Stop Smiling Guys and We'll Start Wanting You


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A recent study by the University of British Columbia claims that women find happy guys less sexually attractive than brooding or serious men. This is the first study to show a significant gender difference in the attractiveness of smiles. More than 1,000 heterosexual adult participants rated the attractiveness of hundreds of photos displaying the opposite gender showing happiness, pride, or shame. The results were shocking. Women were least attracted to males appearing happy (smiling) and more attracted to men who appeared both proud/powerful and shameful/moody. Men were most attracted to smiling females and least attracted to women who appeared proud or confident.

This research suggests that while we may think we're becoming less susceptible to the effects of old gender and cultural norms and stereotypes, we may not be. It makes sense that past research associates smiling with a lack of dominance and that females found smiles the least attractive on males. Previous research suggests "happiness is a feminine appearing expression." Smiling is apparently associated with submissiveness and compliance, which is why men might have ranked it most attractive. Pride (puffed out chests, accentuating shoulders) displayed on men is a sign of power and accomplishment, which is why women might be initially sexually attracted to men exhibiting it. However, a man might be intimidated by a woman displaying the same, 'masculine' body language. It was surprising to me that women's initial sexual attraction to photos supported the assumed superiority of the 'strong silent type' of man. Does this mean women want a partner who is broody, moody, or ashamed over a man who is happy? No. I find that this research suggests what is aesthetically appealing to men and women initially might still reflect our culture's traditional gender norms and stereotypes' influences. However, this does not mean that when seeking a partner a woman will seek out a man who is constantly appearing macho and powerful or that a man will pick out the happiest looking woman at a bar to ask out on a coffee date.

While I find the results of the study to be shocking and interesting, I also think more research needs to be done. I wonder what evolutionary or biological mechanisms come into play here. Does male attractiveness based on expression change to women during ovulation or at certain points of their cycle? What age-range did most of the men and women fall under and do married versus single participants vary in their responses? How much does actual attractiveness of the individuals photographed affect people's reactions? Do responses have anything to do with a male's innate desire to be dominant and provide? More needs to be addressed. However, the results didn't convince me to walk around with a goofy smile plastered on my face and I would hope that men never stop smiling altogether.

http://www.publicaffairs.ubc.ca/2011/05/24/happy-guys-finish-last-says-new-study-on-sexual-attractiveness/





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3 Comments

This is very interesting indeed that women see happiness in guys as a turn off. I guess women expect men to not show such emotions and be more serious and tough or something. It definitely would confirm a stereotype that only tough men get the girls and such in our society. But that does not mean I want to change who I am just to appease to the opposite sex, sure it may take me longer to find a significant other, but I would still be true to myself and not someone who is pretending to be someone he is not.

You asked some really stimulating questions at the end of your blog post, all of which I’ve even (unsuccessfully) tried to answer. As for evolutionary mechanisms that come into play, is it possible that since men have always been viewed as serious, strong, tough, less emotional, etc. by their female counterparts, maybe that’s why even today, the sight or even the thought of a giddy, smiling man is unappealing?

I found this article very interesting and the ending actually made me wonder if hormones and ovulation have anything to do with this "attraction". Everyone has heard that girls like "bad boys" so I did some research. In this study it was found that indeed when women are ovulating they tend to be more attracted to men who will potentially be better fathers. However, for some reason the hormones cause women to think that these men are the "sexy" men. I feel like this relates to your blog because usually "sexy" men tend to be mysterious and less open or smiling.

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