From generation to generation, many changes take place but there is one thing that remains the same - young men engaging in risky behavior to impress young women.
From generation to generation, many changes take place, but there is one thing that remains the same: young men engaging in risky behavior to impress young women.
In a recent study, researchers wanted to determine the "mechanisms present that facilitated greater risk-taking by men in the presence of attractive women."
The researchers recruited young adult men who were skateboarders and asked them to perform both easy and difficult maneuvers in front of a group of men, and then in front of young, attractive women.
After each maneuver, difficult or easy, their testosterone levels were determined.
As one would predict, the skateboarders took greater chances when they performed in front of attractive women than when performing in front of men.
Their testosterone levels were significantly higher when performing the more difficult maneuvers in front of women compared to the less difficult maneuvers in front of men.
The question can be asked: Is it the increased testosterone levels that make men behave in such a risky fashion? And, if so, could it be that such increased testosterone levels are also responsible for other risky decisions made by men, such as driving dangerously or getting into fights?
Although testosterone may play a role, other factors may also explain such risky male behavior.
One factor would be maturity. We can all recall doing something foolish when we were younger and immature that we wouldn't consider doing, no matter how high our testosterone levels were, as we grew older.
A person's emotional status also influences one's behavior.
So, there are many other factors, besides testosterone, that have an impact on a young man making risky decisions.
But as a result of this study, will elevated testosterone levels be used as a medical reason to defend a young man's foolish actions? Will he claim that it really wasn't his fault, that it was because he had a hormonal imbalance, a high testosterone level?
Does this now mean that when a young man is stopped for speeding, along with blood alcohol levels, should a testosterone level also be obtained?
Perhaps we were better off when we attributed a man's risky behavior in front of girl, not to testosterone, but to just "showing off."
Massachusetts-based Dr. Murray Feingold is the physician in chief of the National Birth Defects Center, medical editor of WBZ-TV and WBZ radio, and president of the Genesis Fund. The Genesis Fund is a nonprofit organization that funds the care of children born with birth defects, mental retardation and genetic diseases.