When it comes to dating, both sexes prefer a non-conformist partner, a new study finds.
Although most people know a rebellious man is sexy; the results upend the common assumption that men prefer women who play by the rules.
Women in the study guessed that the personality trait of conformity would attract men, but it didn’t.
The study’s authors write:
“Women overestimated how attracted men would be to the conformist women.
People think that men prefer conformist women, but this impression is discrepant from reality.”
For the study researchers asked 115 people to rate a series of profiles for attractiveness.
They were asked to judge how attractive it was to them personally and how attractive it would be to someone else.
Both men and women preferred someone who ‘did their own thing’ rather than someone who ‘went along’ with everyone else.
Not only this, the researchers also found that people were…
“…most attracted to their ex-partners the more they judged their ex-partners to be nonconformist.”
The fact that women thought men would prefer conformity may be a leftover from more sexist times.
In the days when women were supposed to be agreeable, subdued and modest, the tendency to conformity would also have fitted the stereotype.
Thankfully those days are gone.
Sexy personality trait
The researchers didn’t just stick to pen-and-paper questionnaires though.
In another study they had 111 people meet in small groups.
When people rated how attractive the other members of the group were, it emerged that:
“…participants ostensibly in a small-group interaction showed preferences for nonconformist opposite-sex targets, a pattern that was particularly evident when men evaluated women.”
The study’s authors conclude:
“Dating success was greater the more nonconformist the sample was, and perceptions of nonconformity in an ex-partner were associated with greater love and attraction toward that partner.”
The results are published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (Hornsey et al., 2015).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
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