First the good news. It’s completely unrelated to what follows, but it is good news. Scientists say “Aliens ‘wouldn’t want to eat or enslave us’ says ET-hunting expert – the first ones we meet will be FAR too civilised.”
So we at least have that going for us. And then we have this Slate article, which asks, “Do Men Find Dumb-Looking Women More Attractive?” The scientific answer is yes.
I was going to critique the study on which this article is based in the usual manner, but after reading the article I gave up hope and went instead to search for good news, any good news, about our race. Hence the headline that aliens won’t, thank the Lord, want to Serve Man.
Anyway, here’s the study which plunged me into the gloomy depths (the “they” are the researchers).
To figure out which sorts of women might be deemed most receptive to a sexual advance or most vulnerable to male pressure or coercion, they asked a large group of students (103 men and 91 women) to nominate some “specific actions, cues, body postures, attitudes, and personality characteristics” that might indicate receptivity or vulnerability [in women].
This pool of WEIRD people came “up with a list of 88 signs that…a woman might be an especially good target for a man who wanted to score.”
The researchers then searched—wait for it—the internet for images of women who might be amenable to be scored upon. “Once they had pictures of women licking their lips, partying, circling their areolas, and all the rest, they cross-checked them with a separate group of students who surmised” that, yes indeedy, these are women who wanted it. Other items: tight clothing, open body posture, and lying back.
The researchers also found a list images that tended to be mood dousers. Such things as: skinny, old, passed out, sad, distressed, and crying.
This is science, folks.
A fresh group of 76 male participants [college students] was presented with [the postive] images in a randomized sequence and asked what they thought of each woman’s overall attractiveness, how easy it would be to “exploit” her using a variety of tactics (everything from seduction to physical force), and her appeal to them as either a short-term or a long-term partner.
There is no word whether beer was served during this “Hot or Not” rating party (the paper unfortunately doesn’t show us the pictures). Good news for the ditzy, though: “pictures of dimwitted- or immature-seeming women, for example, or of women who looked sleepy or intoxicated, did seem to have an effect: Not surprisingly, men rated them as being easy to bed.” And here’s the big “finding”, these easy scores “were also perceived as being more physically attractive than female peers who seemed more lucid or quick-witted.”
“These findings suggest that men are sensitive to cues in a variety of domains when assessing the sexual exploitability of women.”
The authors tied their stunning results (all confirmed with wee p-values) to deep theory in evolutionary psychology. But even the Slate author was able to ask “Do photos of boozed-up young women posted on the Internet simply happen to depict more physically attractive females—ones who’ve dolled themselves up for parties, say—than the sober head shots of those who party less?” She also quipped, “It also seems to me that although men may lower their standards when it comes to judging women for casual sex, even the creepiest, horniest, coldest man has his aesthetic limits.” She forgot to mention that we have other “research” that demonstrates that these limits are an inverse function of blood alcohol content.
Perhaps the best news is that new research is called for: “investigating men’s approach likelihood or arousal level when exposed to women displaying cues to exploitability will shed light on the behavioral output that results from this attraction.” Right on.
Even better, “Future work also could profitably examine men’s conscious awareness of the relationship between perception of cues to exploitability and the sexual attraction they experience, as well as the potentially conflicting emotions they experience when presented with the opportunity to engage in a sexually exploitative strategy.”
I think that means, stated in plain English, that men probably know what they’re looking for and that they might sometimes feel badly about it.