We have all probably heard the phrase “nice guys finish last” some time in our lives. Oftentimes people, or straight guys, believe that straight girls want hot, “bad boys” over the average “nice guy.” As someone in a long-term relationship with a very kind guy, this kind of idea absolutely frustrates me. Fortunately, researchers at the University of Worcester have strong evidence against the old adage.
Their 2015 study on altruism and attractiveness revealed interesting results on how straight women choose relationship partners. Unsurprisingly, it’s more complex than just “one type of guy always gets the girl.” It seems that women prefer different traits depending on what kind of relationship they want.
How The Study Works
In this study, researchers asked 202 straight women to compare photograph series of more attractive men to less attractive men. The scientists also gave the subjects different scenarios with each photo. For example, one scenario would show an unattractive man helping a homeless person and another would show an attractive man walking past a homeless person, or vice versa. The women would then rate how attractive they found each man. They would either rate them in terms of a potential long-term relationship or a short-term relationship.
Overall, women preferred men who were kinder, or more altruistic, regardless of how attractive that man was. The results indicated that women preferred men who were altruistic over men who are just attractive, particularly for long-term relationships.
However, women did not prefer altruistic men at all for short-term relationships. In fact, the results imply that altruism is an undesirable trait when it comes to seeking short-term relationships. The study doesn’t venture to explain why this might be. One reason could be that women who want short-term relationships don’t want any reason to be attached to their partner. They likely want to remain unattached and want a certain emotional distance.
So Nice Guys Sometimes Finish Last?
As interesting as the research is, the data needs to be expanded. A sample of 202 straight women is too small to draw any conclusions on the world population. The observations in this study might also be a local phenomenon. Other researchers across the world should try and reproduce this experiment and see if they get similar results.
In the end, this is a good step forward to debunking the “nice guys finish last” ideology. The woman you want to date might not want attachment. She might go for some “bad boy” because she doesn’t plan to stick with him. When it comes to long-term connections, women definitely want to stick it out with someone kind. Personally, I know I fit that data point already! What do you think about the research? Is it eye-opening? Or does it confirm your fears about dating and rejection?
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Farrelly, D., Clemson, P., & Guthrie, M. (2016). Are Women’s Mate Preferences for Altruism Also Influenced by Physical Attractiveness? Evolutionary Psychology,14(1), 147470491562369. doi:10.1177/1474704915623698