If you find yourself in a Brian de Palma movie or a James M. Cain novel, you might want to make sure you’ve got some minocycline on you–it’s been found to reduce men’s tendency to trust attractive women, in a study with lots of ramifications that make me, as a liberal-arts-educated twentysomething, pretty uncomfortable.
In the research, conducted by Japanese researchers and published in Scientific Reports 3, men were dosed with a placebo or with the minocycline and given money to invest with women of varying levels of attractiveness. Says the paper, minocycline has been shown “to facilitate sober decision-making in healthy human subjects.”
Here we show that minocycline also reduces the risk of the ‘honey trap’ during an economic exchange. Males tend to cooperate with physically attractive females without careful evaluation of their trustworthiness, resulting in betrayal by the female. In this experiment, healthy male participants made risky choices (whether or not to trust female partners, identified only by photograph, who had decided in advance to exploit the male participants).
The men given a placebo chose to give more of their money to the women of high attractiveness, to the tune of about 66 percent, compared to only about 49 percent given to the women of low attractiveness.
The men dosed with minocycline, an antibiotic usually used to treat acne, gave less money overall, but with a smaller split. The dosed men gave about 52 percent to the women of high attractiveness, and 48 percent to the less attractive women.
This study, as you’ve realized, is kind of messed up, assuming as it does that women are trying to indiscriminately take men’s money and that a literal drug is needed to prevent this. It’s the kind of study that’ll probably be wholly embraced by the watchful anti-misandrists over at Reddit’s disturbing Men’s Rights subforum. But the results do indicate that some decrease in trust was going on; minocycline is also sometimes used to treat schizophrenia, so it clearly affects the neurological system in addition to its function as an acne medication. The study appears in the current issue of Scientific Reports 3.