Looking for an easy way to improve your memory? Well, Google the prettiest face you can, and start gazing.
This technique works for men, anyway. Recent studies show that men who briefly look at an image of what they perceive to be an attractive woman, do much better in memory tests.
“Although intuition might suggest that exposure to highly attractive people would be distracting and would impair cognitive performance, mating goals might lead people to display desirable mental traits,” write the researchers led by psychologist Michael Baker.
In other words, men subconsciously improve their memory in this way to appear more desirable.
A study in Evolutionary Psychology had 58 psychology students hear a story while glimpsing 10 faces of the opposite sex for seven seconds each. Half the group looked at ‘attractive’ faces, while the other half gazed at ‘average’ ones.
Men who looked at the attractive faces recalled the story much better; women who looked at the same face were barely affected.
Another similar test, this time with 123 students, found similar results overall. The pictures “are likely to have primed a short-term mating goal,” the researchers say.
These studies at ‘first glance’ (hah) seem to be counter-intuitive with other studies that say men’s cognitive performance declines when socializing—or even thinking about socializing—with a woman. But as Baker noted, glaring at an inanimate image is a lot less pressure than socializing in the flesh.