Guéguen’s big bust experiments

Professor Nicolas Guéguen finds significance, or at least fascination, in what might be called voyeuristic microscopy, watching how people react to mundanely noticeable sights and sounds. Many of his experiments involve young female confederates who are shaped or perfumed or who lay a hand upon strangers in particular ways. Generally, the test subjects who respond most vigorously are men.

Guéguen, based at the University of Bretagne-Sud, Brittany, has been pumping out publications since 2000. He honours the academic custom of referring to himself in print with the royal “we”.

His experiments probe a range of human behaviour.

A study called Women’s Bust Size and Men’s Courtship Solicitation, published in the journal Body Image, describes how Guéguen tested “the effect of a woman’s breast size on approaches made by males. We hypothesised that an increase in breast size would be associated with an increase in approaches by men.” The study ends with an 827-word ode on the topic sentence: “Our hypothesis was confirmed.” …

So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.