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FMRI Shows Man Loves Wife More Than Angelina Jolie 347

An anonymous reader writes "We've discussed (at length) functional MRI technology as it pertains to marketing and virtual reality, but now Esquire writer A.J. Jacobs has become the first person to go inside the controversial machine to test the science behind his sex drive. As in, he has fMRI experts read his mind as to whether he's actually more turned on by his young wife or Angelina Jolie. The results, unsurprisingly, are both geeky and hilarious. Would you subject yourself to this kind of reality check?"
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FMRI Shows Man Loves Wife More Than Angelina Jolie

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  • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @01:35AM (#27991797) Journal

    I think the MRI would find I preferred rotten turnip to Angelina Jolie. I think she's got no class. The term trailer trash comes to mind.

    I actually do love my wife (who doesn't read this board, so this isn't some big suck up) but there would be plenty of celebs (and a few rotten vegies) that'd come closer than Jolie would.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 18, 2009 @01:40AM (#27991827)
      I don't think I've ever been so bored with a first post - EVER
      • by tezbobobo ( 879983 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @02:18AM (#27992019) Homepage Journal

        I originally assumed it was another of those 'gay nigger' posts which used to frequent slashdot. Still not sure though. I love my wife and she is deeply beautiful (also doesn't read slashdot) but that doesn't stop Angelina from being hot.

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by sopssa ( 1498795 )

          I've never understood people who talk like Angelina Jolie is like the hottest person in the world. Her face looks weird, her hair doesn't look good at all nor does her body because of those.

          First post's trailer trash is a good term.

          • by Cruciform ( 42896 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @05:18AM (#27992871) Homepage

            If you want to mess with people who drool over her, tell them to put her picture and one of Jon Voight side by side, then look at their mouths.
            From then on whenever they look at her, they'll see him and find it nearly impossible to find her attractive.
            But that may only work on right brained people. If any left brainers can confirm, that would be interesting.

            • by Loko Draucarn ( 398556 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @09:35AM (#27995075)

              Left-brainers have the opposite effect; after comparing the mouths, they find Jon Voight strangely attractive.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              I'm the freak who doesn't have a dominant hemisphere...Go figure. Every time I test, it runs right down the middle. Supposedly it runs that way for about 2% of the population. Anyway, I'll throw my opinion out there...FOR SCIENCE!

              There is definitely something in the chin/lips, especially if you're looking at a picture of Voight when he's younger.

              For me though, my perception is drawn to the eyes/nose triangle first, and then the first thing I notice about her mouth is that little smirk she affects. I'd never

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by syousef ( 465911 )

          I love my wife and she is deeply beautiful (also doesn't read slashdot) but that doesn't stop Angelina from being hot.

          No, what stops her from being hot is that she doesn't look good and has mental health issues.

        • Angelina, hot? Seriously? She looks like a horse sat on her face. She's grotesque.

        • by Steauengeglase ( 512315 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @09:31AM (#27994967)

          It should also be noted that Bea Arthur beat out Angelina and the wife.

    • by Hojima ( 1228978 )

      Well, I did RTFA (quite interesting and the brevity of the summary gives it no justice) and his wife wasn't really gorgeous (but not bad either). I do however remember my psychology professor talking about beauty in class, and how people we know for longer have more appeal. He also demonstrated that we are attracted to a sort of mean of appearance, and showed computer generated image of a man and a woman that were composed of thousands of photos compiled into one. They didn't catch my particular fancy, but

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mi ( 197448 )

      ...Angelina Jolie. I think she's got no class.

      I thought, Angelina was hot, until I learned, she has a Che Guevara tattoo []... Eeeewww...

      • Is that actually true? Judging by her politics/personality, I wouldn't be at all surprised ... but I haven't been able to find any credible sources to support that claim. All I can find is articles saying something like "reportedly" she has it "somewhere on her body".

    • I think the MRI would find I preferred rotten turnip to Angelina Jolie.

      Did you just say you were more sexually attracted to rotten vegetables than a woman?

      Interesting. What do you call yourselves? Turnipys?

