The Bikini Model Made Me Do It

Death by bikini? CSA Images/Mod Art Collection/Getty

Can you blame a traffic accident, theft or murder on a bikini magazine? Well, you can try. And there's even a little science to back up your case.

Thongs, Hot Dogs and the Male Gaze

Let's set the stage for this one. The year is 1993 and it's a hot summer day in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Carl Corie is driving down the street and what does he see? A 23-year-old woman in a thong bikini selling hot dogs on the side of the road.

Now Carl is a slave to the male gaze like so many members of his gender, so what does he do? He takes a look. Heck, he takes a second look - and that's when he rear-ends a police car.

This all really happened, by the way -- reported in the Boca Raton News. And here you'll see some video footage of this bikini hotdog thing in action:

Carl earned himself a ticket for failing to use due care and not watching the road. And as for our be-thonged hotdog vixen, she was ARRESTED as a traffic hazard in connection with a SERIES of traffic accidents.

Clearly, the main issue here is that Carl was transfixed. He simply couldn't look away, no matter where the car was headed. But science provides us with another take on this, one that just might make you rethink the endless tapestry of scantily-clad, overly-sexualized femininity that we surround ourselves with.

Bikini Impatience

According to a 2008 Belgian study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, the mere sight of a bikini or lingerie model can take a serious toll on male willpower.

They discovered that heterosexual men who watched sexy videos or handled lingerie sought immediate gratification -- even when they were making decisions about money, soda, and candy.

That means a little bit of sexy advertising or even a Raquel Welch cave woman poster on the wall can leave the average heterosexual male defenseless against a whole list of impulsive decisions.

And this is where it gets all zen on us: The researchers argue that bikinis cause a shift in time preference, forcing the male gazer to live in the moment. There's no future, no past, only the here and now. The genetic programing says breed, but since you can't actually mate with a Victoria Secrets catalog, you just gobble down a doughnut and order the "Beastmaster" trilogy on blu-ray.

So-called bikini impatience only affects more reward-sensitive men, but it's still worth remembering the next time someone tries to sell you a product glazed in sexual allure.

About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.