To be rich, a guy has got to gamble. And to have the urge to gamble, the guy has got to have sex in his mind!
This was the finding of a recent brain-scan study by US scientists who sought to understand what’s going on in the minds of the world’s billionaires when they make risky financial gambles.
In the study, young men who were shown erotic pictures were found to develop a stronger desire to make large financial gamble than if they were shown a picture of something scary, such a snake, or something neutral, such as a stapler.
The arousing pictures lit up the same part of the brain that lights up when financial risks are taken, according to an Associated Press report on the study last week. The research appears in the April 2008 edition of the journal “NeuroReport.”
“You have a need in an evolutionary sense for both money and women. They trigger the same brain area,” said Camelia Kuhnen, a Northwestern University finance professor who conducted the study with a Stanford University psychologist.
The study only involved 15 heterosexual young men at Stanford University. It focused on the sex and money hub, the V-shaped nucleus accumbens, which sits near the base of the brain and plays a central role in what you experience as pleasure.
When that hub was activated by the erotic images, the men were far more likely to bet high on a random chance game that would earn them either a dollar or a dime. Each man made more than 50 gambles under brain scans.
Stanford psychologist Brian Knutson, a lead author of the study, says the trigger for making risky financial decisions doesn’t always have to be sex. It could be chocolate or a winning lottery ticket, he says.
Kuhnen said the same finding could also be true for women, but he said they didn’t test women because it is more difficult to find an erotic image that would appeal to many different heterosexual women compared to heterosexual men.
Putting it in evolutionary perspective, Kevin McCabe, professor of economics, law and neuroscience at George Mason University said the link between sex and greed goes back hundreds of thousands of years to men’s evolutionary role as provider or resource gatherer to attract women.
The study conforms with recent research that indicates men shown a pornographic movie were more likely to make riskier sexual decisions. Another suggests straight men think less about their financial future after being shown pictures of pretty women.
So this is it – the solution to global poverty! Just show pictures of sexy women in offices and other places where men gather, and they would be stampeding all over to work their butts off to become rich guys, millionaires and billionaires all!
I wish it was that simple.
(Note on illustrations: Above, the basic difference between male and female brains. Below, the brain of a typical male adult — hehe)