      • by syousef ( 465911 )

        Did you just say you were more sexually attracted to rotten vegetables than a woman?

        Well I guess you could classify her as a woman....just.

    • I wholeheartedly agree. Angelina Jolie for me is in that same category that contains also Madonna and a few other over-hyped (looks-wise) celebs.

      Also, my wife does happen to be very hot. And no, I have no clue what she found in me. Will have to put that on my T-shirt one day.

  • by __aajfby9338 ( 725054 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @01:39AM (#27991821)
    If it was an honest test, they would have asked him about Kristen Bell.
    • by dargaud ( 518470 )

      If it was an honest test, they would have asked him about Kristen Bell.

      Just to show that tastes vary (and that's a good thing), I think she looks like a piglet. And for the record, no, I'm not attracted to piglets.

  • by Swampash ( 1131503 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @01:43AM (#27991843)

    of his wife.

  • by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @01:53AM (#27991903)

    The MythBusters had an episode (episode 93 according to google) where they had team members who took part in a mock crime in order to test various "lie detection" methods, complete with real punishments for various outcomes.

    It wasn't valid science, but it was a fascinating exploration of how one could fool these various tests. The polygraph was the usual mumbo jumbo, but the MRI test was interesting in showing how difficult it is to isolate anything for interpretation. I interpreted the results as an effectively random outcome, much like the interpretation is being used here - all correlation with an external event, with everyone involved convincing themselves they've isolated the causation.

    But if this works for him to convince himself that he truly loves his wife, I'm not going to argue with him.

    To me, it shows the value of double(or more)-blind testing.

    Ryan Fenton

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by fractoid ( 1076465 )
      Wouldn't blind testing of romantic relationships involve a lot more touching and feeling? ;)
  • Follow up experiment (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ouimetch ( 1433125 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @01:55AM (#27991915)
    "In a cruel twist of bioengineering, the romantic craving actually gets more intense post-dumping."

    I would be very interested in seeing this same test run on somebody that just terminated a relationship, and then run once again after a rebound fling. Bonus points if the reboundie was blacked out.
  • Not very controlled. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GigsVT ( 208848 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @01:57AM (#27991921) Journal

    I don't know, I think comparing studio airbrushed photos of Jolie with candid snaps of his wife may not be the best experiment.

    This whole thing seems not very scientific and more like "hey lets play with our toy".

    • Have you got an idea on how to make it more "scientific"?

      It seems that lately many people have the misconception that science is exact. Math is exact; science is mostly just guesses, based on what is assumed to be fact for a while.

  • by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <> on Monday May 18, 2009 @02:10AM (#27991987)

    Would anybody like to place a bet that Brad Pitt's brain would light up brighter for Jacobs' wife (assuming she's reasonably hot)? Does it mean either guy would even consider trading wives? Not for a second.

    And let's not forget that there's a measurable time lag before the hormones kick in and that immediate flash of reflexive horniness morphs into something similar but far from identical.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hyades1 ( 1149581 )

      Bad post...I wasn't clear. My point is that the reflexive reaction, no matter what it is, isn't the one that has a lot to do with a long-term pair bond. A sexy picture of the significant other is going to conjure memories of an actual physical relationship. A sexy picture of somebody hot might be stimulating, but it can't replicate the memory of something that has actually happened.

  • by glwtta ( 532858 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @02:48AM (#27992143) Homepage
    I didn't RTFA, but why would you expect Angelina Jolie to love this man's wife more than he does? Have they even met?
  • by incognito84 ( 903401 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @02:51AM (#27992157)
    Imagine the scientist standing outside the fMRI.

    Scientist: "Look at the following pictures, please. *Click* Next picture, *Click*, Next picture *Click*"
    Patient: *Ding on metal sound*
    Scientist: "What was tha--Oh!"
  • Well of course. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Xest ( 935314 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @03:10AM (#27992237)

    He's not going to "Love" Angela Jolie more because he doesn't know her to have that bond.

    That doesn't mean he wouldn't rather shag her though!

