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Researchers pore over spit for clues to sexuality

University Of Chicago : 17 November, 2003  (Technical Article)
It's not exactly proof that men drool over women, but a University of Chicago study has found guys' saliva does go high-octane when their motors get running.
For 10 bucks apiece, a group of U. of C. students agreed to participate in what they thought was a chemistry test on their spit.
Flirting test was more like it.

Upon arrival at the lab one by one, the students gave a sample of their saliva and were told that the full test was running behind schedule. In the meantime, they should wait with a research assistant.

Each student was assigned to wait with either a male or a twenty-something female.

The assistants, in on the ruse, were assigned to make small talk with the men for five minutes.

After the chat, scientists then re-checked the saliva of the guys. Those who got to chat with the female had a 30 percent spike in their testosterone, a hormone that influences male sexual behavior.

And, comparing notes made by the females, the more she thought the man was attracted to her, exhibiting 'courtship-like behavior'' such as showing off or talking about himself in a revealing way, the higher the level of testosterone detected in his mouth.

The women were reasonably attractive. The men, 39 heterosexuals in all, gave the women, on average, a 5 out of 7. At least one of the men was charged up enough that he was thinking of asking the woman for a date, said James Roney, a U. of C. post-doctoral student who supervised the study as part of the university's Institute for Mind and Biology.

One of the female research assistants, Elizabeth Hirsch, 22, said she was instructed to dress 'nicely, not sexy, but attractive.'' Hirsch called the subjects 'the stereotypical female-deprived U. of C. male,'' describing some as 'dorks.''

'I could tell when they were getting interested, a lot of eye contact and asking questions about me,'' said Hirsch, a recent graduate.

She said the female assistants were 'kind of like a catalyst to boost their hormone level.''

Roney said the experiment, published in the professional journal Evolution and Human Behavior, is part of a larger effort to understand male sexuality.

'The ultimate goal is to pinpoint what part of the brain might regulate courtship,'' he said.
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