We’ve all heard that nice guys finish last, but a recent study showed us that similarly, happy men aren’t the type females swoon over.
The University of British Columbia study was published in the American Psychological Association journal Emotion, and it is the first to explore and report a significant gender difference in the attractiveness of smiles.
The researchers found that women find the brooding or bad boy male more attractive than a happy, smiling man. But that women who were smiling and happy were found to be rated the most attractive by men.
The study’s findings don’t seem groundbreaking except they point out a glaring contradiction. The researchers noted in a report by CTV.ca that “in almost every social interaction – including those involving sexual attraction – smiling is actually considered essential. But when it comes to first impressions, women seem to prefer men who look either sullen or boastful."
The researchers conducted a series of studies involving more than 1,000 adult participants. In the studies, the participants were asked to rate the sexual attractiveness of hundreds of images of the opposite sex engaged in universal displays of happiness (broad smiles), pride (raised heads, puffed-up chests) and shame (lowered heads, averted eyes).
“The study found that women were least attracted to smiling, happy men, preferring those who looked proud and powerful or moody and ashamed. In contrast, male participants were most sexually attracted to women who looked happy, and least attracted to women who appeared proud and confident,” according to a news release on the study.
Alec Beall, a UBC psychology graduate student and study co-author reminded readers that their study aimed to document first impressions and initial sexual attractiveness, not what traits men and women look for in a mate for the long-term.
"We were not asking participants if they thought these targets would make a good boyfriend or wife – we wanted their gut reactions on carnal, sexual attraction," Beall said.
Beall said previous studies have found positive emotional traits and a nice personality to be highly desirable in relationship partners.