December 13, 2004
Men Prefer Subordinate Women For Long Term Relationships

Men are more attracted to lower status females than to higher status females.

"These findings provide empirical support for the widespread belief that powerful women are at a disadvantage in the marriage market because men may prefer to marry less accomplished women," said Stephanie Brown, lead author of the study and a social psychologist at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR).

For the study, supported in part by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, Brown and co-author Brian Lewis from UCLA tested 120 male and 208 female undergraduates by asking them to rate their attraction and desire to affiliate with a man and a woman they were said to know from work.

"Imagine that you have just taken a job and that Jennifer (or John) is your immediate supervisor (or your peer, or your assistant)," study participants were told as they were shown a photo of a male or a female.

After seeing the photo and hearing the description of the person's role at work in relation to their own, participants were asked to use a 9-point Likert scale (1 is not at all, 9 is very much) to rate the extent to which they would enjoy going to a party with Jennifer or John, exercising with the person, dating the person and marrying the person.

Brown and Lewis found that males, but not females, were most strongly attracted to subordinate partners for high-investment activities such as marriage and dating.

"Our results demonstrate that male preference for subordinate women increases as the investment in the relationship increases," Brown said. "This pattern is consistent with the possibility that there were reproductive advantages for males who preferred to form long-term relationships with relatively subordinate partners.

"Given that female infidelity is a severe reproductive threat to males only when investment is high, a preference for subordinate partners may provide adaptive benefits to males in the context of only long-term, investing relationships---not one-night stands."

This poses a problem for not just for bright, motivated, and successful women but also for the gene pool of the human race. The genetic characteristics that make women bright, motivated, and successful are getting selected against more often than was the case in the past. In the Western industrial countries when women had far fewer opportunities to rise in status hierarchies and earn high incomes the women whose genetic potential was being suppressed appeared in more subordinate roles and hence were more attractive to successful men.

Of course there are limits to just how far the male attractiveness to lower status females will go - especially for marriage. One reason is simple: Money. Higher status females will bring more money to the marriage or the ability to work fewer hours to make the same amount of money as a lower status female makes working full time. So time for mommy duties can be greater with higher status females who are willing to work part-time. These facts have got to cross the minds of a lot of men who are looking at prospects.

Another point: This study used photos and no verbal interaction. In conversations brighter women may do better at raising the interest of men. They can be funnier and do a better job of picking up on cues about interests. Also, looks matter. Well, contrary to popular stereotypes the smarter women may have an edge on looks. intelligence and body symmetry are positively correlated. Body symmetry is also correlated with attractiveness. So brighter women are probably more attractive on average.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2004 December 13 01:13 PM  Human Mating


Comments
p said at December 13, 2004 6:06 PM:

Please ... the assertion that this study proves that men prefer anything is unfounded (and wildly so for that matter) ... this study is one that must face the burden of ecological validity and it clearly does not ... Men do not select mates based upon the experimental conditions outlined ... Thus the external validity of this study is non-existant ... Randall your points that accomplished women may be funny or intersting is a direct line to the question of external validlity ..

John said at December 13, 2004 9:24 PM:

The view that 'subordinate women' are worse for the future of the human race is also false. Do not assume that a woman who is better for a long term relationship has less evolutionary advantage, and will lower the genetic quality of future humans.

Randall Parker said at December 13, 2004 11:01 PM:

P,

The study shows that, yes, all else equals then men prefer less high status and less high power females. Granted, smarter women who are higher up on status hierarchies have resources that help to persuade. But before those factors come into play men already prefer them less.

John,

Those "subordinate women" are, on average, less intelligent than the higher status women. So this preference by men has the effect of selecting against higher intelligence.

If you do not see evolutionary advantage (by which I assume you mean reproductive fitness) and genetic quality as the same thing (and I don't) then a woman can have a selective advantage and greater reproductive fitness and yet lower quality by some measures. If we bring our values to the judgement of quality then quality could be quite different than reproductive fitness. For example, if one saw higher intelligence as a value then greater reproductive fitness that comes as a result of lower intelligence produces a result which could be viewed as lower quality.

smileycynic said at December 14, 2004 12:21 AM:

I agree with the other comments saying that it doesn't sound like a very useful study for making generalizations.

