For guys looking to catch the eye of a female, research suggests that you don’t smile too much and show a bit of brooding. Canadian researchers have discovered that women find men less attractive if they appear happy and smiling, Reuters reports.
“Men who smile were considered fairly unattractive by women,” said Jessica Tracy, a University of British Columbia psychology professor who directed the study.
Men’s reaction to what is attractive about women is the opposite, “Women who smile are absolutely very attractive. That was by far the most attractive expression women showed,” Tracy said in an interview with Reuters reporter Allan Dowd.
The study published online in the American Psychological Association journal Emotion consisted of more than 1,000 adults that were asked to rate the sexual attractiveness of hundreds of photos of the opposite sex. These pictures showed men and women engaged in various displays of happiness, with broad smiles, pride – raised heads, puffed-out chests, and shame – lowered heads or averted eyes.
Study co-author Alec Beall, a psychology graduate student, told the Telegraph: “We explored first-impressions of sexual attraction to images of the opposite sex. “We did not ask participants if they thought these targets would make a good boyfriend or wife – we wanted their gut reactions on carnal, sexual attraction.”
Other studies suggest that what people find attractive has been shaped by centuries of evolutionary and cultural forces. Evolutionary theories suggest women may be attracted to male displays of pride because they imply status, competence and an ability to provide for a partner and offspring, The Telegraph reports.
Beall added that expressions of pride also exaggerate typically masculine physical features, such as upper body size and muscularity.
The researchers admit they are not sure why men and women reacted differently to smiles. In a man, a big smile may make him appear too feminine or more desperate for sex. The study also adds to the notion that women are attracted to bad boys.
“Women are attracted to guys like James Dean, Edward the vampire. The guys who are flawed, but who know it and are tortured by it,” Tracy said.
A slightly downcast expression of shame is an appeasement gesture that hints at a need for sympathy. Men also found sexual attractiveness in women whose expressions and body language hinted at shame.
The researchers stressed they looked only at initial reactions of sexual attractiveness, and were not recommending men adopt a no-smile policy for a long-term relationship. “When people want a long-term relationship they take much more into account than sexual attractiveness. How nice a person is, is a big thing. So we’re not saying, don’t be a nice guy,” Tracy explained.
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