A new study out in Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience shows that women across all political and socioeconomic backgrounds are more attracted to conservative men.
The study used a mock dating app and asked 3,300 single and married women 18-35 to rate men’s attractiveness. The women were shown profile photos of men without any content, a text only profile, and photos with the text profile. The photos and profiles were randomly mixed so a photo was seen with a variety of different profile content. Prior to the study, the women were interviewed to understand their political and social views, then categorized by political stances, age, income level and race.
Both the standalone photos of men dressed more conservatively – suits, western wear, uniforms, etc., and the conservative statements were deems more desirable by the group of women in the study. Men who were rated as less attractive in the standalone photo gained attractiveness when paired with conservative statements, but less attractive with liberal statements.
Sarah Grant, lead researcher for the study said she was surprised by the results. The self-described liberal said, “I hypothesized that given the divided political climate women would be more attracted to statements and views more similar to their own and to men who would be perceived to have those views.” The findings showed the contrary. With the exception of white women 18-21, both the liberal and conservative women in the study found the more conservative profiles more attractive. The study did find, however, that statements viewed as far-right drew less attention from the women and fell dramatically in ratings. Grant explained the findings across the political spectrum. “The level of attraction to men dropped to near universal dismissal on the far-right with statements some would consider offensive or racist, but the ratings also dropped significantly on the far opposite end of the spectrum. Really what was deemed the most attractive was somewhere around center-right.” When asked about the content of the profile statement Grant explained their methodology, “Many more dating apps are drawing on niche groups based on political beliefs. We used this as the basis for the study to identify whether people are truly more attracted to people with similar viewpoints. For the profile statements we used actual statements from social media accounts both dating profiles and more general social media like Facebook and Twitter. We used actual statements posted by men in their social media accounts so the statement and profiles could not be perceived as biased or non-conforming due to subconscious influence of the researchers. What we found is that women aren’t necessarily attracted to men with the same social or political beliefs. We were surprised by the results and I think many of the women taking the survey would be as well.”
Every Woman Loves a Man in a Uniform
Contributing to the study’s finding that women prefer conservatives is the old adage about men in uniforms. Grant explained her findings, “This is where perception and social influence comes into place. While a soldier, businessman or police officer may have very liberal views, the general perception of society is that these men in uniform tend to be more conservative. We found this carried over into the study as well.” When the women were asked to categorize the men on a conservative/liberal scale, women viewed the men in uniforms as more conservative and generally rated them higher than men not in uniform. Grant joked about the findings, “It’s really no surprise about the rating. Women do love a man in uniform.”
The study did provide some surprises on both sides of the political divide. The researchers found that conservative identified women rated the photos of seemingly more liberal men – long hair, tattoos, casual or sloppy dress – higher than other groups in the study, but the ratings of the same men dropped significantly when paired with liberal statements; less so with conservative statements. Grant said, “We’re not really sure what the meaning of that is. Maybe those more liberal guys were kind of fantasy for the more reserved women – the scuba instructor or something, but the fantasy seemed to go away when there was content there.”