An AP book review for “Blondes!”

Posted in book reviews, media by jenapincott on October 31, 2008

An Associated Press writer, Dinesh Ramde, wrote a review for Do Gentlemen Really Prefer Blondes? titled “Author reviews odd research into the science of love.” He clearly finds the book quirky compared to others on sex and love, but says many kind things: that it’s well-researched, that I’ve simplified the science for a broader audience, and that even though the book is targeted at women, there’s plenty of content for both genders. Best of all, he says the book is likely to prompt conversations that start with “Hey, have you ever wondered why people…’, labels it “a cross between Cosmopolitan and Scientific American,” and an “insightful and amusing read.”

Poor little down-and-out T

Posted in news by jenapincott on October 30, 2008

I devote a chunk of BLONDES to the Environmental Security Hypothesis (ESH), which says that in tough times men prefer women who are slightly older, heavier, taller, more mature-looking, and less curvaceous.  In good times, men go back to their default:  younger, shorter, lighter, curvier, big-eyed, feminine-looking damsels.  It’s as if men unconsciously seek what is practical when the going gets tough — strong and robust women.   (FYI – women’s preferences in men don’t fluctuate under adverse conditions.) The ESH has been supported in a variety of studies, including one with  ravenous college students, another with men in a “crisis” mind-set, and a famous one that tracks the dimensions of Playboy Playmates of the Year over several decades of economic ups and downs.

What exactly drives men into “Environmental Security” mode?  Low blood sugar levels are one possibility, as noted in the study of hungry men.  Low testosterone (T) levels are another, and men’s T levels fluctuate all the time. They’re known to surge when men win a game or have a confrontation and dip when they’re feeling down. A new study led by Lisa Welling at the Face Research Lab found that when men’s T levels are high, they report stronger attraction to femininity in women’s faces.  When levels are relatively low, men report a weaker preference for femininity.  Put another way:  High testosterone loves high estrogen.  Low testosterone might not mind lower estrogen.

The results inspire some prurient speculation.  Do guys who are generally low in T have a preference for “more masculine” women? In the current economic environment, are testosterone-deficient Wall Street traders trading in their trophy wives for sugar mamas? Are curvy, girly strippers making less than their heavier, hipless dominatrix colleagues?

Red-hot hormones

Posted in media, news by jenapincott on October 25, 2008

Kathleen Parker’s column about the McCain-Palin dynamic in the Washington Post today drew on research that shows that men discount the future when presented with images of pretty women. As discussed in my book, studies have found that high-testosterone men will opt for short-term rewards over long-term gains (i.e. a smaller amount of money now versus a larger sum in the future) when in the “mating mindset.” The theory goes that activity in the amygdala — the part of the brain associated with emotions, impulses, and sex drive — and the hypothalamus, which triggers the release of sex hormones, essentially overwhelm the rational parts of the brain.
How else to explain John McCain’s pick of Sarah Palin as his running mate? It’s the male mating mindset: short-term rewards over long-term gains.

Sarah Palin was surprisingly lovely and lively the day of her debate with Joe Biden — as observed by the snarky site, Gawker. “Where is Palin in her cycle right now?” asked the blogger, noting that the governor’s sex appeal seemed particularly strong that night, and that men were more impressed with her than were women. Multiple studies have found that women have more sex appeal when ovulating than at any other time during the month. In particular, johns in strip clubs have been found to give strippers higher tips when fertile than at any other time of their cycles.

Looking at the calendar, if Palin’s fertility window was open Oct 8, the night of the debate, it’ll likely be so again on Nov 4, Election Day.

“Blondes” on CBS Early Show — Medical Mysteries!

Posted in media, news by jenapincott on October 24, 2008

I was stricken with an awful cold-flu when CBS shot this segment, so I cringe at my pallor and rumpled hair, but here I am, with Peter and Do Gentlemen Really Prefer Blondes?, starring in “Medical Mysteries!”  I also had the pleasure of meeting anthropologist Helen Fisher during the live segment, whose work on brain imaging and the effect of antidepressants on lovers I describe in the book.

POLL (women only): Are you sexier mid-cycle?

Posted in news, Polls and Surveys by jenapincott on October 13, 2008

One radio host said “ewwww” when I mentioned on her show that a woman’s menstrual cycle has a significant (yet largely subconscious) impact on her appearance and taste in men, but I’m going to press on because I think it’s fascinating. And how lovely it is that findings that I discuss in BLONDES have been supported by a spate of recent, related studies:

1. German researchers added to the pile of evidence that suggests that women dress more provocatively and look prettier around ovulation. When male judges were shown pictures that women took of themselves every day of the month, the guys gave women in the fertile phase of their menstrual cycles the highest attractiveness ratings. The women also considered themselves more attractive at this time of the month.
2. Meanwhile, at the University of Albany, researchers recorded women’s voices at four different times during their respective cycles and played the recordings to male and female judges. Results show that a woman’s voice is significantly higher-pitched and considered more attractive mid-cycle, when she’s most likely to conceive.
3. Women taking oral contraceptives have weaker preferences for masculine faces and voices than do women who aren’t on the Pill, according to a study at McMaster University. The Pill simulates the hormonal profile of pregnancy, and women tend to prefer more nurturing and familiar-looking faces at this time.

Did Darwin prefer brunettes?

Posted in news by jenapincott on October 8, 2008

The question of whether men prefer blondes or brunettes seems trivial — and even I ask it in a light-hearted manner in the book — but one person apparently took it seriously: Charles Darwin. It has been brought to my attention that Darwin once studied how hair color affects a woman’s ability to find a marriage partner. In Darwin’s view, the population of Victorian England was becoming increasingly dark-haired because brunettes were more likely to settle down and have children, while blondes were more often unattached and childless. Despite an earnest investigation, the matter remained unresolved. According to an article in The Telegraph, the great naturalist eventually concluded that the trend toward brunette wives was due to the “darkening of hair with age.” In an era before L’Oreal, a man might date a young blonde and marry a brunette — and never have courted more than one gal.

“Blondes” on Fox and in the Daily News!

Posted in book reviews, media, news by jenapincott on October 4, 2008


Is there anything I wouldn’t do for this book? I can’t bear to watch myself on TV — nor would I wish for any friends to see this — but, for the sake of getting word out, I dare link to this segment on Fox 5.

And there’s the cute review from the Daily News. Just a little hyperbole about thick waists in hard economic times, but I love the enthusiasm.

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