The most interesting thing is that the inverse is not true for women. On average, women who were told they would interact with men did not perform any differently on cognitive tasks than women who were told they would be interacting with women.
Gender simply matters less to women.
I've always suspected this is the root of much feminism, as well as women's sexual confusion, and the deepest source of the endless human sexual comedy.
Unlike men, women have a category called "human" in which gender (while recognized) is relatively unimportant. As a hypothesis for future busy research scientists, I offer the suggestion that this may be due to the primacy of maternity in women's evolutionarily adapted brain structure. The category "my baby" is way more important than the gender of a child to the mother.
When I sent a copy of "The Mere Anticipation of an Interaction With a Woman Can Impair Men's Cognitive Performance" to my husband, his response was: "They need scientific studies for this stuff?"
Well, yes, apparently these days we do.
Men and women really are different. Not only our bodies, but our brains react differently.
Suppressing reality in the interests of ideology doesn't help women -- it just makes us all act in dumber and dumber ways.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.