Physical Attraction May Improve Memory

According to some new research that was conducted by Michael D. Baker Jr, H. Nicole Sloan, Alexandria D. Hall, Jennifer Leo, and Jon K. Maner, people perform better on memory test when they view an attractive member of the opposite sex. People were split into groups; in one group, people took a memory test and were briefly shown an attractive member of the opposite sex, in another group they took a memory test but were shown “average” looking members of the opposite sex. Results found that the group that was allowed to see an attractive person did better than the group that saw an average looking person. Researchers theorize that human beings, when viewing an attractive person, enter into a new “mode” of sorts that focuses on impressing the potential mate. This function may be evolutionary at its core; therefore, researchers have concluded that the attractive person may make the participant wish to display desirable mental traits in an effort to further human life (reproduce). The research team wrote in the journal titled Evolutionary Psychology, they said that “displaying a robust memory would signal a variety of reproductively beneficial characteristics,” including “general intelligence, and ability to obtain valuable resources.” Psychological researchers found that this effect is observably stronger in men than it is in women. It should be noted that these findings contrast another study that was done in which it was thought that people (men specifically) have declines in cognitive function after socializing with an attractive stranger. The studies thought to of found that making a good impression was so taxing on the mind that it rendered the participants stupefied. A researcher for the current study brought up some interesting information, he basically said that a glance is less stressful than an actual interaction with another human being, therefore, we can only compare and contrast so much between the two studies. Psychological researchers said, that from an evolutionary perspective, “memory is a foundational cognitive process that is linked to very important survival skills.” With that said, they then expressed that an impressive display of memory can apprise others to a multitude of beneficial reproductive characteristics. I think that it is very interesting that human beings can perform better on memory tasks when they have the chance to look at an attractive person. I am a little surprised at the subtlety of this evolutionary cognitive response, however, I can understand/respect it because we use our vision for a lot of our interactions with the world. It makes sense that something so important can influence our various behaviors. I believe that women may not need to have as serious of a response to an attractive stimulus due to their innate role as the nurturer. Women throughout history have not been known to compete for their mates, as per tradition, it is usually the men doing all of the defending and competing. If these findings are to be believed, I guess it would be safe to tell everybody to view highly attractive individuals every now and then when studying, in order to help improve the retention of the material.