Biology

Handguns, Hot Sauce, Board Games, and Testosterone

Many important scientific studies have expanded the realm of human knowledge. Commonplace Fun Facts has faithfully informed its readers about innovative research that has answered questions such as “How long does it take mammals to empty their bowels and bladders?”, “Is there a link between liking strong coffee and developing psychopathic tendencies?”, and “Why does walking with a cup of coffee cause it to spill?

Although some might question the relevance of the information gleaned from those studies, we recently found one that has indisputable value. It goes a long way toward answering the ageless questions “Why do guys act the way they do?” and “Why do men have shorter lifespans than women?”

For insight into these mysteries, we refer you to the groundbreaking study from Knox College, Illinois, entitled “Guns, Testosterone, and Aggression: An Experimental Test of a Mediational Hypothesis.“

Of all the studies we have reported, we have to admit that this is one we would most like to have participated in. At the very least, we would have enjoyed watching it play out. The fact that it is designed to study distinctly male behavior probably has something to do with this, since the Commonplace Fun Facts writers are exclusively male and have all been accused of exhibiting “Male Pattern Brain Dysfunction.”

The Experiment

Researchers sought to determine whether certain activities were more likely to increase testosterone levels and if it would carry through to increased aggressive behavior. To test their hypotheses, researchers enlisted the assistance of 30 male college students, aged 18-22. They were told that they would be participating in a study to see if there is a link between taste sensitivity and attention to detail.

The subjects were first brought to a relatively-calm state by showing them nature videos and exposing them to calming music. Each of them then provided a saliva sample, from which the baseline testosterone level was measured.

Half of the men were brought, one by one, into a room and given a replica of a Desert Eagle™ automatic handgun. The other half, serving as a control group, were provided with Hasbro’s Mouse Trap® board game. They were told to spend fifteen minutes fiddling with the items while writing detailed instructions about how to disassemble and reassemble the parts. After 15 minutes, each of them provided a second saliva sample.

For the next stage in the experiment, each of the guys was led into a room and given a cup of water mixed with a single drop of Frank’s® RedHot® sauce. They were told that the water/hot sauce mixture had been prepared by the prior participant. The subject took a sip of water and recorded his assessment of the taste.

Next, the subject was told to prepare the water/hot sauce mixture for the next person, putting as much hot sauce into the water as he wished. The theory was that the higher the testosterone level, the greater the amount of hot sauce that would be inflicted upon fellow participants.

The Results

When the experiment was concluded and the results were tabulated, the researchers confirmed their initial hypothesis. The guys who got to play with a gun saw an average increase in testosterone levels of 62.05 pg/ml. Those who got to play with the board game only experienced an average increase of 0.68 pg/ml.

Did this increased testosterone have any connection to aggressive behavior? That hypothesis was also confirmed. Among the guys who got to play with a gun, they added, on average, 13.61 g of hot sauce to the water that they thought would be tasted by the next participant. The Mouse Trap control group, in contrast, added, on average, 4.23 g.

The Conclusion

If you don’t want to have your next drink of water spiked with hot sauce, you should probably keep guns out of the hands of the guys in your household.

There are probably other conclusions one could draw, but frankly, we’re too distracted with our grand design to introduce hot sauce into the city’s water supply. In retrospect, it may not have been a good idea to start this project with all of our research into the Desert Eagle handgun.


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