One never knows where research might lead, and I’m not going to disparage work that attempts to quantify what seems to be a trivial and obvious conclusion. I do find it weird that such work can justify three (3) published papers, though, even if the three do have clearly different goals. Welcome to the world of women’s erect nipples.
Given the research that suggests men attend to nipples and that nipple erection is triggered by sexual excitement (among other triggers), we questioned whether men see nipple erection as a sign of sexual interest. Our findings indicate that men (but not women) see women as sexier when they have nipple erection and also see themselves as sexier, supporting the idea that nipple erection is perceived signaling arousal or sexual interest.
This study shows that men are more likely to do things for sexualized women, in this case, women with nipple erection. Women, however, would prefer to avoid women with nipple erection socially. This can have implications for sex and dating strategies, and female interaction in social settings.
Nipple erection is a cue that triggers sexualization and objectification of women; women with nipple erection are thought of as less intelligent, less moral, and more promiscuous by both men and women. Women cannot control their nipple erection, yet these data show that it is used by men and women to make presumptions about women’s character and behavior.
I don’t usually notice such things because, you know, clothing, and it seems to me that clothing choice might be a stronger signal for all the things measured than involuntary smooth muscle contractions. Also, here in Minnesota, it might be more a product of being cold.
Then I read the methods. All three papers were based on a variant of this detail from the first paper.
Eighty-five men (average age 22.6 years,SD 7.33) and 355 women (average age 20.7years,SD 3.79) were surveyed. Participants were primarily White (83.4%) from a regional public university in the northeastern United States.
I recognize the pattern. Psych 101! You recruit the students from an introductory psychology course, give them a survey-based procedure, and then stat the hell out of the numbers you get. It’s the laziest kind of psych study. You’re quizzing young men and women about erect nipples in this case, and probably had no shortage of volunteers.
Then you publish it in a journal titled “Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences”, even though it has no evolutionary implications at all, and maybe, at best, measures socialized, conventional behavior in a single population of horny college-aged students with a mundane protocol designed more for the convenience of the investigators rather than probing deeply into the basis of the behavior. Come on, psychologists, do better. At least sample multiple diverse populations before making conclusions about human behavior.
It is rather depressing that one result is that showing signs of arousal is interpreted to mean a person is less intelligent and more promiscuous. Human beings, do better.