A new study out in Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience shows that women across all political and socioeconomic backgrounds are more attracted to liberal 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 less desirable by the group of women in the study. Men who were rated as more attractive in the standalone photo lost attractiveness when paired with conservative statements, but more 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 33-35, both the liberal and conservative women in the study found the more liberal profiles more attractive. The study also found that statements viewed as far-right drew less attention from the women and fell dramatically in ratings. Grant explained the findings were similar 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 on the far opposite end of the spectrum, but less so. Really, what was deemed the most attractive was somewhere around center-left.”
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
The study did provide some surprises on both sides of the political divide. The study’s finding contributed to 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. However, they rated them much higher in attractiveness when the profiles were pared with more liberal statements. Grant joked about the findings, “It’s really no surprise about the rating. Women do love a man in uniform.”
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, and the ratings of the same men did not drop significantly when paired with liberal statements and increased with conservative statements. Grant said, “We’re not really sure what the meaning of that is. I understand that may those more liberal guys were kind of fantasy for the more reserved women – the scuba instructor or something, but the odd part is the lack of reduction in scoring. The liberal photos with conservative statements dropped significantly with liberal women, but the liberal photos with liberal statements didn’t with conservative woman. They kind of broke the modeling.”