According to a new study, movies such as She’s Out of My League may have gotten relationships dynamics right after all.
Researchers from Williams College and the University of Texas found that less attractive men are more likely to overestimate an attractive woman’s interest in them—and as a result, they may actually be more likely to get the girl.
Researchers set up a speed dating experiment between 96 male and 103 female undergraduates.
Participants were asked to rate their own attractiveness (from 1 to 7) and their level of interest in a short-term sexual experience. Then, after speed dating with members of the opposite sex, they were asked to rate the attractiveness of the person they talked to, as well as their own level of interest.
Below were the key findings:
1.) The men who were most likely to overestimate a woman’s interest were those who were looking for a one-night stand.
2.) The less attractive the man, the more he overestimated a woman’s attraction to him.
3.) The men who were actually considered most attractive to the women were in fact less likely to think she was interested.
4.) On the whole, women underestimated men’s interest in them.
What’s Going On?
From an evolutionary perspective, the results make perfect sense. If a man’s goal is to reproduce with as many women as possible, he cannot afford to miss a single sexual opportunity. Overconfidence allows him to cast a wide net and see what he can catch.
Carin Perilloux, the main author of the above study, explained: “Missing a mating opportunity can have enormous implications in terms of reproductive success, whereas a false alarm — thinking she’s interested when she’s not — has consequences that are really minimal from a reproductive standpoint.”
Less attractive men must be the most relentless in their pursuit of a beautiful woman, since they must overcome other shortcomings. These men, researchers theorize, actually win: they have more success when it comes to sleeping with women.
Apparently, there’s something to be said for dogged determination.
What This Means
When it comes to love, is all you need a healthy dose of self-deception?
Well, perhaps not self-deception, but at least a positive self-image. Our belief in our own success is critical. Men who exhibit optimism and confidence are simply more likely to succeed (this is not only true in the context of relationships). Of course, don’t stretch this idea too far. There’s a dangerously thin line between confidence and arrogance.
Furthermore, consider the benefits of open communication. It could spare you a lot of stress, embarrassment, and wasted time.