One generalization you're making that I think is wrong is equating position with brightness. While there is certainly some correlation, there's also a correlation with values. A woman who is in a lower status position may be likely to spend more time on things other than her career, such as family and self maintenance, and many men may value that.

Personally, although I have a 130 IQ and have attempted several different career paths, I've made a lot of decisions over the years that are more relationship than career oriented, and as a result am in a happy relationship making a very subordinate salary but doing something I enjoy.

Randall Parker said at December 14, 2004 12:32 AM:

smileycynic,

People in higher status positions do have higher IQs on average. For some types of jobs a higher IQ is absolutely essential to have any chance of getting the job in the first place.

Yes, some higher IQ people are in lower status jobs. But on average the people in lower status jobs have lower IQs than the people in higher status jobs.

Different values: Yes, of course. That may be what men are picking up on. A high flying career woman is less likely to want to take the time to have children.

Invisible Scientist said at December 14, 2004 3:46 AM:

First of all, those women who are very intelligent, successful, and attractive,
would always find intelligent men to have children from. If intelligent and successful women
are intimidating, this is just their defense mechanism to protect their superior genes so that
only successful men would dare to ask them if they want children. Thus it is not that the superior women are in
danger of not finding high quality men to procreate, it is that their careers and other preoccupations are
interfering with the need to have children.

The reason average men are intimidated by intelligent and attractive women is
perhaps because their survival instinct is telling them that these superior women are
not interested in having children from them, and as a result, they would choose a more
mediocre woman to have a child as an insurance policy.

Daveg said at December 14, 2004 8:08 AM:


This could imply that denying education to women (as well as opportunities in the workplace) is a smart strategy for keeping high intellegence females in the gene pool. Even intellegent women, if uneducated, will be subordinate to less intellegent, but educated, men.

The men will feel more secure with these women and be more likely to marry them.

It is also well know that educating women and allowing them econmic parity with men results in huge drops in the birth rate. Hence the big drive to do just that in developing countries to drive the birth rate down.

Muslim countries seem to maintain a higher birth rate by keeping their women relatively uneducated and econmically powerless.

There may be reasons that you would want to educate women, but not educating them is one way to increase the birth rate and increase the intellegent female participation in the gene pool.

-d

Dezakin said at December 14, 2004 11:33 AM:

The notion that any natural selection of humanity is relavant is somewhat absurd, absent a sudden global nuclear war. In all likelyhood humans in several hundred years will be engineered, if they exist as humans at all, and artificial intelligence will rule over all.

Randall Parker said at December 14, 2004 12:03 PM:

Upon reflection: I'd like to see this experiment repeated with IQ, education, economic status, and other measures of ability and success made on the men. Also, measure the men for introversion/extroversion.

Are introverted men more easily intimidated by higher status women?

Will high status men be more drawn than low status men to high status women?

Are low status men turned off by high status women because they view those women as unattainable?

Also, which jobs are seen as higher status jobs? Are there high income jobs for women which are not seen as high status? (working as call girls would be an example)

Randall Parker said at December 14, 2004 12:19 PM:

Dezakin,

The idea that natural selection ever stopped is absurd. The idea that natural selective pressures didn't change as a result of industrialization or various changes in social and economic structures is absurd.

Lots of alleles in humans are changing in frequency on a world scale and on the scale of individual societies. Obviously natural selection is at work.

Smileycynic said at December 14, 2004 1:35 PM:

Randall-

People in higher status positions do have higher IQs on average. For some types of jobs a higher IQ is absolutely essential to have any chance of getting the job in the first place.

This is what I was referring to when I said "there is certainly some [position/brightness] correlation."

Yes, some higher IQ people are in lower status jobs. But on average the people in lower status jobs have lower IQs than the people in higher status jobs.

True. However, there are many more low status jobs than high status ones. There could easily be a higher average IQ of women in high status jobs than low status ones and yet significantly more total high IQ women with lower status jobs.

