United States researchers have revealed that sex can inspire and increase belief in God, and gives men a greater sense of purpose.
There wasn’t any actual sex in the study carried out by Dr Patty Van Cappellen, Associate Director of the Interdisciplinary and Behavioural Research Center at Duke University.
Instead, a group of middle aged men were given either a placebo or a dose of oxytocin, the cuddle drug released during sex, breastfeeding and childbirth.
The study, published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, found that oxytocin promoted spiritual feelings and a sense that life had meaning.
Of course men don’t ordinarily breastfeed or give birth so they’re left with sex as a path to the divine. This is both comforting and dispiriting news.
On the one hand, it’s somewhat validating that male behaviour just might be next to Godliness. On the other hand, the Duke study is just one more notch in science’s belt as it proceeds to prove that men are inherently creepy.
‘A Woman’s Walk: Attractiveness in Motion’, published in 2009 by the Journal of Social, Evolutionary and Cultural Sociology, looked at the exact moment in a woman’s sway and wiggle that most excited volunteers.
A University of Texas study from 2012, ‘Sexual exploitability: observable cues and their link to sexual attraction’, found that men were drawn to women who were dumb, drunk or half asleep.
Conducted by female researchers, it was loudly contested by media commentators. Earlier this year, a US study published in Evolution & Human Behavior found that men are more likely to remember a woman’s name, age, occupation, hobbies, biographical history, and whatever else she was talking about … if she has a curvy body.
Or to put it more scientifically: if she has a waist to hip ratio of 0.7 – the tighter waist and broader hips of a Marilyn Monroe or Kate Moss. The waist to hip ratio is calculated by dividing the circumference of your waist at the narrowest point, with that of your hips at the widest point.
The psychology researchers recruited male volunteers to study pictures of a woman whose waist-to-hip ratio was digitally manipulated to increase and lower it.
In some pictures she was straight-sided as a plank; in others, curvy as a cartoon songstress. The volunteers were also given biographical information about the woman. The study found that the more the woman’s figure deviated from the magic 0.7 ratio, the less they remembered about who she was as a person.
Lead author Professor Carey J. Fitzgerald of the Department of Social Sciences, University of South Carolina, noted that men can‘t help themselves, being slaves to evolutionary pressures.
“It has been theorized that human memory evolved to serve our survival and reproductive goals. Attractive target cues, in particular, may trigger superior episodic processing in perceivers because they can signal the quality of the target’s genes or reproductive potential. Indeed, an attractive female face and waist to hip ratio appear to stimulate brain regions in males linked to the processing of rewarding stimuli.”
Even so, men come off looking creepy – which fits with another study, from Knox College, Illinois, titled simply ‘On the nature of creepiness’, based on survey of more than 1300 people.
Being older, working as a clown, standing too close, having greasy hair, bringing a sense of ambiguity (once known as mystery), unpredictability and being touchy-feely all pushed the creepy button.
But the number one factor was being a man. That was the starting point. God forgive us.