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Antibiotic Protects Men from Attractive Women

Heterosexual men mentally melt in the presence of attractive women. As Tom Jacobs writes in Pacific Standard, even the very thought of possibly interacting with a woman is enough to "temporarily impede men's mental abilities."

Of course, women know this, and some use it to their advantage. (Companies also know this, and they use it to their advantage, too: During my years in graduate school, many of the biotech sales reps were unusually attractive women.) Men feel more trusting toward women who cause them to be sexually aroused, even if there is no good justification for it -- just like when Indiana Jones totally fell for that sexy Nazi chick in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Is there a way for men to avoid these devilish "honey traps"? (It's unknown if the "honey trap" is named after CNBC's anchor formerly known as the "Money Honey.")

Yes. They can take an antibiotic.

Minocycline is typically used to treat acne, but it can also reduce symptoms associated with mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and depression, and it can improve decision-making. This latter effect was analyzed further in a study described in Scientific Reports.

Japanese researchers recruited about 100 men to play a trust game using photographs of women. In the game, each man was given 1300 Yen (approx. $13) and asked to rate the attractiveness of each woman as well as how much money they would give them in the trust game. The men were told that the amount of money given would be tripled, and the woman could then choose how to split the money between herself and the man. Unbeknownst to the men, every woman had already chosen in advance to take all of the money, completely stiffing the man. In other words, every woman was a potential "honey trap."

Prior to the experiment, the men were given either placebo or minocycline. The men who took minocycline were immune to the seductive allure of the honey traps. (See graph.)

honeytrap.jpgAs shown, men who were taking placebo offered about 50% of their money in the trust game to women of "low attractiveness," while they gave 65% of their money to women of "high attractiveness." Men receiving a regimen of minocycline gave about 50% to both groups of women.

Let this be a lesson for all male businessmen: When engaged in negotiations with an attractive female, be sure to have a doctor's prescription handy.

Source:  Motoki Watabe, Takahiro A. Kato, Sho Tsuboi, Katsuhiko Ishikawa, Kazuhide Hashiya, Akira Monji, Hideo Utsumi & Shigenobu Kanba. "Minocycline, a microglial inhibitor, reduces 'honey trap' risk in human economic exchange." Scientific Reports 3, Article #: 1685. 18-Apr-2013. doi:10.1038/srep01685