Smiling Happy Days

Sexual attractiveness study shows women do indeed prefer the prideful bad boys

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Here's an easy one. Would you rather date The Fonze or Richie Cunningham? A new University of British Columbia study asked just that. The answer for most women? The Fonze.

The study showed the women found smiling men the least sexually attractive, while men found smiling women the most sexually attractive.

"Men and women respond very differently to displays of emotion, including smiles."

Professor Jessica Tracy of University of British Columbia's Dept. of Psychology observed that while showing a happy face is essential to friendly social interactions, including sexual attraction, few studies have actually examined whether a smile is sexually attractive. 

In a series of studies, 1,000 adult participants rated the sexual attractiveness of people in pictures. These pictures were three categories: happy, smiling people, prideful looking people and shamed looking people. 

Alec Beall, a University of British Columbia psychology graduate student and study co-author adds the study looks at first impressions and sexual attraction.

The question was not would this person make a good life partner. The study was trying to get a gut sexual reaction to the picture. Beall goes on to say that previous studies found positive emotional traits and a nice personality  very desirable in life partners.

What people find attractive has been shaped by centuries of evolutionary and cultural forces. For example, evolutionary theories suggest females are attracted to male displays of pride because they imply status, competence and an ability to be a good  provider.

Beall observes the prideful expression in men also shows off upper body size and muscularity. Women find muscularity and a highly developed upper body very sexually attractive, according to prior studies.

Interestingly, displays of shame were found to be attractive to both men and women. Tracy supposes this is true because shame shows an awareness of social norms and consiliatory behaviors. This elicits trust and everyone wants a partner they can trust.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 24, 2011
Last Updated:
May 29, 2011