The Heat of the Moment

This post is not about the song of the same title by Asia. It is one of the best songs of the 80s, though, so you should listen to it:

Nor is it about South Park’s Cartman, who performs a cover of the above song in order to convince the U.S. Congress to legalize stem cell research. This clip is hilarious and shows that “Heat of the Moment” is all about the hand claps.

No, this post is SEXUAL in nature. Be warned.

While reflecting on Cheap yesterday, I left out the main characters of the book. All right, there are no real characters in this non-fiction book, but the book cites so many studies by Dan Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics, that you’d think he was the protagonist. There were a number of his studies that seemed kind of interesting, but then the author mentioned one of Ariely’s studies that threw everything else into question: “The Heat of the Moment: The Effect of Sexual Arousal on Sexual Decision Making.”

The experiment was designed to see whether people (and by people, we mean men exclusively, of course) make different decisions when aroused. In other words, do guys sometimes think with their penises? That’s a question that warrants research, for sure. And how does Ariely gather his data? He solicits thirty-five male college students and pays them $10 a piece to watch them masturbate. They are to answer questions while pleasuring themselves, because there needs to be some pretense of this being a scientific study and not a pornographic exhibit.

And it gets even weirder. Students were given a laptop to type their responses with their non-dominant hand (the dominant hand being, well, otherwise preoccupied). The questions were all pretty “gotcha” in nature. They flashed pictures of a preteen girl, a 60-year-old woman, a man, a fat lady, an animal, etc. and asked the guys to indicate on a scale from 1-100 how attracted they were to the image. Since they were already arousing themselves, I think it’d be nearly impossible for them to indicate that they weren’t at least slightly aroused, so it seems like a bunch of hooey to me. If I were to have participated in this study, though I would not have responded to this ad in the first place, I would be very suspicious of the experiment – perhaps to wary to even arouse myself in the first place. Am I being filmed for the internet? Are there police waiting to apprehend me if I indicate that a preteen girl is anything more than a score of “1”? Is the real test to see if I continue masturbating after the notion of me having sex with a dog is planted in my head?

If you’d like to see the study written out in full by Ariely, click here. My favorite sentence of the whole article is: “It is important to note that all the subjects completed the sessions, and no one reported that they accidentally ejaculated during the session (subjects were instructed to press the tab key if they ejaculated, which would have ended the session).” Good to know!

There’s a lot of scientific mumbo-jumbo to legitimatize it, but I can’t get myself to believe its sincerity. The study is framed in the context of “we tend to believe that men make different decisions when sexually aroused but we’ve never proven it!” I’d guess that’s because it’s not something anyone needed proven. The results are clear, however: men who are already masturbating are more willing to penetrate people and things that they wouldn’t (at least admit to) when they are not masturbating. Gotta love academia!

The mere mention of “The Heat of the Moment” study in Cheap seemed pretty out of place, but maybe the real conclusion we can draw from the experiment is tangential: poor college students will do just about anything for ten bucks. Even masturbate while looking at pictures of senior citizens. I’m not judging… if anything I wish it were a full time job! You can’t tell, but I’m ending this post by hitting the tab key multiple times.

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