Why Partner Preference Questionnaires Are Bullshit

The vast majority of the “scientific” literature on what women and men prefer in partners is based on questionnaires. A recent study reveals one reason why that is bullshit:

“We found that men preferred women who are smarter than them in psychologically distant situations. Men rely on their ideal preferences when a woman is hypothetical or imagined,” said Lora Park, associate professor in the UB Department of Psychology and the study’s principal investigator. “But in live interaction, men distanced themselves and were less attracted to a woman who outperformed them in intelligence.”

In other words, characteristics that sound good in your head often aren’t quite as attractive in the flesh. And things you think may be unappealing may be just the opposite, particularly when displayed by the “right person” (I’m thinking here of the journal article “The Peculiar Attractiveness of the Mean Friend”).

View All