The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 16 No. 8 • September 2013

Reducing the Risk to Male Humans of
Making Excessively Generous Economic Offers to
Physically Attractive Females

Continuing our reports on new findings in the biology of economic behavior, we offer the following humdinger. A new paper1 reports that minocycline, an antibiotic in the tetracycline family, reduces the risk to men of making excessively generous offers in economic exchanges with very attractive females, what is called a “honey trap.”

Recognizing that this sort of behavior can be a risky, costly form of bias in economic exchanges, this information may be quite beneficial to those inclined to the “honey trap.” The description of a number of past studies showed that in economic exchanges, minocycline pretreatment resulted in less of a “high” feeling in economic transactions with very attractive women and induced more sober decision-making. In the experiments reported in the new study,1 98 healthy men played a trust game with 8 photographed young females after four days of treatment with either 200 mg/day of minocycline (usually used as an antibiotic at this dose) or placebo. The photos of the women’s faces formed the basis for a decision on the part of each male participant of how much out of 1300 yen (about $13 at that time) they would give a woman.

As the authors explain, “[r]ecent studies with human subjects show that minocycline, a commonly used tetracycline antibiotic, may facilitate focus on appropriate environmental cues for social decision-making, possibly by reducing noise and other factors (e.g., personality and arousal) that can obstruct decisions.”1

It is not clear how the females “betrayed” their benefactors or expressed untrustworthiness, but the results clearly showed that men in the placebo group offered more money to the females that were more attractive, while the men in the minocycline group did not. For the most attractive women, the difference between the amounts of money offered by the men in the placebo group was statistically significantly greater than that offered by the men in the minocycline group, but the difference was not significant for the less attractive women.

There was some discussion of possible neurological mechanisms to explain these effects. In rodent models, minocycline is reported to reduce microglial activation (inflammation*) in certain areas of the brain, including the putamen, thalamus, and frontal cortex. The researchers also report that, in some studies, minocycline may link microglia with glutamate and dopamine interaction. It appears that the effect on “honey trap” behavior is, at present, though, poorly understood.

* The phrase “inflamed by lust” may be literally true! We hope that this experiment will be repeated with gay men viewing photos of other guys. Although we expect a similar result, you can never tell …


  1. Watabe et al. Minocycline, a microglial inhibitor, reduces “honey trap” risk in human economic exchanges. Sci Rep. 3:1685 DOI: 10.1038/srep01685.

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