Although I don’t do trigger warnings, you may want to skip this item. One of the few consolations to shy men with intellectual aspirations was the thesis that women would be tempted to mate with them on the basis of intellect alone. Of course, men were still required reveal their intellects in some way, but telling jokes was judged sufficient. Personally, I cannot recall this ever working. “A friend, seeing Franz Kafka sitting alone at a cafe table, walked across the hall to him and said “Franz, I am sitting with some friends. Would you like to join us?” “No” replied Kafka.”
The young women on whom I attempted this approach would smile appreciatively, and then dance with someone else, usually of taciturn demeanour and singularly lacking in social skills. Of course I would not dream of suggesting that this was a shallow and heartless response. Perhaps the music was too loud, and the joke could not be heard.
So, what happens when you test the hypothesis?
MALE GENERAL INTELLIGENCE (G) DOES NOT INCREASE FEMALE SEXUAL ATTRACTION
Lars Penke, Ruben C. Arslan, and Juliane Stopfer1 1 Georg August University Göttingen, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Human general intelligence (g) has been hypothesized to be an indicator of genomic mutation load and under sexual selection for indirect genetic benefits (‘good genes’ for the offspring), implying that high g should be sexually attractive. People clearly report preferences and assortatively mate for intelligence, but these effects can be due to direct phenotypic benefts of g and social homogamy. Only one study (Prokosch et al., 2009) with methodological limitations has directly tested if higher male intelligence increases female initial sexual attraction.
We tested 88 young men (age 19 to 31 years) on six psychometric intelligence subtests and two measures of information processing speed, from which a g factor was extracted, and on the Big 5 personality dimensions. Standardized photos, voice recordings and videotapes of three behavioral tasks (reading headlines, charade, tell-a-joke) were also taken. Sixteen women and 14 men judged the intelligence and personality of the target men based on the videos. A second group of 16 women rated the attractiveness of the men as long-term and short-term partners. A third group of 25 women received information about each men in five steps, with intelligence cues being increasingly present over and above physical attractiveness information, and rated long- and short-term attraction after each step. Both men and women could accurately judge intelligence and extraversion, but not the other Big 5, from the videos. Measured male g had no effect on female short-term attraction, but a small positive effect on long-term attraction, though only after extraversion and independently rated physical attractiveness were controlled. When information on male intelligence was presented incrementally, measured g did not predict changes in female long-term or short-term attraction ratings formed based on physical attractiveness. Overall we found no support for intelligence being sexually attractive to women on first encounters, and limited support that it increases initial impression of the potential as a long-term romantic partner. This is only the second study on the attractiveness of measured intelligence at zero acquaintance, and the first one that assessed a true g factor, had a sufficiently large sample of target men, and tested whether increasing availability of intelligence information alters women’s reported attraction. Taken together with very limited support for an association between g and mutation load in the currently available genomic data, these results cast doubt on the hypothesis that g is an indicator of genetic fitness under ‘good genes’ sexual selection.