As a painfully average-looking man, I’ve often had to rely on my personality to get dates. It worked – I’m engaged to a woman that’s beyond beautiful – but I’ve always been a bit confused as to how that happened. A new study published in Royal Society Journal says that attractiveness may not be the most important thing for a man, after all.
Dr. Christopher Watkins from the University of Abertay, conducted a series of tests to study the effects that a person’s creativity had on people’s perceptions of attractiveness.
Subjects were shown various images of men and women’s faces accompanied by text presented as written by those pictured. The corresponding narratives were an interpretation of the surrealist painting ‘The Lovers’ by Magritte, which features a man and woman kissing with cloth bags covering their faces.
The following was one of the creative texts shown to participants.
“It conjures images of how single people can spend hours upon hours on dating websites scrolling through images of people and judging their physical appearance over substance…it also made me think that even if you are in a relationship with someone, perhaps you don’t know who this person really is.”
This is an example of the less creative text.
“This is a picture of a man and woman, who appear to be kidnapped somewhere, in their home perhaps … are they being held hostage?”
Watkins found that, regardless of the judge’s gender, creativity and facial attractiveness had independent effects on men’s overall attractiveness. In other words, women found a creative man as attractive as one with conventional good looks. The impact of a woman’s creativity, however, wasn’t nearly as distinguished.
“Collectively, across three experiments, these findings suggest that creativity may compensate for putative cues for lower biological ‘quality’ and that the benefits of creativity to social groups more generally enhance attraction to creative men, and creative men and women,” Watkins wrote.
Strangely, creativity among attractive men delivered less of an impact among participants. The less attractive a male subject was perceived, the more influence his creativity had on his overall attractiveness.
These results reflect previous research that found men were seen as more attractive when they held a guitar. The research, published in the journal Psychology of Music, sent a 20-year-old man to the mall where he was tasked with approaching random women, complimenting them and asking these strangers for their number. The variable in this experiment was the item he carried, which included: a guitar, a gym bag and empty-handed.
When holding the guitar, 31 percent of women gave the millennial her number, compared to the nine percent who coughed up their number when this same man carried the gym bag. The gym bag managed to perform even worse than when he had nothing at all. So even if you aren’t all that creative, all you have to do give off the impression that you are.
So either be creative or carry a guitar. Just leave your gym bag at home.