It benefits women but surprisingly had a slightly negative effect on men’s attractiveness.
Being nice makes women more attractive to men, research finds.
Men who think that women are more ‘responsive’ find them more feminine.
Femininity is linked to greater sexual arousal and so to increased attraction for most men.
However, for men, being nice did not make them more attractive to women.
If anything, being nice had a slightly negative effect on the attractiveness of a man to a woman.
Professor Gurit Birnbaum, the study’s first author, explained that:
“Some women, for example, may interpret responsiveness negatively and feel uncomfortable about a new acquaintance who seems to want to be close.
Such feelings may impair sexual attraction to this responsive stranger.
Other women may perceive a responsive stranger as warm and caring and therefore as a desirable long-term partner.”
The study tested different types of responses to the disclosure of a personal problem.
A nice, responsive answer might be: “You must have gone through a very difficult time”
A less nice answer would be: “Doesn’t sound so bad to me”
Professor Birnbaum said:
“We still do not know why women are less sexually attracted to responsive strangers; it may not necessarily have to do with ‘being nice.’
Women may perceive a responsive stranger as less desirable for different reasons.
Women may perceive this person as inappropriately nice and manipulative (i.e., trying to obtain sexual favors) or eager to please, perhaps even as desperate, and therefore less sexually appealing.
Alternatively, women may perceive a responsive man as vulnerable and less dominant.
Regardless of the reasons, perhaps men should slow down if their goal is to instill sexual desire.”
The study was published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (Birnbaum et al., 2014).