In neighborhoods with high crime rates, past research showed that women who perceive they are at risk will generally be attracted to physically formidable and dominant mates (PPFDM). Yes, I know, it's a hilarious classification. But while this finding isn't all that surprising, there's a new research by a team at University of Leicester, UK which suggests this is true even when there isn't much or any risk of physical confrontation at all. In other words, women who feel vulnerable or victimized no matter the circumstances will find comfort in dating PPFDM (now you have a new shorthand to call your meatier friends; enjoy!).
Two studies were conducted in the lab and in the field in which women volunteers were asked to look at some images or observe real life situations that described various risks of crime happening like hotspots or safespots. Then, the participants were asked to assess their perceived risk of victimization (fear of crime) of various crimes like male (and female) perpetrated physical assault, robbery or rape. Participants also completed a survey designed to measure PPFDM attractiveness.
Women's fear of crime significantly differed in response to crime cues - for example location and time of day - and, overall, fear of crime was related to PPFDM.
However, the relationship between PPFDM and fear did not vary by risk, perpetrator gender, or crime type. This suggests there's a relation between vulnerable women who feel at risk of crime no matter what and PPFDM, the researchers conclude in a paper published in Evolution and Human Behavior.
"PPFDM appears to be associated with women's self-assessed vulnerability. Women with strong PPFDM feel relatively more at risk, fearful, and vulnerable to criminal victimisation compared to their counterparts, regardless of whether there are situational risk factors present," says PhD researcher Hannah Ryder from the University of Leicester's Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour.
"Our research suggests that the relationship between feelings of vulnerability, as measured by fear of crime, and women's preference for physically formidable and dominant mates is stable, and does not update according to environmental circumstances or relative level of protection needed."