NEW YORK: For heterosexual men, women who are “nice” are also “attractive,” according to a new study, but the same doesn’t hold true for women meeting a man for the first time.
“Although dating patterns have changed over the years, gender-stereotypic behaviour persists in the dating realm,” said lead author Gurit E. Birnbaum.
“Women are expected to be more caring and concerned about others than are men. Men, in contrast, are expected to take control of the dating environment,” said Birnbaum, of the School of Psychology at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel.
Past studies have also found that for heterosexuals, having gender-typical qualities that line up with your biological sex is generally attractive to the opposite sex, Birnbaum told Reuters Health in an email.
To better understand why niceness in a stranger is a turn-on for men, but less of one for women, the researchers recruited around 100 heterosexual, single students from an Israeli university for each of three stages of the research.
For the first part, students were randomly paired with another of the opposite sex in a laboratory setting. One was prompted to share a story of a recent difficulty, like failing a test, which the students then talked about for about five minutes.
The storyteller later rated the responder’s ability to understand, validate and care for them in the conversation. The storytellers also rated their partner’s sexual desirability and masculinity or femininity.
Men thought a responsive stranger was also more feminine, but women didn’t equate responsiveness with masculinity, the authors report in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
Part two involved a similar conversation between strangers in an online chat scenario, but in this case volunteers were asked to disclose a recent negative experience to an opposite-sex stranger who was actually working from a script of caring or uncaring responses.
Again, for men but not women, a nice partner was perceived as more feminine and also more attractive. Part three built on part two, using the same online chat scenario but adding measures of sexual arousal and desire for a long-term relationship.
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