Picture this: Sunday, 11:00 p.m. Your college dorm room. You've just spent the last 24 hours pulling extra shifts at work (where "pulling extra shifts at work" is code-speak for "heroically grappling with a keg monster until it wheezed its final hoppy stinkbreath"). You have an 8:00 a.m. final tomorrow morning, you haven't even opened the textbook for this class all semester, and panic is starting to set in. OK, time to hunker down. First step, get rid of any potential distractions -- find a quiet space, turn off your phone and your TV, close the 23 open tabs of porn on your computer ...
"Your secret is safe with me, perv."
Actually, wait. Maybe you shouldn't close those tabs quite yet. At least not all of them. Maybe just the ones with butt stuff. In fact, now might be a good time to look up even more porn -- but only the "classy" kind, because that's the kind that science has proven can improve your test scores.
In a study at Carnegie Mellon University, researchers gathered a group of heterosexual male college students and submitted them to a speech and math test in an experience that was purposely designed to be stressful. While they were waiting to take the test -- probably while planted actors whispered about how the test was "such a bitch, bro" while shivering and sweating a lot -- the students were asked to participate in a survey, which they were told was unrelated to the test because, again, scientists are sneaky little bastards. In the survey, half of the students were shown images of partially nude couples doing some fuckin' (but, you know, classily), while the other half were shown images of couples engaging in non-sexual behaviors such as unfuckily drinking wine together. After the survey, the students' stress levels were measured and they were given the aforementioned anxiety-inducing test.
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"Empty again? I thought I just refilled this damn thing."
The students who were shown the semi-pornographic images exhibited lower levels of stress and scored an average of one-and-a-half times better on the math portion of the test. The scientists concluded that viewing "mildly erotic" images helped to calm the students' nerves and thus improved their subsequent scores on a stressful test. It's not as ridiculous as it sounds -- it's actually fairly basic brain chemistry. Stress releases chemicals that wreak havoc on your ability to do, well, anything. Stimulating the pleasure centers in the brain blunts their effect.