Nice guys may win this time because women tend to prefer men who are altruistic and care about the well-being of others, rather than men who are just good-looking, a new study finds.
Based on the results of the study, the researchers concluded that men were more attractive to women when they were placed in a scenario showing them doing a generous, kind, or heroic act. Men who were only good-looking did not appear as attractive.
Researchers from the University of Sunderland and the University of Worcester, both in the United Kingdom, wanted to see whether altruism (or selflessness – when one shows concern for the welfare of others) was a trait that women looked for in men when choosing a partner.
For the new study, the researchers looked at what happened when altruism and physical attractiveness were investigated together, and which quality women preferred.
Daniel Farrelly, lead author of the study and a senior lecturer at the Institute of Health and Society at the University of Worcester, said that he had always been interested in why altruism exists in our species.
The 202 study participants were shown photos of twenty-four men – whose degrees of handsomeness varied. Some of the photos also had descriptions of the men doing good deeds like buying a homeless person food, or saving a child from a river. Other photos had not so nice descriptions, such as the man not wanting to help the child or the homeless person.
According to Farrelly, researchers found that altruism is much better than looks when it comes to long-term relationships. If the woman was looking for something long term, an altruistic man had a better chance with her, than a selfish, but good-looking man.
Previous studies also found that altruism is a desirable trait that women look for in men. Selfless men are more likely to be supportive and make better fathers.
On the other end of the spectrum, the researchers found that women who were only looking for a fling tended to prefer selfish men. Farrelly said that this may relate to other characteristics that women look for in short-term partners.
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