You know the joke: A man’s intelligence goes down as the size of a woman’s breasts goes up.

It is to laugh.
But it is also something to test, which TV’s Mythbusters did recently. Buster Kari Byron has breasts that have struck men dumb for a dozen years and didn’t object to having them alternately squashed and enhanced and stuffed into a tight shirt. In the name of science, of course.
Byron manned the counter at a coffee shop, waiting on customers male and female while secret cameras rolled. She worked one shift at her natural C cup size, had her schmeebs squeezed down to a B for another, then bounced back with triple-D double-dingers. Sure enough, the bigger Byron’s bangles became, the more coins collected in the can. The tip can, that is.
Men are such boobs.
Except that the can was rigged to separate the men’s tips from the girls’. And while men awarded the faux barista 30% more for the pulchritude of her peaches, women surmised that mammoth mogambos were worth 40% more.
Whose brain is shrinking now, huh?
And, more curiously, why?
My usual hasty and ridiculously incomplete research turned up…nothing.
PsychologyToday reported on a study that did not separate men’s tips from women’s. “One might expect that the ‘breast effect’ might enhance tips for male patrons whereas female patrons might ‘punish’ shapely waitresses (intra-sexual rivalry),” writes evolutionary behavioral scientist Gad Saad. He adds that while researchers expected that breasts that were “too small” or “too big” would result in lower tips than ones that were “just right,” the data “suggest that bigger is always better…at least when it comes to tipping behavior!”
A Cornell University study of nearly 500 waitresses found that tips increased with attractiveness, not breast size. On the other hand, the subjects judged their own hotness—and their scores “increased with their breast size and decreased with their age, waist-to-hip ratio, and body size.”
And then there’s this: Archeologists have found no fertility goddess figurines that look like Eva Longoria, but I haven’t yet met a man who doesn’t worship Eva Longoria like a goddess. It’s relevant to note that in ancient societies, it wasn’t men who carried around statuettes with ginormous gazongas.
So maybe the “breast effect” doesn’t lead women to punish “hotter” babes, but to acknowledge a kind of evolutionary envy: “I want those.” Which, come to think of it, may be the exact same thing going through lots of men’s heads when they drop two bucks instead of one into gratuity jugs.
In any event, why women give bigger tips for bigger tits remains a mystery. What does not remain a mystery, though, is that shallow responses to factors that would seem to be irrelevant to long-term happiness in a relationship are not gender-specific. In the Mythbusters’ exploration, for example, women crinkled their noses and rated as physically unworthy dudes who were described as baristas and nursing home attendants, then raved over what hot foxes the same dudes were when introduced as lawyers and brain surgeons. Which makes you wonder about the many women on Facebook who have fixations on pool boys.
Human beings are complex creatures. It’s difficult to figure out what we want and why. I’m guessing that a woman with a good man in her life might still find it titillating to dream about an afternoon of wild abandon with a set of rock-hard abs. Likewise, paying attention to a robust rack hardly absconds with a man’s intelligence. He’s just, you know, momentarily distracted. Besides, a real man knows when he’s found his soul mate and doesn’t care if she could share a bikini top with Cameron Diaz.
So what do I do? First, I’m more into your Eva Longorias than your Jennifer Love Hewitts. Don’t know why. Just am. And my heroines—Lara, Sushma and Douglyss—aren’t particularly busty, but nonetheless beautiful.
And, finally, when it comes to tips, I’m a big fan of bigguns. I don’t care if the waitress is tall, short, fat, skinny, young, old, stacked, flat—or anything else. If the service is good, the waitress has earned it. And since she’s also likely to be horrendously underpaid, I assume she could use the money.
And I don’t think that makes me stupid.
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