Forget the myth of the bad boy, a new study from the University of Guelph says if you want to attract someone you should just be nice, because apparently, being kind makes you sexier.
Researchers asked 800 people about their attitudes about things such as charity, helping strangers, and giving blood. They found the more altruistic someone was the more sex they had.
“This research is the first to show that altruism may translate into real mating success in Western populations, that altruists have more mates than non-altruists,” Pat Barclay, a professor at the University of Guelph, told Canada Journal.
The study, called “Altruism predicts mating success in humans” was published July 18 in the British Journal of Psychology. It was led by Professor Steven Arnocky from Nipissing University in North Bay Ontario who partnered with researchers from the University of Guelph.
But for women who be looking at adding a little sugar to their spice, there is one hitch to the findings.
“It’s a more effective signal for men than for women,” says Barclay.
The popular anonymous columnist Girl on the Net, who has written for publications such as Glamour, The New Statesman and The Guardian has wrestled with the idea of the “bad boy” caricature being more attractive to women often. In a recent column, she took issue with a article from Vice writer Diana Tourjee called “Why Woman Want to F**k Bad Boys” in which Tourjee cited research from Ghent University in Belgium that purported to find that harmful or dangerous behavior made men more appealing sexual partners, at least in the short term.
The Belgian study, called “The Young Male Cigarette and Alcohol Syndrome: Smoking and Drinking as a Short-Term Mating Strategy,” came as no surprise to Tourjee.
“Masculinity is sexually appealing in our society when men are dominant, powerful, and strong,” she says. “Risk-taking becomes just another way for men to demonstrate their power, and women are told to admire that.”
Girl on the Net, however, says there are flaws in the Belgian study and says alarm bells should have gone off early because research around evolutionary psychology, is “notoriously controversial”.
“Any layperson can spot that they don’t support the grand assumptions made by Tourjee that “women prefer bad boys”, because there are complicating factors,” she offers. “Given that casual sex is often considered (or at least presented as) “risky behaviour”, it’s unsurprising that men who are risky in other ways might also be risky in this one. What’s more, my mother tells me alcohol has a slight impact on one’s impulsive decision-making, so the addition of “drinking” to the risk factors could simply imply that drunk people have more casual sex. We’ve gone from Why Women Want To F**k A Bad Boy to Young Males Who Smoke And Drink More Likely To Also Have Casual Sex.”
The real question about the Canadian study is this: were the findings biased by their sample location? Canadians, after all, are consistently ranked as the world’s friendliest people.