By Kait Smith for YourTango on Yahoo
If the sight of an adorable infant sends your biological clock into a frenzy, you’re likely experiencing what researchers are calling “baby fever.”
Though you may have passed off this fever as a joke in previous conversations with girlfriends or loved ones, research in the journal Emotion is calling the sudden, irrepressible urge to procreate a legitimate emotional and physical phenomenon. And men experience it, too.
The research was conducted by a husband and wife pair at Kansas State University, inspired to investigate the phenomenon after the birth of their second child. They began by conducting a formal survey and found that both sexes develop the fever, though the intensity of the sensation varies greatly over time.
Interestingly (although expectedly), when asked to rank the importance of being famous, having sex, having money and having a baby, women rated having a baby higher than men, who greatly preferred just having sex.
In attempt to explain baby fever, the researchers adopted three views. First, that people, mainly women, are programmed to feel they’re supposed to have children (a sociocultural view). Second, that people want to have children to fulfill a natural role as nurturer (a byproduct view). Neither of these explanations tested well among research participants.
But thirdly, that baby fever is a signal to the brain that the time may be right to procreate (adaptationist view) made the most sense, say researchers. In testing the view, they observed that positive exposure to babies (mainly those who are behaving) intensifies the urge to have children.
Meanwhile, negative contact — think screaming, kicking, stinky baby — suppressed the urge. Considering the obvious trade-offs (children mean less freedom, less money) was another factor in the intensity of baby fever.
Also worth mentioning: For women, the urge to have a child dampens after the first baby. For men, however, one kid means a sudden desire to have even more.
There’s no official word on why this happens, but we have a feeling it has to do with the actual process of childbirth — and the man’s desire to spread his seed.