” writes Christian Jarrett at BPS Research Digest. “Perhaps because morbid thoughts make some people want to escape their animal nature, not be reminded of it.”

That’s how it goes for us meat bags. Sorry, Jacob. You’re not short on near-death experiences, but Edward’s refinement has the upper hand here.

Via Jason Goldman.

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