While conducting some research for my forthcoming trade book tentatively titled The Consuming Instinct: What Juicy Burgers, Ferraris, Pornography, and Gift Giving Reveal About Human Nature (Prometheus Books, 2011), I came across a study authored by Nicolas Guéguen on the likelihood of a female hitchhiker being picked up, by either a male or female driver, as a function of her breast size. On a related note, some of you might recall my recent post on the positive correlation between waitresses' tips and their breast size.
In visiting Nicolas Guéguen's website, I could not help but notice that he possesses a talent for conducting naturalistic experiments about issues that many people have wondered about and yet few (if any) have tested. Recall my earlier post on the likelihood of a woman being approached at a bar as a function of whether she is wearing cosmetics (one of Guéguen's other papers).
Returning to the current paper, Guéguen created one of three naturalistic experimental conditions (corresponding to three breast sizes) using an average looking female confederate: (1) her actual breast size, which was an A cup (i.e., smaller than the French average); (2) a B cup (the average size in France); (3) a C cup (greater than the average). The breast "augmentations" were performed via the addition of a latex implant.
The female confederate then stood at the side of a road and actually hitch hiked (i.e., put out her thumb as cars whizzed by). Two observers coded the number of male and female drivers that drove by along with the number of times that a given driver stopped to pick up the confederate. For obvious security reasons, once a driver stopped, this was counted as an instance of having picked up the hitchhiker. In other words, the confederate did not actually get into any cars. A male observer also hid close by to ensure against any possible threats to the confederate's security.
Here are the results (Table 1, p. 1297):
Cup Size A Cup Size B Cup Size C
Male drivers (n = 774) 40/268 46/256 60/250
(14.92%) (17.79%) (24.00%)
Female drivers (n = 426) 12/132 11/144 14/150
(9.09%) (7.64%) (9.33%)
Statistically speaking, only men's behaviors were affected by the hitchhiker's breast size (p < .03). The frequency of stopping in the cup C condition was marginally greater than that of cup B (p = 0.09) and significantly greater than that of cup A (p < .01). The difference between cups A and B was not significant.
The bottom line: If a woman has large breasts, men are more likely to engage in prosocial behavior (in this case offering her a ride). I suppose that we could have all predicted this fact albeit it is fun to see it tested in a scientific manner. Finally, I am only the messenger so direct your accusations of patriarchal oppression to Dr. Guéguen!
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