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The Anatomy of a Hot Dad

When we first opened the e-mail from iVillage.com, with “2nd Annual Hot Dads Contest” in the subject line, we (as fathers) couldn’t help but be flattered. Reality quickly kicked in, however, when we read the actual message and learned that iVillage was hoping that ScienceOfRelationships.com could spread the word about their Hot Dads contest (still flattering, but not quite so ego-boosting). After dusting off our egos, we did what any good relationship scientist would do: we began to wonder what makes a “Hot Dad” hot? In other words, when iVillage.com readers comb through the hundreds of photos of men on the site, how are they judging relative dad-hotness? Here's what science says:

a) A Fit and Healthy Look— Hot guys are healthy guys. One very powerful cue to a man’s health is his facial symmetry. To test this, draw a straight line down his face: do all of his bits and pieces line up? Yes= healthy; No= creepy/sickly. Health cues matter because healthy guys are likely to have healthy children. And healthy dads are far more capable of showing up and being a part of their kids’ lives (because, well, they’re alive longer).

b) Status & Resources— If we have learned anything from watching commercials, a touch of grey makes a man appear distinguished. How many women would pass on George Clooney as her baby-daddy just because he’s on the wrong side of 50? With age comes the opportunity to accumulate resources and social status, which make men better providers for kids. After all, trips to Disney, braces, and good colleges aren’t cheap. So look for a guy with a nice car, spiffy clothes, and a fat wallet. 

c) Intelligence— Women find intelligent men to be more attractive than unintelligent men. Intelligence breeds opportunity, and opportunity leads to resources and status. Score one for Dr. College Professor, Ph.D. Maybe those glasses, elbow patches, and bow-ties are sexy.

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