Pride and Prejudice
Which Emotions Are Perceived as Sexually Attractive
Finally, an explanation for why guys in bands always pull supermodels. A recent study suggests that, generally, women are initially attracted to the proverbial "bad boy"... glad we can blame science for our poor dating choices. Men, however, are initially much less attracted to the "bad girl."
The study was the first to look at how men and women are attracted to displays of happiness, pride, and shame. Participants ranked the attractiveness of images of the opposite sex, which displayed either happiness (as marked by a smile), pride (as marked by an inflated chest or a raised head), or shame (as marked by a lowered head and averted eyes).
It turned out that the emotions men find attractive are very different from those women consider attractive. Men were more attracted to women who displayed happiness, and least attracted to women who looked proud or confident. Women, on the other hand, were most attracted to men who looked proud or ashamed, and least attracted to men who looked happy. Since the study was based on initial sexual attraction, these findings have no bearing on who men and women thought would make a good long-term partner. But who the hell goes out on a first date with someone because they "look like a good long-term partner"?
Some argue that these findings can be viewed in an evolutionary light--females are supposed to be attracted to male pride because it would imply status and the ability to be a good provider. Smiling, on the other hand, has been studied as a signal of submission, which does not align with the traditional dominant male role, but could explain why men were attracted to smiling women.
Lastly, shame has been studied as a signal of the willingness to mollify others or be conciliatory. The desire to adhere to social norms and appease others could be a signal of a trustworthy partner, which may be the reason why both genders found displays of shame to be attractive. Guess the "walk of shame" is actually kinda hot.
An interesting side note to the study is that women appear to be harsher critics of attractiveness: Men ranked women more attractive overall than women ranked men. And that's not at all surprising... considering we look with our actual eyes instead on our one-eyed monster friends.
Source: University of British Columbia. Happy guys finish last, says new study on sexual attractiveness. EurekaAlert! Retrieved from http://www.eurekalert.org/ pub_releases/2011-05/uobc-hgf052011.php