Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Coolidge Effect

I mentioned last week that US President Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) was a dour, humourless man of such few words that he was nicknamed “Silent Cal”. His wife, Grace Coolidge (1879-1957), was the opposite: vivacious, charming and personable.

Calvin Coolidge (right) and Mrs. Coolidge (left) in 1923, two days after Calvin Coolidge became President of the United States. The black arm band is a symbol of official mourning for his predecessor, Warren Harding, who had died in office.

The Coolidges have given their name to a social phenomenon named the Coolidge Effect. More of that a little later. Behavioral endocrinologist Frank A. Beach first mentioned the term "Coolidge effect" in publication in 1955, crediting one of his students with suggesting the term at a psychology conference. He attributed the term to:
… an old joke about Calvin Coolidge when he was President … The President and Mrs. Coolidge were being shown [separately] around an experimental government farm. When [Mrs. Coolidge] came to the chicken yard she noticed that a rooster was mating very frequently. She asked the attendant how often that happened and was told, "Dozens of times each day." Mrs. Coolidge said, "Tell that to the President when he comes by." Upon being told, the President asked, "Same hen every time?" The reply was, "Oh, no, Mr. President, a different hen every time." President: "Tell that to Mrs. Coolidge."
The term Coolidge Effect is now used by biologists and psychologists for a behavioural phenomenon common to most species of mammal, that sexual activity of both males and females increases when they are introduced to new and receptive partners, even if existing partners are still available.

Someone now needs to carry out a study of the Coolidge Effect and possible links to Weinstein Syndrome but remember, you read it here first.


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