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Do Nice Guys Really Finish Last?

We often hear tales of women forsaking the nice, kind, dependable man for the brooding, confident bad boy, but do women really prefer bad boys? New research from the University of British Columbia suggests that perhaps they do, at least in terms of sexual attractiveness.1

Across two studies, women rated happy, smiling men as less attractive than proud, confident men. The opposite pattern emerged for men’s ratings of women; happy women were rated as more attractive than proud women. One explanation offered by evolutionary theory is that women have an evolved tendency to choose men who are reliable providers, and pride is often associated with status and success. Reproductively speaking, men are looking for fertile, sexually available partners, and smiling women may seem more approachable and sexually interested.1

But...Nice guys, don’t turn brooding and ominous just yet. Research also suggests that although nice guys are perceived to be less sexually successful, they are more desired for committed relationships. More women choose the nice guy over the bad boy for a date.2

Do you want to see how you would rate the images used in this research? Click here to see the photos used by UBC's Emotions Lab.

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1Tracy, J. L., & Beall, A. (2011). Happy guys finish last: The impact of emotional expressions on sexual attraction. Emotion. DOI: 10.1037/a0022902

2Herold, E. S., & Milhausen, R. R. (1999). Dating preferences of university women: An analysis of the nice guy stereotype. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 25, 333-343.

Amy Muise - Science of Relationships articles | Website/CV
Amy’s research focuses on sexuality, including the role of sexual motives in maintaining sexual desire in long-term relationships, and sexual well-being. She also studies the relational effects of new media, such as how technology influences dating scripts and the experience of jealousy.

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