The four traits people look for in a partner are kindness, easygoingness, intelligence and physical attractiveness, new research finds.
In a twist on these familiar findings, though, people can have too much of some these traits, the psychologists also found.
People who are too intelligent and too easygoing are less attractive.
It may be because intelligence can make other people insecure and being too easygoing might be a bad sign.
Dr Gilles Gignac, the study’s first author, explained:
“Previously published research suggests that elevated levels of intelligence may incite feelings of insecurity in some people, which may reduce desirability.
Correspondingly, exceptional easygoingness may be viewed as an indication of a lack of confidence or ambition.”
The conclusions come from a survey of 383 people in Australia.
They were asked to rank the most desirable characteristics in a partner.
Once a potential partner was in the top 10% for IQ or easygoingness, they became less attractive.
However, being in the top 10% for physical attractiveness and kindness was not detrimental, although desirability ratings did not increase at this level.
Dr Gignac said:
“So, on average, there doesn’t appear to be any gain to being exceptionally kind or exceptionally physically attractive in the context of attracting a romantic partner.”
A minority of people are especially interested in the highly intelligent, the research showed.
However, the research could not pinpoint what type of people these were.
It certainly wasn’t more intelligent people who preferred other more intelligent people — which is what you would expect.
Dr Gignac said:
“This result is surprising, considering there is assortative mating for intelligence that indicates a correlation between people in a romantic relationship having similar intelligence levels.”
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
The study was published in the British Journal of Psychology (Gignac & Starbuck, 2018).