Further scientific evidence emerged today that a commonly-held viewpoint is actually true. At least in some respects, women as a group simply don't agree on what they want: it's fairly useless therefore for men seeking female companionship to strive towards an ideal of attractiveness. By contrast, male psychology is simple and ladies can be assured of success if they conform to a set standard.
“Men agree a lot more about who they find attractive and unattractive than women agree about who they find attractive and unattractive,” says Dustin Wood, assistant professor of psychology at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.
Wood and his co-author Claudia Brumbaugh asked 4,000 people aged 18 to 70+ to rate photos of the opposite sex for attractiveness. It seems that the chaps' judgement was "based primarily around physical features", and almost all went for the same kind of woman - those judged to be primarily "thin" and "seductive", according to Wood.
Meanwhile the female respondents' desires in a chap were much harder to predict, illustrating the more complicated - even frustratingly random - nature of their mental processes. The ladies showed "some preference" for subjects confusingly described by them as "thin" but also "muscular", but in general it was impossible to predict who they would go for.
“These differences have implications for the different experiences and strategies that could be expected for men and women in the dating marketplace," says Wood. The prof thinks that the possibly excessive amount of time spent by modern women becoming as thin and seductive as possible is actually well worthwhile, as simple-minded men will almost all react positively to the results.
No such difficult but obvious route is open to the chaps, however, as it's largely impossible to tell what ladies in general are after. Even worse, should a chap manage to secure one of the coveted seductive-rated ladies, he "may need to invest more time and energy in... guarding his mate from other potential suitors, given [she is] likely to be found attractive by many other men".
Ladies reap additional benefit from their random approach to finding men attractive, as in general they don't face competition - their possible rivals probably favouring something quite different in the boyfriend line than what they may have snared themselves.
Bad news all round for the romantically-challenged gentleman, then. But Wood and Brumbaugh offer a small useful crumb of guidance. While youngsters of both sexes will often go for a smouldering scowly type, as time goes by even the unpredictable ladies - as well as the ageing chaps - start to prefer a smiling face.
Full pop-psych newsgumble-o-rama from Wake Forest U here. ®