I a recent study published by the University of British Columbia, Canada, it seems women are more sexually attracted by men who display a more gloomy complexion or awareness of social norms by displaying shame, than men who look happy all the time.

The study published online Tuesday in the American Psychological Association journal Emotion showed pictures of the opposite sex to both men and women. About 1000 participants were then asked to rate the sexual attractiveness of hundreds of photos of the opposite sex, based on the expressions they saw.

“Men who smile were considered fairly unattractive by women,” said Jessica Tracy, a University of British Columbia psychology professor who directed the study.

“So to the extent that men think that smiling is a good thing to do if they want to be found sexually attractive our findings suggest that’s not the case,” Tracy said.

The men’s reaction was just the opposite.

“Women who smile are absolutely very attractive. That was by far the most attractive expression women showed,” Tracy said in an interview.

Thus, researchers could conclude that women were least attracted to smiling, happy men, preferring those who looked proud and powerful or moody and ashamed. The study is only based on first impression alone, and correspondents were asked to fill their perceptions according to sexual desires, and not from a relationship stand point.

Past research has shown that  smiling is associated with a lack of dominance, which is consistent with traditional gender norms of the “submissive and vulnerable” woman, but inconsistent with “strong, silent” man, the researchers say. “Previous research has also suggested that happiness is a particularly feminine-appearing expression,” Alec Beall, a UBC psychology graduate student and study co-author adds.

“Generally, the results appear to reflect some very traditional gender norms and cultural values that have emerged, developed and been reinforced through history, at least in Western cultures,” Tracy says. “These include norms and values that many would consider old-fashioned and perhaps hoped that we’ve moved beyond.

Displays of shame, Tracy says, have been associated with an awareness of social norms and appeasement behaviors, which elicits trust in others. This may explain shame’s surprising attractiveness to both genders, she says, given that both men and women prefer a partner they can trust.

RELATED  What does money mean to you? For women love, for men freedom

Although, a big smile always helps socially and asserts friendliness, it doesn’t seem to help men socializing in a bar get laid. Nobody likes a guy who smiles too much, it seems. The study also adds fuel to the notion that women are attracted to bad boys.

“Women are attracted to guys like James Dean, Edward the vampire. The guys who are flawed, but who know it and are tortured by it,” Tracy said

She emphasises, however, that the study explored first impression, and the team are not recommending men adopt a no-smile policy for a long-term relationship. “We’re not saying don’t be a nice guy,” she says.

Women of ZME Science, how far is this study from the truth in your perception? Be honest.

Enjoyed this article? Join 40,000+ subscribers to the ZME Science newsletter. Subscribe now!

Estimate my solar savings!