A man may say he wants to settle down and have a family, when that's actually the last thing he wants to do. People can lie to both themselves and to others; however, our bodies can't lie and that's what makes a mind-body connection so powerful.
And science has found a new way to predict if a man is really ready to be a father, but it's not from talking to them; it's how they react physiologically to porn.
According to a new study published in Psychological Science, young men who reported more interest in babies showed a lower increase in response to sexually explicit material than men who weren't as interested in babies.
"Our findings show there is a strong mind-body connection: Liking or not liking babies is related to how a man's body — specifically, his testosterone — responds to sexual stimuli," explained Dario Maestripieri, lead researcher. "These results suggest that even before young men make actual decisions about marriage and children, one can distinguish between individuals who are more fatherhood-oriented and those who are less fatherhood-oriented."
The evolutionary theory is that there's a trade-off between a man's ability to invest his energy in mating and his ability to invest in parenting. The researchers speculated that testosterone, the primary sex hormone in males, may be a physiological mechanism supporting this tradeoff.
If this is true, men with a strong motivation to produce offspring have a slow life-history strategy, and would demonstrate less of a testosterone reaction to recreational sex than men who are more interested in engaging in many sexual encounters or a fast life-history strategy.
The study included 100 young, heterosexual men (most university students). None of the participants had any children. First, the men completed a questionnaire that measured their interest in babies and how they would respond to babies in different situations.
Next, they were asked to complete a 20-item survey with statements like, "I have to be closely attached to someone before I'm comfortable having sex with them," and, "I often get emotional support and practical help from my blood relatives," to which they rated the level of their agreement.
After answering the questions, the participants provided a saliva sample (which would be used as the control) and were left alone in a room to watch a 12-minute sexually explicit film. A saliva sample was taken when the film was over, and then again 10 minutes later.
The results indicated that men who were more interested in babies tended to show relatively smaller increases in testosterone in response to the erotic film.
The researchers pointed out that this association wasn't influenced by the subject's relationship status. There also wasn't any evidence of a connection between the control testosterone levels and interest in babies, indicating that the end results weren't related to testosterone function generally, but were specific to the reaction to sexual stimuli.
"Young men who don't like babies as much get more physiologically aroused by visual sexual stimuli; this makes sense from a life-history perspective," said Maestripieri.
"These men 'live on the fast lane.' They are attracted to and aroused by novel sexual partners and are ready to take advantage of new sexual opportunities when they present themselves. By contrast, young men who like babies more are less sexually aroused by novel sexual stimuli, but they presumably enjoy sex more in the context of stable monogamous relationships."
In the end, when it comes to sexuality, having children, and parenthood, the body has its own way of making its desires known.