Crucial Minutia
it's the little things...
Ethan Todras-Whitehill
Women Prefer Sought-After Men, Men Eschew Sought-After Women
6 Comments | posted April 04th, 2007 at 12:26 pm by Ethan Todras-Whitehill

Ok, so this one is straight from the thanks-science-for-proving-something-everyone-already-knew department:

The Royal Society of London performed an experiment in which they showed men and women photos of the opposite sex. Photos of guys were paired with pictures of women either smiling in their direction or with a neutral expression on their faces, and vice versa. The study found that women were more likely to find a guy attractive when he had a positive female expression turned towards him, while men were less likely to find a woman attractive in the same circumstance. The guys, however, preferred a guy who was neutrally regarded by women. The study concludes that “within-sex competition promotes negative attitudes among men towards other men who are the target of positive social interest from women.” (From The Atlantic Monthly.)

Men & Women Attractiveness Study

Now, the creepy thing here is when you try it for yourself. To do so as a guy, you have to leave that “I can’t tell if another guy is attractive or not” myth at the door. Pretend you’re scoping out the competition at a bar. For instance, I know the photo of the guy in the lower left is the same photo as the guy in the lower right. But doesn’t he look just a wee bit more attractive in the lower left? Better lighting? Slightly less bland expression? Something?

I can back this one up from my own experience as well. One night in college a friend’s frat was throwing a “Pimps and Ho’s” party, in which obviously, girls were urged to dress as hookers and guys as pimps. Some switched the gender roles, of course, but I decided to go avant-garde and came as a John. I wore a half-undone tie and button-down shirt partially untucked. For the coup de grace I got three female friends with three different shades of lipstick to plant smooches on my cheeks. I was not prepared for the attention I got from girls that night. Very few people got the outfit—most just assumed I was getting serious attention from the ladies. Which, of course, led to serious attention from the ladies. This is the same theory that George Costanza followed when he finagled access to a super-secret enclave of hot models by claiming that he was already dating a hot model.

Link to study PDF “Social transmission of face preferences among humans”

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 4th, 2007 at 12:26 pm and is filed under In The News, Relationships, Gender. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

There are currently 6 responses

  1. Kate Torgovnick

    This post cracks me up because these photos all look like mugshots. But more importantly, I have a female insight addition. Guys, please ban the word ‘ladies’ from your vocabulary.

    April 4th, 2007 | 11:14 pm
  2. Oh yeah, I’ll second Kate on this one. Guys, unless you’re Tim Meadows portraying The Ladies’ Man on SNL, less of “the ladies”, please.

    April 5th, 2007 | 11:44 am
  3. Ladies, ladies, ladies. Please. :)

    April 5th, 2007 | 5:05 pm
  4. bubbaj

    i am pretty sure the dude on the upper-right did something fucked up and is now scared shitless to go to jail, where, strangely, it really doesn’t matter if you are attractive or not.

    April 6th, 2007 | 9:08 am
  5. robertatw

    Not a comment on this but on what I think is another gender issue,about how women respond to sports in terms of their being fans. So for example, a woman who follows a baseball team and considers herself a fan, how would she respond to a rival baseball team? Just curious but I think others would be interested in discussing what a fan is or isn’t.

    April 9th, 2007 | 1:37 pm
  6. I always try to remember the biological imperatives operating in these circumstances, which are hopefully not the ONLY thing guiding our behavior, but play a bigger role than we’d like to believe.

    To wit:
    Men are driven to make as many copies of themselves as possible to ensure the survival of their genes. This leads to, among other things:
    a) Men seeming driven to have sex with many partners (I must make lots of copies!), and
    b) Men disdaining promiscuous women (how will I know they will be MY genes when the baby comes?).

    Women are driven to get pregnant, and by a man who will provide the best chance of survival for her offspring. This can mean both physical fitness and the ability to protect/help the child in other ways. The desirability of a dude is socially proved by the attention of other women.

    There’s more, but I find this to be a helpful template to explain a lot of behavior.

    April 25th, 2007 | 5:09 pm

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