Scientific Fact: Women Distract Men

This article from the BBC is hilarious! Any guesses as to whether my ring finger is longer than my index finger? 🙂

The more testosterone he has, the stronger the effect, according to work by Belgian researchers.

Men about to play a financial game were shown images of sexy women or lingerie.

The Proceedings of the Royal Society B study found they were more likely to accept unfair offers than men not been exposed to the alluring images.

The suggestion is that the sexual cues distract the men’s thoughts, preventing them from focusing on their task – particularly among those with high natural testosterone levels.

The University of Leuven researchers gave 176 heterosexual male student volunteers aged 18 to 28 financial games to test their fair play.

But first, half of the men were shown sexual cues of some kind.

One group of 44 men were given pictures to rate; some were shown landscapes while the rest were shown attractive women.

Another group, of 37 men, were either asked to assess the quality, texture and colour of a bra or a t-shirt.

And a third group of 95 were shown either pictures of elderly women or young models.

Each group was then paired up to play a game where the men had $10, a proposer had to suggest a split, and the other man accepted or rejected the offer.

If the second man accepted the offer, the money was distributed in agreement with the offer. If he rejected it, neither partner got anything.

The game is designed as a lab model of hunting or food sharing situations.


The men’s performance in the tests showed those who had been exposed to the “sexual cues” were more likely to accept an unfair offer than those who were not.

The men’s testosterone levels were also tested – by comparing the length of the men’s index finger compared to their ring finger.

If the ring finger is longest, it indicates a high testosterone level.

The researchers found that men in the study who had the highest levels performed worst in the test, and suggest that is because they are particularly sensitive to sexual images.

Dr Siegfried DeWitte, one of the researchers who worked on the study, said: “We like to think we are all rational beings, but our research suggests … that people with high testosterone levels are very vulnerable to sexual cues.

“If there are no cues around, they behave normally.

“But if they see sexual images they become impulsive.”

He added: “It’s a tendency, but these people are not powerless to fight it.

“Hormone levels are one thing, but we can learn to deal with it.”

The researchers are conducting similar tests with women. But so far, they have failed to find a visual stimulus which will affect their behaviour.”

Dr George Fieldman, principal lecturer in psychology at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College, told the BBC News website: “The fact men are distracted by sexual cues fits in to evolutionary experience. It’s what they are expected to do.

“They are looking for opportunities to pass on their genes.”

He said the study confirmed what had been suspected by many.

“If a man is being asked to choose between something being presented by an attractive woman and an ugly men, they might not be as dispassionate as they could be.”

Come back Bangalore

The recent death of Kannada film actor Rajkumar in Bangalore unleashed the worst of Bangalore. A veteran of over 200 Kannada language films, Rajkumar was the Bacchan of Bangalore. His fans adored him. They wanted to show their love for him and pay their last respects to someone who was a living legend to them. All this is well and good. But the behavior portrayed by the citizens of this “global” city was nothing short of pathetic and shameful. Police had to resort to lathi-charges, tear-gas and even opening fire to control the crowd. Their grudge? That they didn’t get the see enough of the dead body of Rajkumar. They pelted glass buildings with stones, over turned public and police vehicles and even set a few ablaze. The city was in standstill for three days.

Rajkumar, for all his greatness, was instrumental in trying to ban other local langauge films in the state of Karnataka. He urged fellow Kannadigas to level of fanatical patriotism and this was displayed by their behavior after his death. This past week is a black mark in the history of Bangalore. This is a city that services the global through its massive presence in the software and service industry. I’m hoping that the multinationals figure that Bangalore is currently a bad choice for any further investments. With the money invested, Bangalore has stagnated instead of showing any further development. Of course, the government is to blame for part of this. But as this past week shows, the people of Bangalore are more at fault. They have a incorrect belief that they are invincible. This jingoism is going to lead to their downfall. And personally, the sooner it happens the better. Come back Garden City. Come back Pensioners Paradise. Come back Bangalore.

My good friend, Vasu, has written a piece about this over at his blog, Vasuvius.

Regulating Disclosure

According to a blog post on USAToday, the US Congress is debating a bill that would require call-center workers in foreign countries to disclose the country that they are from.  This will likely gouge this bill under a “right-to-know” argument.  I’ve heard many complaints about people not being able to understand foreign call-center workers and vice-versa. Mixed up airline bookings, wrong mailing addresses, incorrect credit card numbers are all part of the lore of the call made to the call center.

