Where the Science of Psychology Meets the Art of Being Human

What do Men and Women Find Attractive? Well Here’s One Thing …

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The Trait Men and Women Find Attractive

Well this is good to know … A recent study from the University of Queensland in Australia has found a trait that both men and women find attractive in potential partners.

We tend to speculate about the things men and women find attractive, so anything that can add substance to the conversation is welcome news. 

The trait is non-conformity and it turns out that both men and women think it’s a little bit of wonderful.


The Research. What They Did

Researchers asked 115 undergraduate students to rate the attractiveness of 20 individuals based on their profiles. Participants then had to say whether or not they would be interested in going on a date with the person behind the profile.

Each profile was ‘manipulated’ to emphasise conformity (with statements such as, ‘She is quite happy to go along with what others are doing,’) or non-conformity (‘She often does her own thing rather than fit in with the group.)

The participants were asked which people of the opposite sex they found most attractive. They were also asked to name which members of their own sex they thought would be most attractive to others.

What They Found

So what do men and women find attractive?

Both the men and women were more attracted to the profiles of people who seemed to know their own mind. 

Interestingly though, the men were more accurate in predicting which profiles would be the most attractive to the opposite sex.

Women tended to overestimate the extent to which men would prefer women who followed the crowd, but it turns out that’s not the case. Men prefer women who know their own mind.


To test out whether the finings were unique to the Australian culture, the study was also conducted in Britain, America and India. The results were similar to those found in Australia. Both men and women prefer partners who can think for themselves.

The research dispels a common belief (or maybe a stereotypical belief) that men prefer women who are submissive and agreeable. Of course some men prefer this (just as some women prefer men who are more conforming) but for the vast majority this just isn’t the case. For them, women with their own minds are the ones who get their attention – and the first date.

In a world that can sometimes feel like it presses too hard for prescription and conformity, it’s feels more than a little bit excellent to know that an independent mind is where it’s at to send sparks flying. Thanks science.

(Image Credit: Unsplash | Morgan Sessions)

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We humans are meaning makers. We are storytellers We humans are meaning makers. We are storytellers at heart. It’s how we make sense of each other, our world, and most importantly, ourselves. But big feelings can hijack our stories. When anxiety drives the story, it tells tales of deficiency and lacking, and puts avoidance where courage should be - but we can change that.
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When we get a feeling, we are driven to make sense of it. Anxiety feels awful. It’s meant to. It compels us to listen to, and act on, its story: ‘This is unsafe and you need to act.’ This is how it keeps us safe. When there is no obvious threat, it is understandable that the story that children (or any of us) might put to the feeling is, ‘I feel as though something bad is going to happen, so something bad must be going to happen.’ .
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To change the response, we have to change the story. First, we validate, because that lets them feel us beside them. ‘I can see how worried you are about going to school. It makes so much sense that you want to stay home. I’d want to stay home too if I felt like that.’
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Then, we align with the part of them - and it’s always in them - that wants to be brave and knows they can be. It might be the tiniest whisper, or threadbare, or wilted by anxiety, but it will be there. .
Our job as their important people is to usher that brave part of them into the light, so they can start to feel it too. ‘You have done brave things before my darling, and I know you can do this. I know it with everything in me.’

We humans are meaning makers. We are storytellers at heart. It’s how we make sense of each other, our world, and most importantly, ourselves. But big feelings can hijack our stories. When anxiety drives the story, it tells tales of deficiency and lacking, and puts avoidance where courage should be - but we can change that.
.
When we get a feeling, we are driven to make sense of it. Anxiety feels awful. It’s meant to. It compels us to listen to, and act on, its story: ‘This is unsafe and you need to act.’ This is how it keeps us safe. When there is no obvious threat, it is understandable that the story that children (or any of us) might put to the feeling is, ‘I feel as though something bad is going to happen, so something bad must be going to happen.’ .
.
This is when anxiety grows teeth. It assumes a power it doesn’t deserve, and drive a response that holds brave hearts back. .
To change the response, we have to change the story. First, we validate, because that lets them feel us beside them. ‘I can see how worried you are about going to school. It makes so much sense that you want to stay home. I’d want to stay home too if I felt like that.’
⠀⠀
Then, to change how the story ends, we change how it begins. ‘Anxiety feels awful. It’s meant to - it’s how it keeps you safe from things that are actually dangerous, like dark alleys. But here’s the secret to doing hard things: Anxiety doesn’t only happen when something is dangerous. It also happens when there is something important or meaningful you need to do, like school or trying something new. It happens when you’re about to be brave. This is when you have a decision to make. Is this a time to stay safe, or is this a time to be brave?’
.
Then, we align with the part of them - and it’s always in them - that wants to be brave and knows they can be. It might be the tiniest whisper, or threadbare, or wilted by anxiety, but it will be there. .
Our job as their important people is to usher that brave part of them into the light, so they can start to feel it too. ‘You have done brave things before my darling, and I know you can do this. I know it with everything in me.’
...







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