Intelligence Is Sexy, Except To Men

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What we say we want and what we actually want can differ remarkably, particularly when the "we" in question refers to the male gender. At least according to six papers published in the November issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. The scholars sought to determine how psychological distance and intelligence affected men's attraction to a woman. What they found overall was that men expressed greater attraction toward theoretical women (not present) who outperformed them in terms of intelligence. But when the more intelligent woman was physically present, men showed less attraction toward her. So, a hypothetical woman who was smarter than the male in question was deemed as a good candidate for a date, but when face-to-face with said woman, romantic interest dwindled. The authors speculate that male participants' concept of their own masculinity may have contributed toward decreased interest in a woman who was more intelligent. It was found that men felt less masculine when they spoke face-to-face with a woman they perceived to be more intelligent, and more masculine when the smart woman was only imaginary. While six studies, a satisfactory sample size of participants, and lots of fancy statistical analyses appear to give the conclusions some real clout, the limitations are numerous. The participants were all undergraduate males who enrolled with the incentive of receiving college credit for participation - which means mostly psychology students. We would hazard a guess that most of these college kids are somewhat intelligent - after all they got to college, right? But, one has to wonder how enlightened they are. College years tend to be one's of self-discovery, and deciding future wants and wishes. It's a dynamic period in young life where we may like something one day and totally hate it the next. Experimentation is encouraged and sense of self is constantly being evaluated internally. In other words, what accounts for the inherently fickle nature of the selected participants? In the studies that looked at psychologically near or face-to-face interactions, there was no mention of what the chosen female looked like. Was she tall or short, slim or curvy, long hair or short hair? There is no way to control for the possibility that a woman who may have been pictured as an intelligent tall blonde may have shown up as a petite brunette. Intelligence was not the issue if the young man liked curvy blondes. Was the same female candidate used for each interaction studied? The authors must know but it is not mentioned. Though previous research has suggested that men value intelligence as a favorable trait in a prospective partner, and the psychologists suggest otherwise, these limitations make the work too unreliable to overturn the existing findings. One expert on the matter, Dr. Christine B. Whelan, author of "Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women", provided perspective: "Ladies, do you usually take dating advice from a handful of 18-year-old boys? No? Then ignore the so-called research that men don t want to date smart women. Instead, look at what actually happens: National marriage rates show that the more education you have, the more likely you are to marry."