herald

Wednesday 11 December 2019

Why ugly men believe pretty women are interested in them

SOME men can get by on a wink and a smile -- but those with less chiselled features make up for it with misguided optimism about their own appearance.

The study could help explain the mystery of why so many men think women are interested in them when they are not, a study claims.

Some men are able to snare a partner far more attractive than them through relentless persistence and overblown belief in their own sex appeal.

Scientists think this may be down to an evolutionary trait which tricks men into overestimating the value of their looks to prevent them from missing a mating opportunity.

This over-confidence causes them to try their luck with a greater number of women because they are less likely to see them as unattainable.

The study, published in the Psychological Science journal, could help explain the mystery of why so many men think women are interested in them when in fact they are not, researchers said.

Making moves on a greater number of women, some of whom are better-looking than them, raises the men's risk of an embarrassing knock-back but also reduces the chance of missing out on a partner.

Only the most attractive men do not have an inflated view of their desirability -- likely because they are so good looking they do not need to, according to an experiment by US-based Williams College psychologists.

Dr Carin Perilloux, who led the study, said: "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. He misses out on a mating opportunity. That's a huge cost in terms of reproductive success."

Researchers put 96 male and 103 female students through an exercise where participants spent three minutes talking to each other.

Before the exercise started they were asked to rate their own attractiveness, and after each chat with a potential partner, they ranked that person's appearance and how sexually interested they believed the person was.

The experiment showed that men who mistakenly believed they were attractive were more likely to overestimate how interested women were in them.

The researchers wrote: "Essentially, men who rated themselves high on attractiveness were more likely to over-perceive women's interest. The more attractive they actually were to women, however, the more likely they were to under-perceive."

The study also suggested that women underestimate how interested men are in them, possibly to help deflect unwanted sexual interest or accusations of promiscuity.

hnews@herald.ie

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