I’ve gone through a few Country-music-obsessed phases and one of my favorite songs is Toby Keith’s “You Ain’t Much Fun Since I Quite Drinkin'” Having been on endless first dates over the years, there is definitely some truth in those lyrics: A beer or two tends to make what will obviously be a last date a little less painful (I try to be nice about these things and have ducked out the back door mid-date only once).
So along comes a study–and you know how much I love studies–that kind of turns this on its head, into “You’re a Lot More Fun Since You Started Drinking.”
Gari Goetz, a grad student at the University of Texas-Austin, and her colleagues were trying to test a hypothesis that vulnerable looking women would be more attractive to men. So they had 76 college guys look through a series of photographs of women and rate them on attractiveness, whether they would be easy to get into bed or not, and how appealing they’d be as either one-night flings or lifelong partners. All that from photographs.
The results were a little disappointing, but not terribly surprising. Overall, the guys thought that women who looked tired, drunk, immature, or not particularly bright would be easier to get into bed. The also found the dumb, inebriated women sexier and more physically attractive than women who looked smarter and more awake–but only for a short fling.
When it came time to assessing a woman as either long-term girlfriend or wife material, the smarter, more alert women won out.
Even though we’re talking about pure physical attraction, these findings give the impression that most men are superficial. So another grad student, David Lewis, did a follow-up study and tried to determine whether there was a specific type of man who would find vulnerable, dim-witted women attractive. Lewis has a new group of men evaluate the same pictures but also asked questions to determine the men’s personality traits and whether they had a history of one-night-no-commitment sex. The results? Men who were rated as being short on empathy and warmth and who were pretty promiscuous themselves were the most attracted to vulnerable women. Whew. So at least we know that we’re not all superficial when it comes to sex.