Men are attracted to intelligent women – but they’re too intimidated to ask them out on dates.
Researchers at the University of Buffalo, California Lutheran University and University of Texas, Austin, conducted a series of studies to see what men find desirable in women and concluded that men find the prospect of dating intelligent women intimidating.
The studies were broken into two parts. In the first study, 105 men were given a hypothetical scenario involving women who either scored higher or lower than the men in a math or English course, and they were asked to imagine the women as a romantic partners.
The men rated the women who scored higher than they did as more desirable, with the study stating that “men formed favorable impressions and showed greater interest in women who displayed more (versus less) intelligence than themselves.”
In the second study, the same group of men were asked if they would date the more intelligent women and, “[Men faced in this real life scenario] distanced themselves more from her, tended to rate her as less attractive, and showed less desire to exchange contact information or plan a date with her.”
The authors of the study cautioned that more experimentation might be needed, but they believe, “feelings of diminished masculinity accounted for men’s decreased attraction toward women who outperformed them.”
The preference for less-intelligent women in real life could be due to other factors. As the authors in the study published in “Quarterly Journal of Economics” noted, “men’s avoidance of more intelligent or ambitious women could be due to fear of rejection by these higher quality women.”
One of the co-authors of the study, Psychology professor Lora Park, said that men who are threatened by a woman’s intelligence may want to improve their own performance in the future or “focus on other areas of your self-concept that may be important to you.” Lombardo agrees: “Take steps to boost your self-worth by focusing on your own values, strengths and contributions to others.”
The results were published in the November 2015 edition of ‘Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin’ and can be viewed here.