Psychologists in Canada have finally proved what women have long suspected – men really are irrational enough to risk entire kingdoms to catch sight of a beautiful face.
Biologists have long known that animals prefer immediate rewards to greater ones in the future. This process, known as “discounting the future”, is found in humans too and is fundamental to many economic models.
Resources have a value to individuals that changes through time. For example, immediately available cash is generally worth more than the same amount would be in the future. But greater amounts of money in the future would be worth waiting for under so-called ‘rational’ discounting.
But some people, such as drug addicts, show ‘irrational’ discounting. For example, preferring a small amount of heroin today rather than a greater amount in the future.
Margo Wilson and Martin Daly of McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada decided to investigate discounting behaviour and see if it varied with sexual mood.
Male students, when shown pictures of pretty women, were more likely to opt for short-term economic gain than wait for a better reward in the future.