    • by evanbd ( 210358 )
      Actually, yes it does. At least according to (their interpretation of) the fMRI. RTFA and all that.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @03:14AM (#27992249)

    If the lie detector wasn't bad enough, this certainly takes the cake of "tests" concerning the psyche of people. It's anything but unheard of that lie detectors are wrong (you can actually train that, go figure), and they at least have a semblance of a realistice chance to guess right. You are asked questions, your physical reaction is measured. That's at least straightforward. Worthless, because if you have a little control over your autonomic system (it's possible, to some degree) you can easily fool it, but at least there's a connection.

    Now here's a man that loves his wife more than Angie. So? Maybe he's not into this kind of woman? Maybe he really loves his wife, or maybe he loves fat chicks, unless you ask him (and he chooses to tell the truth) you'll never know.

    You add another variable to a test that is already guesswork at best: Personal taste and preference. It's not just true or false anymore. A lie detector is at least straightforward with the question, even if the answer is mostly just "maybe" in most cases. With this test, even the question is fuzzy.

    • by DZign ( 200479 )

      For those interested in fmri and marketing I suggest you read Martin Lindstroms book Buyology.

      > unless you ask him (and he chooses to tell the truth) you'll never know.

      What I learned from that book was that people don't know themselves if they tell the truth..
      Our unconscious mind reacts very fast, makes impulse decisions (what product to buy, what you like, ..)
      and when you're asked about it, our conscious mind will try logically explain it and make up a rationale (which may not be what actually happened)

  • by JDub87 ( 1391689 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @03:30AM (#27992327)

    If women hear about this...

    Next argument:
    "You don't really love me!"
    "Baby you know I do!"
    "Prove it! You, me and my sister are going down to the machine tomorrow!"
    *Uh oh*

    • by Zumbs ( 1241138 )
      ... only to find, that you are actually turned more on by her uncle Bernard than by her ... or Angelina Jolie :-)
  • by Simonetta ( 207550 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @03:31AM (#27992333)

    This guy is crazy to submit to this test. Here is a (near) pseudo-science test being applied to him with a loaded question that can have only one possible correct and right answer. And the machine is not assured to give him that correct answer. And he does it in a nationally published magazine.

        Suppose this machine 'proved' that he was more turned on by a professional sexpot movie star than his own wife. Do you think that she would ...ever... let him live that down? If you say yes, then you don't know anything about women...go fuck your compiler.

        Thirty years from now they have some silly disagreement. She says "..but you don't really love me..." He says " but, darling, honey, of course I do..." She says, "no, you really don't, and that machine proved it!".

        There are some questions that have only one possible correct answer, regardless of what might be the 'truth'. The most important one is when your wife or girlfriend asks you " do you really love me?". Guys, listen to this, this is important, the only possible thing that you can ever say when this collection of sounds hits your ears is "YES". No hesitation, no ..uh.., no ponderous meaningful silences, just 'yes'. Anything else that you could say or not say would be taken by her to mean 'no, I don't love you'. It just takes one 'no' and she will never believe you next 10 million times that you say "yes, I love you".

        Another example of question that has only one possible answer is when someone who has the ability and the inclination to destroy your life asks you: "Have you ever used drugs?" Here the only possible answer is NO!, even if you're standing there with a joint dangling from your lips. Please don't forget this as it may come in useful some day.

        A third example is when someone is pointing a gun at you and asks you, "Do you believe in...". Fellas, this is not an occasion for amicable discussion imbued with gentle irony. Chuck it up, smile, and shout 'YES!'. I believe in jumpin' Jehovah, the lizard king, the holy rock, the flying pizza monster, whatever, and add that you're overwhelming glad to find another true believer, and " could you ...uh... maybe ...uh... put down that gun?"

        So you or anyone else in the world has nothing to gain by allowing yourselves to hooked up to some machine and be asked one of the questions that have only one possible answer, and gambling that the machine affirms that you actually and truly believe that you are giving the right answer. You have nothing to gain if the machine says 'yes, he's telling the truth' and everything to lose if the machine indicates otherwise.

        It's like playing Russian Roulette.

