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Of males, females -- and, in a way, the scientists fascinated by them

March 19, 2010 |  4:16 pm

Balloon Male skateboarders are more willing to risk falls when being watched by an attractive woman. Crude sexism doesn't do much for men's general reputations. And female pipefish wanting to spread their genes successfully better hope that the male pipefish look back on their time together with a certain fondness or pride or whatever it is pipefish feel.

- First up, the skateboarders. Australian researchers approached 96 young men at skateboarding parks and asked them to perform an easy trick and a difficult trick in front of either a male researcher (run-of-the-mill, we assume) or a female researcher bordering on babe-dom. They were also asked to give saliva samples and have their pulses checked.

Just as researchers expected: The skateboarders performing for the female researcher were more likely to take greater risks than those performing for their male researcher -- and they had higher testosterone levels during the experiment too.

The researchers write in their conclusion:  "The current experiment provides evidence for an effect that has existed in art, mythology, and literature for thousands of years: Beautiful women lead men to throw caution to the wind."

Here's the abstract, published in Social Psychological and Personality Science; the university's news release; and, for a limited time, the full article.

- Next, crude sexism. Researchers at the University of Connecticut asked women to imagine themselves as bystanders to a grotesquely crass remark and then reflect upon their feelings about it. The women, they said, identified with their gender group and were inclined to direct the resulting anger toward men in general.

Here's the abstract, the news release, the free preview and if you're interested in what's described as "an interdisciplinary behavioral science journal offering a feminist perspective," the home page of the journal in which the research was published, Sex Roles.

- Now to the pipefish. Researchers at Texas A&M University have found that male pipefish are more likely to have a decent relationship (and we're using the term loosely) with the offspring to which they give birth when they held the mom in higher regard.

Not Exactly Rocket Science over at ScienceBlogs puts it this way

"They'll kill off some of the youngsters in their pouches if they've mated with an unattractive female, or if they've already raised a large group of young in an earlier pregnancy. The pouch isn't just an incubator for the next generation. It's a battleground where male and female pipefish fight a war of the sexes, and where foetal pipefish pay for this conflict with their lives."

So, no, this last item isn't about human males and females, but it is about males and females and -- admit it -- by far the more interesting of the three.

Here's the news release from Science Daily, plus a video from Nature, where the research was published.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo: Love? Please. That has nothing to do with it.

Credit: AFP / Getty Images