Study shows persistence pays off in the mating game

December 23, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- A new study co-authored by a University of Texas at Austin psychology professor suggests that self-deception may help men succeed in the mating game, while women will benefit more from effective communication.

David Buss, professor of psychology, and psychology graduate student Judith Easton, both of The University of Texas at Austin, conducted the research with Williams College psychologist Carin Perilloux, senior author of the study. The findings will appear in an upcoming issue of , a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science.

The research, conducted at The University of Texas at Austin, involved 103 female and 96 male undergraduates who were asked to rate their own attractiveness on a scale of 1 to 7 before participating in a "speed-meeting" exercise in which the students had three-minute, one-on-one conversations with five members of the opposite sex. After each conversation, they rated the other person's and perceived . Participants were also assessed for their level of desire for a short-term with each person with whom they interacted.

Men looking for a "quick hook-up" were more likely to overestimate a woman's desire for them, researchers found. Men who thought of themselves as attractive also overestimated a woman’s desire for them. Indeed, the more attractive the woman was to the man, the more likely he was to overestimate her interest in him.

Men who were actually considered attractive according to the women's rankings did not seem to have this discrepancy in evaluating the situation. Interestingly, women tended to show a bias opposite that of most men — they consistently underestimated men's sexual interest in them.

In terms of human evolution, it is likely that ancestral men who overestimated their appeal to women and pursued them — even at the risk of being rebuffed — were more likely to reproduce and pass along this tendency to "over perceive" to genetic heirs.

The research suggests that women should be as communicative and clear as possible, while men should consider that the more attracted they are to a woman, the more likely they are wrong about her interest.

Explore further: Psychologists find link between ovulation and women's ability to identify heterosexual men

Related Stories

All it takes is a smile (for some guys)

December 13, 2011

Does she or doesn't she...? Sexual cues are ambiguous, and confounding. We—especially men—often read them wrong. A new study hypothesizes that the men who get it wrong might be the ones that evolution has favored. ...

Recommended for you

Serious research into what makes us laugh

November 24, 2015

More complex jokes tend to be funnier but only up to a point, Oxford researchers have found. Jokes that are too complicated tend to lose the audience.

Psychologists dispute continuum theory of sexual orientation

November 19, 2015

Washington State University researchers have established a categorical distinction between people who are heterosexual and those who are not. By analyzing the reported sexual behavior, identity and attraction of more than ...

Babies have logical reasoning before age one, study finds

November 18, 2015

Human infants are capable of deductive problem solving as early as 10 months of age, a new study by psychologists at Emory University and Bucknell finds. The journal Developmental Science is publishing the research, showing ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

3.9 / 5 (7) Dec 23, 2011
The problem with this research is that prior to the last few centuries nearly all children were born from arranged marriages. This the case in hunter-gatherer and agrarian societies. Factors affecting how parents rate prospective partners for their offspring are moreover likely to have shaped our genes than those affecting speed dating.
1 / 5 (2) Dec 23, 2011
Luck seems to pay off more than anything. Persistence (at least, for some of us) seems to be futile.
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 23, 2011
So in other words, despite the court order, RyggTard should continue to send those boxes of chocolates, and contine make those late night phone calls to Sarah Palin.
not rated yet Dec 23, 2011
The problem with the first message is that the article talks only about attraction and how people rate their attractiveness and how they rate others' attraction to us.

Of course there are many other factors, including genetics, at work in selecting a partner. The authors of the study only looked at one of the factors.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.