Menus Subscribe Search

Follow us


Skateboarders Try Riskier Tricks for Women

• June 18, 2010 • 5:00 AM

Researchers find that skateboarders will take more risks with their tricks and boast higher testosterone levels when women are present.

At long last, science has proven what we’ve suspected all along: Guys ride skateboards for the chicks. In a study aimed at determining the role testosterone plays in physical risk-taking, researchers had young men try to pull off both easy and difficult skateboard tricks — first for another guy and then in the presence of a young, attractive female.

The skateboarders were measured after each epic failure — sorry, “attempted move” — and, consistent with predictions, the young men had higher testosterone levels and took bigger risks when good-looking women were watching. (Also noted: increasing use of the phrase “dude, I swear, I totally landed that ‘ollie,’ like, 50 times straight yesterday.”)

The researchers say their experiment sheds light on other risky masculine behavior — from bar brawls to reckless driving. That’s because the study measures the split-second choice skateboarders make when weighing the likelihood of success (an apathetic yawn from a girl who’s dating the quarterback) versus the physical cost of failure (skinned forehead, shattered ball bearings and another Saturday night with the Tony Hawk video collection).


Skateboarder Frankie Hill, however, took risks on his board and didn’t seem to care who was watching.

“This experiment provides evidence for an effect that has existed in art, mythology, and literature for thousands of years: Beautiful women lead men to throw caution to the wind,” write authors Richard Ronay and William von Hippel in the inaugural issue of Social Psychological and Personality Science. “These findings suggest that, for men, the adaptive benefits gained by enticing mates and intimidating rivals may have resulted in evolved hormonal and neurological mechanisms that facilitated greater risk taking in the presence of attractive women.”

In other words, pride comes before a fall — especially from a skateboard.

The Cocktail Napkin appears at the back page of each issue of Miller-McCune magazine, highlighting current research that merits a raised eyebrow or a painful grin.

Subscribe to Miller-McCune

Matt Palmquist
A graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, Matt Palmquist, a former Miller-McCune staff writer, began his career at daily newspapers such as The Oregonian and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In 2001, he became a staff writer at the SF Weekly in San Francisco, where he won several local and national awards. He also wrote a humorous current affairs column called "The Apologist," which he continued upon leaving the Weekly and beginning a freelance career.

More From Matt Palmquist

Tags: , , ,

If you would like to comment on this post, or anything else on Pacific Standard, visit our Facebook or Google+ page, or send us a message on Twitter. You can also follow our regular updates and other stories on both LinkedIn and Tumblr.

A weekly roundup of the best of Pacific Standard and PSmag.com, delivered straight to your inbox.

Follow us


Subscribe Now

Quick Studies

What Makes You Neurotic?

A new study gets to the root of our anxieties.

Fecal Donor Banks Are Possible and Could Save Lives

Defrosted fecal matter can be gross to talk about, but the benefits are too remarkable to tiptoe around.

How Junk Food Companies Manipulate Your Tongue

We mistakenly think that harder foods contain fewer calories, and those mistakes can affect our belt sizes.

What Steve Jobs’ Death Teaches Us About Public Health

Studies have shown that when public figures die from disease, the public takes notice. New research suggests this could be the key to reaching those who are most at risk.

Speed-Reading Apps Will Not Revolutionize Anything, Except Your Understanding

The one-word-at-a-time presentation eliminates the eye movements that help you comprehend what you're reading.

The Big One

One state—Pennsylvania—logs 52 percent of all sales, shipments, and receipts for the chocolate manufacturing industry. March/April 2014