Study: coffee makes women smarter, men dumber


According to a new study in England, drinking coffee ameliorates women's brainpower in stressful situations, but makes men slower on the uptake. And because caffeine is the most widely consumed drug in the world, with Britons alone drinking around seventy-million cups of coffee each day, researchers say the implications are potentially staggering.

Researchers from Bristol University wanted to examine coffee's effect on a body already under stress, so they recruited sixty-four men and women as test subjects, putting them in same-sex pairs. Each pair was then given a number of tasks to complete, such as negotiating, doing puzzles, and taking memory tests, and were told that, upon completion, they would give a presentation relating to their tasks. Half of the pairs were given decaf coffee, while the other half received cups containing a large shot of caffeine.

Researchers discovered that men who drank the high-test coffee suffered greatly impaired performances in memory tests, as well as taking an average of twenty seconds longer to complete puzzles than the decaf drinkers. But women completed the puzzles an astonishing 100 seconds faster if they'd been given coffee, according to the Journal of Applied Social Psychology. So, might I propose a strategy for future U.S. military success? The Starbucks Doctrine, with quick-thinking, espresso-fueled women on the front lines synergistically complementing the brute force of male grunts.

Commentarium (23 Comments)

Feb 02 11 - 3:09pm

Today in small sample size theater, this.

Feb 02 11 - 5:16pm

Ok so the test subjects all had the same IQ, thought and processed different situations exactly the same? men and women?

Feb 02 11 - 5:19pm
Richard Cabeza

Fortunately, penises have the opposite effect.

Feb 02 11 - 5:36pm

64 subjects? Seriously? 64? This isn't a study, it's a joke.

Feb 02 11 - 5:48pm

what a ridiculous study.

Feb 02 11 - 5:55pm
Steve D

This, unfortunately, is all too typical of the social "sciences."

Feb 02 11 - 5:58pm

Same sex pairs? Not like women are ever a distraction to guys... especially when they are hopped up on caffeine...

Feb 02 11 - 6:12pm

a·mel·io·rate – verb – make or become better, more bearable.

Is the author saying that if women drink coffee their superior intelligence becomes more bearable. Hmmm...

Feb 02 11 - 6:45pm

What a lovely pilot study. Now if only they'd put together a study with enough participants for their findings to reach significance.
I would be genuinely interested to hear what a real study on this finds. Are there no real studies you can report to us, ever? Why is this all "small sample size theatre," as M pointed out? Studies this small are quite literally entertainment value and nothing more.

Feb 02 11 - 6:59pm

I would like to see a larger sample size too, that was the first thing I noticed about the study. But it is what it is, you can choose to lend it credence, or laugh it off. At the very least, it makes for interesting conversation, or provides "entertainment value." I'm with you guys though.

Feb 02 11 - 8:30pm

As I'm certain we all already know, men can make themselves dumber all by themselves without the help of anything.

Feb 02 11 - 9:09pm

64 is a reasonable sample size for the kind of simple generalisations being offered; this sort of study really is more of a 'makes you think' type of affair that would inspire other studies in kind. Unless there is some sort of definite benefit to the public or there is some way to make money off the product you can't really expect too much, it's all a matter of funding and time. Hopefully others will be inspired to do something more comprehensive that can give us a better idea about why such a difference in response between male and female participants. In the mean time I'm off for my morning cup o' joe

Feb 02 11 - 9:19pm

They didn't tell you the slowest men finished before the fastest woman.

Feb 03 11 - 12:36am

I have heard that putting men and women into combat situations is an incredibly bad idea. The women are fine, but the men have instincts hard wired into their brains by millions of years of evolution that says women in danger constitutes the worst possible scenerio and so they become more aggresive and start to view the other men as threats to the women and so discipline breaks down.

Feb 03 11 - 1:40am

The last comment makes me want to headbutt the offer into a coma before setting his computer ablaze. Not really a joke I can appreciate.

Feb 03 11 - 3:03am

This explains everything

Feb 03 11 - 4:11am

I'm surprised they didn't ask the participants what their normal dose of caffeine was, or how sensitive to it they were. It clearly helps me think better, but then I'm pretty addicted.

Feb 03 11 - 9:05am

Like David said, there's no way to tell what the caffeine intake was prior to the test. Also, if they have any disorders of the brain (i.e. Autism spectrum disorders, such as PDD-NOS which I have). In my case, Caffeine helps to stabilize my condition. It would be interesting to see such a study comparing the drug's effect on those with such disorders to those without.

Feb 03 11 - 10:42am

I'm not sure is something like this should be published at all. Studying statistics and research, one would need a whole lot more "volunteers" to deem this "study" accurate. Of course people would but into this information without questioning it. I am female and when heard this on the radio my first thought was "yeah, I drink coffee in the morning so I can be smarter at 6am". Fact of the matter is caffiene increases the firing of the neurons. To state that caffiene make women smarter and men dumber has no value other than "entertainment". It is not rocket science but I suppose if you publish it on the internet enough people would believe it.

Feb 03 11 - 8:18pm

They forgot to include that all subjects were nude and the caffeine drinking males were facing the women.

Feb 04 11 - 10:19am

Seek out the whole study and read it before you claim it's pop science. Even little studies like this have serious protocols.

Feb 16 11 - 10:14pm

Correlation does not equal causation.

Dec 22 11 - 4:45am
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