Looks are all that matter when women choose a man, say scientists

Beauty really is only skin deep - when women are looking for a man, say scientists.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 6th April 2017, 1:40 pm
Updated Saturday, 8th April 2017, 10:25 pm

Despite claiming they base their decisions on personality and other factors young women are really just as shallow as men and go for looks.

Mothers are less choosy than their daughters - and would pick them a man who is only ‘reasonably’ good-looking.

The younger women, on the other hand, only wanted a handsome man - no matter how respectful, friendly, ambitious or intelligent he may be.

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Professor Madeleine Fugere, of the Eastern Connecticut State University, said when women and their parents are asked their opinion about potential mates they always rate traits like respectfulness and friendliness as more important than physical attractiveness.

She said: ‘Yet, in doing so, they assume that the potential mates at least meet a minimally acceptable standard of physical attractiveness.

‘However, when a range of attractiveness levels is presented, physical attractiveness takes priority over other characteristics.’

The study published in Evolutionary Psychological Science assessed the mate preference of 80 women aged 15 to 29 and 61 of the mothers.

Participants were presented with colour photographs of three male targets varying in attractiveness - and each being paired with one of three profile traits.

The ‘respectful’ profile included the traits ‘respectful, trustworthy, and honest,’ the ‘friendly’ being ‘friendly, dependable, and mature’ and the ‘pleasing’ meant the man was ‘of a pleasing disposition, ambitious, and intelligent.’

The women had to rate the photographs and trait descriptions in response to how attractive they found the man, how favourably they rated his personal description and whether they’d consider the person as a dating partner for themselves or their daughters.

Prof Fugere said physical attractiveness strongly influenced how all the women saw the targets - with the attractive and moderately attractive ones coming up trumps.

Men with the most desirable personality profiles were rated more favourably than their counterparts only when they were also at least moderately attractive.

Even when unattractive men possessed the most desirable traits the mothers and daughters did not view them as potential dating material.

Prof Fugere said: ‘We conclude that a minimum level of physical attractiveness is a necessity for both women and their mothers.

‘When mothers and their daughters have to choose potential partners, they do not look much further than skin deep. Mothers are not quite as picky though, and will choose a man who is only reasonably attractive for their daughters.’

But mothers rated all men - even the ugliest - as potentially desirable partners for their daughters while they did not.

Prof Fugere said: ‘This may signal that unattractiveness is less acceptable to women than to their mothers.

‘It might also mean women and their mothers may have different notions of what constitutes a minimally acceptable level of physical attractiveness - with mothers employing a less stringent standard than their daughters.’

The proverb ‘beauty is only skin deep’ originates from a line by English poet Sir Thomas Overbury in 1613 which read: ‘All the carnall beauty of my wife, Is but skin deep.’