    • If those are the kind of arguments you're having with your spouse, I'd prefer being divorced.
      If there's anything I hate more in those "discussions" "people have while married" it's those flower petal counting lines.
      Sure, she might ask this "question" at some time when they're moody during pregnancy (or somesuch), but if you and your spouse really have nothing more tangible to argue about during fights than "do you love me", then you probably don't anyway. You probably love the idea that you're married, or

    • by stjobe ( 78285 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @07:09AM (#27993425) Homepage

      You fail to mention the most feared question of all though: "Honey, does this dress make my butt look big?"

      There's no good answer to that at all. If you hear it coming from your loved ones lips, you're better off throwing yourself out the window than trying to answer it.

      And no, "No honey, your butt makes your butt look big" isn't really as conducive to not sleeping on the couch for a few weeks as many single young men would think.

  • by Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <> on Monday May 18, 2009 @04:07AM (#27992499) Homepage
    Show him a picture of a pile of green backs, contrasted with a picture of his wife or Angelina Jolie. I suspect that the green backs would win -- sad, greedy gits!
  • I mean, you see a half naked pic of your wife and you also know that she goes off in the sack. Jolie, on the other hand, looks pretty but you just have no idea, or memory, of how much fun she is.

    My wife also gets me excited. And really, that's no surprise. I know what she really likes and I really, really like it too. Everytime I think about it, it gives me a smile.

    Results are no shock. Jolie is just eye-candy. That it.

  • Perhaps beauty is simply inversely proportional to lip size?

    That could be an alternative explanation to these results.

  • Actually, it does not show what the summary title claims.

    "Love" is different from sexual arousal, and I mean that in a medical sense. While many details are still unclear, from what we do know, regarding hormones and brain scans (only one of which is covered by this research), there are marked differences, especially regarding long-term love and sex drive.

  • by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @05:00AM (#27992765) Journal

    Myself and others wax scientific and rant extensively about the problems associated with using this technique. I'll keep mine short this time by keeping it to an example. From TFA in that eminent science journal Esquire:

    "When you speak, blood flows to the language centers. When you blink your eyes, it flows to the eye-blinking centers."

    The same region that makes something happen is also responsible for inhibiting that action. Each contains both accelerator and brakes. When you withhold speech, blood flows to the language centers. When you prevent your eyes from blinking, blood flows to the eye blinking centers. When the reaction is "I love my wife", blood flows to the I love my wife centers. When the reaction is "I don't love my wife", blood flows to the I love my wife centers.

    It is not possible for fMRI to tell the difference between a positive and negative reaction, and is in fact measuring both reactions being considered prior to resolution in the sampling time. The two reactions may use some different Hebbian neural assemblies within the same region, but the low (ie. several cubic millimeters) spatial resolution of MRI catches both of them plus much more in the same voxel (3D pixel). The same problem emerges when different regions "light up" in the different conditions. It can't be determined whether that is excitatory or inhibitory activity.

    By way of providing a reference, the above is what I was taught by a biophysicist who was working on his dissertation on this subject under Peter Fox, originator of the use of MRI for functional testing (ie. 'boxcar' design), including the use of SPM (statistical probability mapping) for analysis in comparing the MRI results in the different conditions. The above should also make it clear that using fMRI as a "lie detector" is fruitless.

  • Seriously, in your brain your wife is a very complicated entity that's backed with a serious amount of information. Where you sat on your first date? That (hopefully) subtle look on her face when she can't stand her friend's conversation matter?

    Might be more interesting to see how much you 'love' someone you actually despise but know very, very well.

    Unless you have a horrible marriage or are a child, your marriage is a unique thing to your brain. Comparing it to your feelings for Angelina Anybody is just

    • I don't know. If he had any sense he would have a plan B ready: if the result was different he'd have to bribe the researcher to "interpret" the results to keep peace in the family :-)

      I'd rather face the RIAA without a lawyer than upset the significant other :-).

  • What does it say inside Angelina Jolie's lips?

    Inflate to 50 pounds.

... though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage from beginning to end. -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"