Ever been at the bar and see a gorgeous woman looking at you. After what feels like hours of staring you prance over to her, only to find she wasn’t looking at you – she was looking at the dude behind you?
According to researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, you made that mistake because evolution has favored you.
The study published in the upcoming issue of Psychological Science, involved 96 men and 103 women at a speed-dating event.
Prior to the three-minute date with someone of the opposite sex, the participants rated themselves on their own attractiveness and were assessed for the level of their desire for a short-term sexual encounter. After each “meeting, they rated the partner on a number of measures, including physical attractiveness and sexual interest in the participant. The model had the advantage of testing the participants in multiple interactions.
Men looking for a quick hookup were more likely to overestimate the women’s desire for them. Men who thought they were hot also thought the women were hot for them—but men who were actually attractive, by the women’s ratings, did not make this mistake. The more attractive the woman was to the man, the more likely he was to overestimate her interest. And women tended to underestimate men’s desire.
“There are two ways you can make an error as a man,” said lead study author Carin Perilloux, a psychologist at the college. “Either you think, ‘Oh, wow, that woman’s really interested in me’—and it turns out she’s not. There’s some cost to that,” such as embarrassment or a blow to your reputation. The other error: “She’s interested, and he totally misses out. He misses out on a mating opportunity. That’s a huge cost in terms of reproductive success.”
The researchers believe the guy who went all in, even at the risk of being rebuffed, scored more often and was more likely to pass on his over-perceiving tendency to his children.
Gentlemen, before you go out accosting any and every attractive woman you see, Perilloux warns, “Know that the more attracted you are, the more likely you are to be wrong about her interest.”