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Thanks to a recent study, this is now scientifically verifiable. The research it refers to is a study published earlier this year, which suggested that some men smoke and drink because this makes them more attractive short-term partners. One way to investigate the issue is to present women with hypothetical men with different personality types and see which ones they prefer.
In one such study , participants had to help a fictional character named Susan choose a date from three male contestants, based on their answers to her questions. In one version, the man was nice — he was in touch with his feelings, caring and kind. The third contestant simply gave neutral answers. So which contestant did participants think Susan should date and who did they prefer to date themselves?
Contrary to the stereotype that nice guys finish last, it was actually the nice contestant that was chosen most frequently for both Susan and for participants themselves. Other studies have similarly shown that women prefer men who are sensitive, confident and easy-going, and that very few if any women want to date a man who is aggressive or demanding.
Characteristics such as warmth, kindness, and basic decency are valued by both women and men — having them makes us more desirable partners, but also makes us appear more physically attractive. Narcissists — people who show high levels of self-importance, superiority, entitlement, arrogance and a willingness to exploit others — are often perceived as very attractive in initial encounters.
This may be because they put a lot of effort into their appearance and how they come across. Studies have shown that female narcissists tend to wear more make-up and show more cleavage than women who score lower on narcissism, whereas male narcissists spend more time building up their muscle mass. In the very short term , narcissists can even seem more well-adjusted, entertaining and generally nicer. But over the long term, narcissists find it difficult to maintain a favourable impression and tend to be perceived as less adjusted, less warm, and more hostile and arrogant.
Or they may simply have bought into myths of dating and behave accordingly. But, for the most part, the evidence suggests that both women and men prefer nice partners and are turned off by jerks. The problem with the nice-guys-finish-last stereotype, aside from going against the grain of years of scientific evidence , is that it may compromise the possibility of forming meaningful relationships.
Perpetuating this myth not only creates unhelpful expectations about how we should behave, but trying to live up to the myth can sometimes damage relationships. It allows some men to blame and hate women as a means of deflecting attention away from their own shortcomings. Edition: Available editions United Kingdom. Viren Swami , Anglia Ruskin University.
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