Happier men less sexually attractive: study
Published Tuesday, May 24, 2011 11:49AM PDT
Time to update that profile pic; a new study from the University of British Columbia suggests women are more sexually attracted to men who appear moody or proud than those who are smiling and happy.
The study, published Tuesday in the American Psychological Association journal Emotion, found a wide gap between how men and women respond to happiness.
More than 1,000 adults were asked to rate hundreds of images of the opposite sex posing with wide smiles, puffed-up chests or with their heads down in shame.
Lead researcher and UBC psychology professor Jessica Tracy said men found happy women the most attractive, while women found happy men least attractive.
"Smiling has been found to convey femininity," Tracy said. "But for men, a woman smiling suggests receptivity; a smiling woman is happy to see you, she might even be open to having some kind of sexual encounter."
Tracy says both evolutionary and cultural forces may contribute to the disparate results, which found pride to be the highest-rated trait in men, followed by shame.
"Pride in men may make them look high status and tough, and those are characteristics that may appear adaptive, and which our culture tends to want us to find attractive," she said, adding that the study may help explain the enduring allure of bad boys.
Men, on the other hand, ranked proud women as the least attractive.
"That's consistent with gender norms," Tracy said. "Women who appear proud might also appear strong and high status but, traditionally at least, that's not necessarily something men want. They might find it threatening in some way."
Shame, which was the second-highest rated emotion for both genders, has been associated with an awareness of social norms and can elicit trust, Tracy said.
It's not all bad news for happy, well-adjusted men -- the study's authors say it has no implication about what emotions are most desirable in a long-term relationship.