I know many very bright women who do not have or have interest in high status jobs, I know many women with high status jobs who do not work on their relationship skills and therefore handle the oppposite sex very poorly and do not tend to have lasting happy relationships, and I know many people in high status jobs, of both sexes, whom I do not think are terribly bright. (although as we've gone over, I still think that on average, people in high status jobs have higher IQs)

I think Invisible Scientist has a very good point. As with men being attracted to looks, women tend to be attracted to status, so it seems a very likely hypothesis to me that men on average realize that they have less of a chance of attracting a long term partner of equal or higher status than themselves and therefore would rather not waste their time. Particularly in cases where there is direct comparison: seems like the results might differ with equal paying but different fields.

Dave Perkins said at December 14, 2004 1:42 PM:

I think something is missing from this study.

attraction is a thing which happens in phases, and the initial phase is very chemical and very much about the way a woman laughs, moves, dances, flirts, etc. You can't really measure a man's attraction to a woman by photographs.

This means, of course, that a self-confident, smiling, outgoing woman who laughs easily and is comfortable in her own skin will be at a great advantage in the marriage sweepstakes. These are traits which are arguably more common in more successful women, lack of confidence being something which inhibits success.

It is not about intimidation or threats to manhood. It is simply the complexities of attraction and attractiveness.

Randall Parker said at December 14, 2004 1:56 PM:

Smileycynic.

There are more low status jobs than high status jobs. There are also more people of average intelligence than of high intelligence. Intelligence has a normal distribution that fits a bell curve. So the vast bulk of the women in low status jobs are not very smart. Whereas the vast bulk of the women in high status jobs are very smart. So a preference for women in low status jobs does work against men selecting for higher IQ women on average.

The fact that women are more attracted to status and men more attracted to looks means that high status and mostly high IQ (some celebrities and sports figures excepted) men have a larger selection of women they find desirable. This works against the high IQ women since those women have to compete against lower IQ women. Whereas the smarter men do not have to compete as much against low IQ men.

Toby said at December 14, 2004 2:41 PM:

Randall:

There are more low status jobs than high status jobs. There are also more people of average intelligence than of high intelligence. Intelligence has a normal distribution that fits a bell curve. So the vast bulk of the women in low status jobs are not very smart. Whereas the vast bulk of the women in high status jobs are very smart. So a preference for women in low status jobs does work against men selecting for higher IQ women on average.

I think you're wrong about this. Setting aside the fact that the genetic component of intelligence is obviously governed by several loci and is dominated by environmental factors, Smileycynic asserts correctly (IMO) that the important factor here is the frequency of these alleles in the population as a whole. Let's say that the difference between a binary classification of high and low status is a full standard deviation in IQ - 15 points - which I think is probably being generous. 16% of the high status class will have an IQ over 130 (assuming N(115,15)) and 2% in the low status class will have an IQ > 130 (N(100,15)). Therefore, for the alleles of low-status-high-IQ individuals to dominate in the population as a whole, we only require that the number of low status individuals is greater than 8x the number of high status individuals.

Assuming that this study indicates that female intelligence is being selected against in any meaningful way seems dangerous to me, for a number of reasons:

1) Human lifespan, coupled with large population and complex traits with incomplete penetrance make sexual selection very inefficient over any culturally interesting time period. I can think of a number of recessive single locus diseases (floppy baby syndrome comes to mind) that, even given strong penetrance and early morbidity, have not been entirely selected out of the population. Other diseases such as sickle cell anaemia (recessive, single locus) have not disappeared, even though the selective pressure that malaria imposed in mediterranean regions has been largely alleviated for several hundred years.

2) As pointed out above, long term relationships are not a precondition for reproduction.

3) Low birth rate is a recent western cultural phenomenon, likely to have little if any impact on the genetics of the human population of the world as a whole. The most likely cultural force to have an impact on human genetics is China's one child policy, and, I would guess, the effect of a change even of that magnitude will be hard to disentangle from the noise.

Smileycynic said at December 14, 2004 3:07 PM:

Randall-

So a preference for women in low status jobs does work against men selecting for higher IQ women on average.

