The New Order of Female Attraction

May 2, 2017

ugly men with pretty womenNew research demonstrates that women find creative men very attractive. (H/T: J 2.0) This isn’t exactly a surprise; not-very-talented guys joining bands to get access to girls has been a mainstay of adolescent male dating strategy since the caveman era.

French professor Nicholas Gueguen once conducted a now famous study to find out what kind of men had the greatest chance of getting a getting a date from a random encounter in the street. Here’s the script:

“Hello. My name’s Antoine. I just want to say that I think you’re really pretty. I have to go to work this afternoon, and I was wondering if you would give me your phone number. I’ll phone you later and we can have a drink together someplace.”

Presumably Antoine was attractive, but his results differed depending on what he was carrying.  Holding nothing he succeeded 14% of the time. When holding a sports bag he fared worse, scoring (ha) just 9% of the time. But when Antoine carried a guitar case he got the number from a total stranger 31% of the time!

What’s interesting about the new research is that women found creative men to be just as attractive as handsome ones.

“A creative fellow whose face is rather plain, is just as attractive to women as a handsome man who is not creative.”

Or as the researchers phrased it:

Collectively, across three experiments, these findings suggest that creativity may compensate for putative cues for lower biological “quality.” 😐

The creativity boost was larger for men who were less attractive. (Handsome and creative men totally hit the jackpot.) All of this is in keeping with the fact that women have many attraction cues, while men focus primarily on looks.

In fact, a rather depressing finding was that creativity lowered the appeal of less attractive women, and did nothing to enhance the attraction of good-looking women in two of the three experiments. (In the third, creativity boosted the appeal of both less attractive men and women, and had no effect on the appeal of more attractive men and women.)

Does online dating make this moot?

A recent video at Business Insider features Scott Solomon, an evolutionary biologist at Rice University. He explains how female attraction cues are thwarted by online dating, for the very reason stated above – a platform featuring visual cues favors men because “information for some female attraction cues is not readily available through the internet or apps.” In his view online dating benefits men more than women, evolutionarily speaking.

Men have devised numerous ways to attempt to appeal to women online aside from their looks. I’ve read that because men with dogs do better online, lots of guys borrow dogs from friends for their online profile pics. (Of course, stacking up the deceptions backfires in the end.)

How can you increase your chances of success online given these limitations?

There’s lot of advice out there on how to maximize your online results.

1. Take up physical space in your photos.

Jeremy Dean of PsyBlog shares that expansive body posture doubles success on Tinder and in real life. Lean back, don’t cross your arms or legs. No hunching. Expansive use of space communicates openness and dominance.

“Our research suggests that a nonverbal dominance display increases a person’s chances of being selected as a potential mate.”

Yes, the findings apply to both men and women.

2. Have a friend choose your profile pics for  you.

Research has found that we’re pretty bad at choosing our own profile pics. Here are some examples of least and most attractive photos for various contexts:

It’s amazing how much better the “other selected” photos are! Why did that guy choose a mug shot of himself to appeal to women???

3. Communicate your creative interests.

Although this is likely to help guys more than girls (see above), I think it’s always a good idea to demonstrate that you’re an interesting person. Include pics of yourself doing what you love. If all else fails, a shot of you walking down the Champs-Élysées with a guitar case might help.

What do you think? As a woman do you find that online dating pics don’t offer enough information to establish attraction? As a guy have you found that you do better when you demonstrate creativity? Can creativity be cultivated or is it innate? What do you think?