Women choose good looks over personality in men: Study

New research indicates that young women prefer a handsome man – regardless of how respectful, friendly, ambitious, or intelligent he might be.

Although it is often assumed that men are more swayed by looks when seeking women, and that it is a potential partner’s personality that matters most to women, it turns out that this isn’t actually the case.

Women are looking for attractive partners, and this means more to them than any combination of desirable character traits. These are the findings of a new study released this week in Springer’s Journal Evolutionary Psychological Science.

The research was led by Madeleine Fugère of Eastern Connecticut State University, and it found that just about every girl and her mother prefer handsome men over less good looking nice guys.

The team assessed the mate preference of 80 women between the ages of 15 and 29 years old, and one or both of their parents. Only data collected from the 61 mothers present were analysed for the study.

The women were shown colour photographs of three male targets varying in attractiveness. Each photograph was paired with one of three personality profiles. The “respectful” profile included the traits “respectful, trustworthy, and honest;” the “friendly” profile included being “friendly, dependable, and mature;” and the “pleasing” profile meant that the man was “of a pleasing disposition, ambitious, and intelligent.”

The women had to rate the photographs and the character descriptions according to how attractive they found the man, how favourably they rated his personality, and whether they’d consider the person as a dating partner for themselves or their daughters.

The younger women in the study only wanted a handsome man – regardless of personality traits such as how trustworthy, friendly, respectful or intelligent he happens to be.

Their mothers still preferred the more attractive men for their daughters, but they did have lower standards of beauty. However, even when unattractive men possessed the most desirable personality traits, neither mothers nor daughters saw them as potential dating material.

“We conclude that a minimum level of physical attractiveness is a necessity for both women and their mothers,” says Fugére.

Women often believe that they go for personality first, but in reality they are more likely to choose men who are physically attractive. As Fugére puts it, “When a range of attractiveness levels is presented, physical attractiveness takes priority over other characteristics.”

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