The good news is the trait has nothing to do with appearance. And it’s not something a guy either has or doesn’t. Instead, it’s a quality that can be learned and developed. Curious what it is that women find so attractive in a potential partner?
Doing good for another person
So were a group of US researchers. Studies had already shown that women find a trait called altruism attractive in a man. Altruism basically means doing good for another person. A guy who is altruistic will go out of his way to help others, even if doing so is risky or has consequences for himself.
Even though the researchers knew that women found altruism attractive, there hadn’t been any studies comparing guys who were altruistic do-gooders to those who were just plain good looking.
Would women find selfless guys more attractive than hunks?
To find out, the researchers enrolled just over 200 heterosexual women in their study. Each woman was shown several pairs of pictures. The pairs consisted of two guys: one who was unarguably a hunk and another who was decidedly less attractive.
Next, the women read a short scenario. Then they learned that one of the guys behaved altruistically in the scenario, while the other guy decided not to help. Sometimes the hunk was the do-gooder, while other times it was the less-attractive man. Afterwards, the women were asked to rate how desirable each of the two guys was either as a long-term partner or for a short affair or one-night stand.
If you’re the kind guy who goes out of his way to help others, you’re in for good news: altruism is indeed sexy in a potential partner, the study confirmed.
Guys who make it a point to help others actually become more desirable in the eyes of women. This is true if they’re considered handsome to begin with. But it’s also very much the case if they’re not.
Selfishness: not attractive
What’s more, being helpful trumps looking good. In the study, less-attractive do-gooders were rated as more desirable than selfish hunks for long-term partners.
In fact, according to the researchers, if a guy can either be handsome or a do-gooder, the latter wins out when it comes to getting the girl, in a long-term relationship anyway.
Source: Farrelly, D., Clemson, P., & Gutherie, M. (2016). Are Women’s Mate Preferences for Altruism Also Influenced by Physical Attractiveness? Evolutionary Psychology, Jan-Mar 2016:1-6.