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File this under “survival of the dorkiest.”
Finally, a study that explains the mystery of how guys like Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino manage to propagate their, uh, species.
It’s no secret that men are terrible at discerning if a woman is interested in them. Smile at a guy and he’s ready to take you home to meet his parents (or at least his bedroom). But, according to research in the journal Psychological Science, certain factors make men much more likely to think a woman is hot for him, even when she’s not. If you're super pretty, clearly you want him.
Not surprisingly, guys looking for a one-night-stand were more likely to overestimate a woman’s desire for them. Men who ranked themselves high in the looks department (Hello, Jersey Shore!) also assumed every female was sweating him. Meanwhile, guys who were actually good-looking (think Ryan Gosling) -- as rated by women -- did not make the same mistake. Perhaps the most confounding finding, however, was that the hotter the woman, the more likely the man was to think she wanted him. That’s right -- the more attractive she was, the better men ranked their chances with her. Women, on the other hand, uniformly assumed guys were less interested in her than they actually were.
Sigh. Kind of makes you wonder how anyone manages to get together, doesn’t it? Not so fast, say the study’s authors. Apparently, there is some evolutionary magic going on in this crazy, hot mess.
According to the researchers, the hottest of the hot don’t have to overestimate a woman’s interest, because they can get with anyone they want. Guys who aren’t as attractive need to be bolder in order to land a mate. From a passing-on-your-genes standpoint, it makes much more sense for these guys to go after a hot woman and get rejected than to not try at all.
Lead author and Williams College psychologist Carin Perilloux explains it this way: “There are two ways you can make an error as a man. Either you think, ‘Oh, wow, that woman’s really interested in me’ and it turns out she’s not. There’s some cost to that, such as embarrassment or a blow to your reputation. The other error: She’s interested, and he totally misses out on a mating opportunity. That’s a huge cost in terms of reproductive success.”
Sadly, the researchers also believe that the kind of guy who goes for it, even at the risk of being rejected, scores more often, thus passing on his mediocre looks and distended ego to his offspring -- leaving us women with a world more full of Jersey Shore lookalikes than Ryan Gosling dreamboats.