October 03, 2008

Women and intelligent men

There are three interesting findings of this study:
  • Women don't like intelligent men only for long-term relationships (because of their presumably good genes and ability as providers) but for short-term relationships as well.
  • Women's ratings of men's intelligence corresponded to the men's cognitive test scores, indicating that short videos are sufficient to figure out a lot about a person's smartness.
  • Looks still trump intelligence for attractiveness. According to a related New Scientist story: "But some things never change. Looks were still a much more powerful predictor of sex appeal than brains. "Women are still going for the hunk," Prokosch says. "If you had an option to pick from five different people, you would pick the most attractive one."

Evolution and Human Behavior doi: doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2008.07.004

Intelligence and mate choice: intelligent men are always appealing

Mark D. Prokosch et al.


What role does a man's intelligence play in women's mate preferences? Selecting a more intelligent mate often provides women with better access to resources and parental investment for offspring. But this preference may also provide indirect genetic benefits in the form of having offspring who are in better physical condition, regardless of parental provisioning. Intelligence then may serve as both a cue of a mate's provisioning abilities and his overall heritable phenotypic quality. In the current study, we examined the role of a man's intelligence in women's long- and short-term mate preferences. We used a rigorous psychometric measure (men's WAIS scores) to assess intelligence (the first study to our knowledge), in addition to women's subjective ratings to predict mate appeal. We also examined the related trait of creativity, using women's ratings as a first step, to assess whether creativity could predict mate appeal, above and beyond intelligence. Finally, we examined whether preferences for intelligent and creative short-term mates shifted according to a woman's conception risk. Multilevel modeling was used to identify predictors of mate appeal. Study participants (204 women) assessed the long- and short-term mate appeal of videos of 15 men with known measures of intelligence performing verbal and physical tasks. Findings indicate that both intelligence and creativity independently predicted mate appeal across mating contexts, but no conception-risk effects were detected. We discuss implications of these findings for the role of intelligence and creativity in women's mate choices.



Anonymous said...

I have thought about this question: women and intelligent men. Even today I pondered it, coincidentally. I think it's a social misconception about the type of intelligence women are looking for in men.

Women do prefer intelligent men for various reasons: they are generally more socially skilled; they make more money and thus are better providers; they are generally better groomed; they often have a sense of humor that appeals to them, etc. These comments, though, need qualification.

When a woman meets a man, she is not thinking: "What's his IQ?" She subconsciously sizes the man up based on his wit (she will test him and see if he can give a sharp retort), his style (if he dresses well and looks cool, it at least shows social intelligence), his sense of humor, and so on. Indirectly, based on the stories he tells her and the way he carries himself, she will see where he stands socially (I think, though, that attempting to impress the woman IN ANY WAY will be detected by them, but that's another topic).

When women say they like intelligent men, some men take this out of context and think women will get impressed if they are able to discuss haplogroups or quantum mechanics (not that these are bad things to learn; I think it's cool when you are passionate about something). These same men will then be apt to talk about politics or deep philosophical questions on a date, and they will get frustrated when women don't respond to that.

What women really mean, I think, is that they want a man who is socially intelligent, funny without trying to impress, and can converse about a range of topics they can relate to and find interesting. Beyond a certain threshhold, say an IQ of 110-125, IQ carries diminishing returns, IMO. So this is why computer programmers and engineers (God bless them) often struggle with women.

There are so many variables to attraction, that one can write a book about it. There are men out there who challenge all of our assumptions -- one guy I know has few close friends, makes little income, isn't tall or overly muscular, and pulls 1 or 2 new women a week. On the other hand, I have met major multimillionaires who can only land a 9 or 10 by paying for it.

Try explaining that scientifically!

Maju said...

I'd like to read on "men and intelligent women"...

Dean said...

Physical appearance is always central to attraction. Good looks eliminates much effort in meeting romantic partners. A person without good looks must work harder to attract a romantic partner.

A person with good looks can walk into a room, for example, not say much, and walk out of a room with someone.

Looks are probably easier to change than personality.

AG said...

The study has some flaw. Who are those women? Intelligent men often attract intelligent women.

If these women are working class average women, then they certainly prefer similar working class men with hot looks.