Past research has found that women tend to be less attracted to men who are shorter than themselves. Now, a new study suggests that women are also less attracted to men who are dumber than themselves.
The findings appear in the journal Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences.
“The co-authors and I each have a general interest in Evolutionary Psychology. Given this interest we are also interested in mating; especially how males and females may look for different characteristics in a mate,” said study author Curtis S. Dunkel of Western Illinois University.
The researchers examined data collected from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, a long-term study which has tracked about 10,000 men and women from 1957 to 2011. They found that a woman’s physical attractiveness predicted her husband’s intelligence. In other words, more physically attractive women tended to have more intelligent husbands.
In addition, physical attractiveness was even more strongly associated with a husband’s intelligence among women who were more intelligent.
A man’s physical attractiveness, on the other hand, did not predict the intelligence of his wife.
“The results of the study suggest that intelligence may be slightly more important to women when choosing a long-term mate. More specifically, a woman may look for a man who is slightly more intelligent than she is and she uses her physical attractiveness to secure a more intelligent husband,” Dunkel told PsyPost.
The study includes some caveats.
“Most importantly the effect size was very small,” Dunkel said, meaning there was a large overlap between the groups of men and women.
“It is also important to keep in mind that the sample was made up of US Midwesterners born in the mid-20th century,” he added.
“We would also predict that more intelligent men would secure more physically attractive mates and that this would not hold for women, but we were unable to test this hypothesis.”
The study, “Cross-Trait Assortment for Intelligence and Physical Attractiveness in a Long-Term Mating Context“, was authored by Curtis S. Dunkel, Todd K. Shackelford, Joseph L. Nedelec, and Dimitri van der Linden.