As it turns out, even before a man decides to be a father, there are some biological baby-related things inside of him at play.
Researchers from Wayne State University’s Department of Psychology and the University of Chicago’s Institute for Mind and Biology found that young men who had an interest in babies tended to have lower increase in testosterone when shown sexually explicit material.
How’d you like to be the dude on one of these panels? You’re in a room being told that it’s a study about babies and they hand you a baby and you think “awww he’s cute” and then all of the sudden they yank the baby out of your hands and put on a porn movie. Super confusing, bro. But that’s science.
Actually, it went a little more like this: the researchers recruited 100 heterosexual young men who were not already fathers. The men were given a 12-question survey that gauged their interest in and reaction to babies, as well as a 20-question life choice survey. Questions on the life choice survey were things like “I have to be closely attached to someone before I am comfortable having sex with them” and “I often get emotional support and practical help from my blood relatives.”
The young dudes gave a saliva sample, then shown a 12-minute video that included sexual content. Another saliva sample was taken (which was probably a huge boner-killer), and then another sample 10 minutes later.
Dudes who showed more of an interest in babies had less of a buildup of testosterone in their saliva after viewing the explicit video. Coincidentally, they also answered those life survey questions with more emphasis on long-term relationships and family-building.
More interestingly, there was no relationship found between baseline testosterone levels and interest in babies.
Does this information help women choose mates? Does it help women identify a “family man” in a group? I’m not sure, I’m not a scientist. I just wanted to have an excuse to use the phrase “boner-killer” today, and here I am.
If you’re looking to read the whole study (the sexually explicit video shown to study members is not included in the study, sorry), you can do so in your hot-off-the-presses copy of the Psychological Sciences journal. Also a boner-killer.