Women’s preferences for men are more influenced by whether they are altruistic than good looking, a new study has found.
To establish this scientists showed women photographs of different men accompanied by a description of how they would behave (altruistically or not) in certain situations – for instance whether or not they would buy a homeless person a sandwich or help a drowning child.
The results showed that women preferred altruistic men, especially when it came to long term relationships.
This preference interacted directly with a preference for physical attractiveness; being both attractive and altruistic made a man more desirable than “the sum of the two desirable parts”.
Though the ideal man would be both attractive and altruistic, the study showed that for long term relationships the women preferred men who were just altruistic over men that were just attractive – meaning that altruism is actually a more valuable quality than physical attractiveness even when taken on its own.
When it came to short time relationships, attractive, non-altruistic men ranked slightly higher than unattractive altruistic men – but the most popular choice was still a man who had both qualities.
“These findings make a substantial contribution to our understanding of the role of altruistic behavior in human mate choice by including the previously unexplored additional variables of physical attractiveness.” The study, published in the journalist Evolutionary Psychology concluded.
“Overall, the results provide further support for the view that altruism acts as an important trait in mate choice, particularly for long term relationships.”