Sex Talk Part 1: Hormones Impair Judgment
Everything revolves around sex. The biological “meaning in life” for every animal is to pass on its genes. So it makes perfect sense that human hormones drive us to complete this objective. There is a problem with this evolutionary imperative. We are no longer on the savannahs of Africa trying to survive on a daily basis, nor are we trying to have as many kids as possible hoping that one will survive. We find ourselves in the 21st century where our environments are much different than the ones in which we evolved. Unfortunately we still have to deal with the fact that our brains are pretty much the same brains that our ancestors possessed in a very different time. We are hardwired for sex.
Question: Does anyone here lose all critical thinking capability when they see a hot guy/girl? I do… And I know I am not alone.
Dan Ariely, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Behavioral Economics at MIT, published a study entitled The Heat of the Moment: The Affects of Sexual Arousal on Decision Making. In the study, Ariely takes a group of young male heterosexual college students and has them answer a series of yes or no questions concerning sexual activity, and moral judgment. Some of the questions included:
Can you imagine being attracted to a 12-year-old girl?
- Would you encourage your date to drink to increase the chance that she would have sex with you?
- Would you keep trying to have sex after your date says “no?”
Ariely then asked the college students to retake the test, this time while they were sexually aroused.
“The results showed that sexual arousal had a strong impact on all three areas of judgment and decision making, demonstrating the importance of situational forces on preferences, as well as subjects’ inability to predict these influences on their own behavior.” (Ariely’s study)
I was troubled when I read that the subjects were not aware that their decision making skills would be impaired while sexually aroused. I always thought that through critical thinking and skepticism I could make good decisions. I also thought that drugs, alcohol, strong emotions, and lack of sleep were really the only things that could impair judgment. Therefore, I figured that if I keep myself healthy and kept my emotions in check, I would be at the top of my game when it came to my judgments. As a result, I could make good decisions. It never occurred to me that my brain, which is hard wired to have sex, might pose a problem.
This study shows how important it is for teens to learn critical thinking skills. Young adults are faced with the pressures of sex all the time whether it is by their hormones, peers and/or culture. There are always consequences to one’s actions. The consequences of sexual activity can put a major dent in one’s life and maybe even shorten one’s life. The outcome of a decision to have sex can be fun and beautiful or it can endanger a person’s life. (Ewwwwww! I sound like my mother… Disregard that last sentence.)
So, my question is, if teens and adults understood that their judgment can be weakened by sexual arousal, would it make a difference in the rate of STDs and unwanted pregnancies? Methinks yes, but I want to hear what you think too.