However, I believe that this is a problem that will work itself out.  If a company has employed a call center in India, Mexico or Philippines that leads to constant customer dissatisfaction, the company will be forced to make changes either by:

  1. Finding a different call center that will result in fewer dissatisfied customer
  2. Move the call center, or certain core parts of it, back to the US
  3. Give the customer an option to either have the call routed to a foreign country or (for a certain tradeoff), have it taken in the USA.

If a company does not care to take note of their customers complaints, they will simply move elsewhere.

E-Loans is a compnay that is actually employing this third option.  It is an interesting twist to the whole outsourcing controversy. The customers are told that if they choose to have their loans processed the through a US call center, it could take longer than if they got it done in India.

DRM, Apple & iTunes, etc.

After my previous post I was struck by something so obvious, I kicked myself for not realising it earlier. The reason iTunes is so popular is that is can run on a Windows OS. The key is the device – the iPod – it works on Windows and Mac. The simplicity of it, along with the simplicity of using iTunes to purchase music (and now video) is what made it this popular. If Apple had wedded it to the Apple hardware/OS then it is unlikely that it would have reached the immense popularity that it has now. Apple is still paying for its mistakes with the P.C. market. It was the first manufacturer out there, but because of its closed architecture and refusal to license its OS to other hardware manufacturers, it lost the market to Microsoft. Microsoft was helped in its victory over Apple in the 1980s by Intel, IBM, Dell, Compaq, HP, Toshiba, etc. Intel chips were sold to P.C manufactures who could then license the Windows OS to put on there. This is despite Apple obviously having the superior OS. This story is known to everyone, so I will not dwell on it.

Apple, with its refusal to open iTunes in France has gone down the same path as it did earlier. Its closed architecture and tightly tied system for iTunes & iPod is reminiscent of what happened with its Macintosh hardware and OS. The only question now is who will be the company to dethrone Apple once again. Microsoft seems to have the right idea with PlayForSure. But who will partner it this time? The mobile phone manufacturers (Samsung, Nokia, Sony-Ericson, Palm, and Motorola) are on the front lines. Samsung also has deep roots in manufacturing flash memory that will give it an edge in this. Sony has its Walkman phone that seems to be doing well in this area with 4 GB and 8 GB models. Mobile carriers might also play a lead in this. The recent iTunes phone (ROKR) that Apple created with Motorola was a failure of huge proportions. Creative and other media-player manufacturers will also be important in this. Microsoft will license its OS once again and win out against Apple just like what happened before. Apple will surely retaliate. There is no way Steve Jobs is going to allows this to slip out of his fingers a second time. An iTunes phone is on the cards in the next few years. The other company that I predict might play a role in this is Google.

My last post was mostly about DRM and its issues. I have a little more to say on that. I recently read a report – I forget where – that Universal is going to digitize about 100,000 songs from its collection. This is music from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s that thus far do not exist with any legitimate DRM. What this tells me is that digital music has moved from being in the realm of early adopters to a place where it is accepted by mainstream customers. Those without much technical know-how (read as: those with who are interested in music from the 50s and 60s) are now willing to use digital stores like iTunes as their primary source of music. Now with DRM limiting the portability and transferability of music, I bet it is something that these people are not willing to put up with. With digital music reaching a critical mass among customers, it is even more of a reason to rethink the way DRM is implemented.

SONY-BMG caused a furor with the way it tried to limit customer rights with its implementation of rootkits on their CDs. This rootkit tried to cloak the DRM on the CD, but it also left backdoors open for those with malicious intent. This leads to privacy and security issues. Something tied closely to this is the use of P2P networks for obtaining free music. Although there has been a massive war against this, it is unlikely to ever vanish. Like prostitution (that is outlawed in almost every state and country), there will always be someone who will want to obtain music for free and will find a way of doing it. But older/obscure music will not be available this way. And P2P networks also face security and privacy issues. But the market has shown a willingness to purchase individual tracks at the right price. What is still lacking for me is the correct environment.

Pricing is another issue – the media is adrift with reports that the record labels are putting pressure on Apply to increase the price of a single of iTunes. Apparently, they already make about 40 cents per song (far more than what they recuperate from a CD sale). But commerce on the internet is still being sorted out. iTunes is not available in India as of yet. And when it is, the pricing and the currency will be different. If the cost of a single is far lower in Asia due to market economics, what stops a person from using a proxy and purchasing a song at a lower price from a different country? What about unreleased materials? TV shows and movies are now the new digital item to download legitimately. However, an episode of Lost may have been released for audience in the US, but could still be a few months behind in another country. Cyberspace is a global economy and this issue will have to be looked at soon. 2006 and 2007 will be very interesting years for digital media. Some of the wars will be dirty; others will be watched with keen interest. Personally, I can not wait for it to be done with so I can get on with consuming music that I enjoy without any hassles.