Yes. But I was not under the impression that we were talking about men selecting for high IQ.

My understanding of the topic we were discussing was that of high IQ in women being selected against by virtue of the study sited.

We are in agreement that there are less "bright" women than those of average + low intelligence. This study does not say anything about the distribution of those bright women between high and low status jobs. Despite agreeing with you in the assumption that the average IQ of women in high status jobs is higher than that of low status jobs, I have seen no evidence that there are more bright women in high status positions than low ones. I also consider it quite likely to be the reverse, a couple reasons being that there are so many more low status jobs than high status ones, and many bright women are not especially interested in a high status career path.

So, while it appears that at least by their equals and those below them, higher status women may indeed be being selected against, I do not see any evidence overall that high IQ in women is being selected against. It could as easily be being selected for given the studies about correlations between looks and intelligence.

You may well be right that higher status women are less likely to hook up. Especially given that they likely do tend to have higher standards of status in men, and therefore a smaller pool to choose from. (much smaller if those same men are not selecting for status in women: it would be interesting to see if there is a bell curve in status selection of men: maybe prefer women of lower status but not significantly lower, although this would be hard to measure if making the assumption that non-monetary things such as looks play a much larger role in female status than men)

The fact that women are more attracted to status and men more attracted to looks means that high status and mostly high IQ (some celebrities and sports figures excepted) men have a larger selection of women they find desirable. This works against the high IQ women since those women have to compete against lower IQ women.

This is only true if we assume that a significant enough number of the entire population of high IQ women are also high (employment) status, which I don't think has been proven.

Depending on how strong the correlation is, if intelligences is correlated with good looks then intelligent women may actually have an edge.

I do not recall the source, so correct me if I'm wrong, but as I recall, average IQ is increasing over the years, and at an even rate for women and men. Hence it seems likely to me that intelligence in both genders is a thriving trait.

Randall Parker said at December 14, 2004 6:15 PM:

Toby,

No, the genetic component of intelligence is not dominated by environment. Adoption studies and twins studies provide plenty of evidence to the contrary.

The popular assumption is that two factors determine outcome: environment and genetics. However, this is incorrect. Some chunk of the non-genetic component what causes differences in levels of intelligence appears to be random noise in development. Among the non-genetic factors are nutrition (which is generally better than, say, 100 years ago) and pollution (which is also better) and infection exposure (again, generally better). But there is evidence for the idea that at least in industrialised countries most of the environmental improvements have been made.

In fact, the power of genetic factors over environment is so strong that an adoption study of Korean babies in the United States found no economic benefit to being raised in upper class households. Also see the follow-up post by Alex Tabarrok on misconceptions in some reactions to that report. Note that this study found that for the range of economic classes examined there is not some marginal lasting nurture benefit from being raised in higher income families. This strongly argues that genes are far more important than environment over a large range of environments found in families in America. This isn't going to hold true in, say, India or China. But it does hold true in the United States.

I realize that a lot of people believe in a sort of neo-Cartesian dualism that holds the mind as somehow able to transcend and escape from the limits of the genes that code for it. But while environment can prevent a person from reaching their genetic potential it can not allow a person to exceed their genetic potential. Genes place a ceiling on the performance of the brain.

Smileycynic,

My argument is simple: Higher IQ women are more likely than lower IQ women to reach high status positions. They thereby become less appealing to men. This reduces the likelihood that they will mate and reproduce.

Do you seriously think the distribution of bright women in low and high status jobs is the same as the distribution of less bright women? Of course not. So on average higher IQ women are less appealing due to their higher status. You might think that this one study doesn't prove that. Well, this is not the only evidence to suggest there is a natural selective effect against ability happening in a Darwinian sense. A study on the Australian Twins Registry found that higher education reduces reproductive fitness. The term "reproductive fitness" means basically how many kids you have and how soon you have them. Higher IQ people attain higher educational levels. Obviously they have fewer kids.

Increasing IQ: You speak of the Lynne-Flynn Effect of measured IQ increase. However, even Flynn does not think that is an effect of a real increase in average population intelligence. As Flynn points out, if it was then we would be expected to be living in a Renaissance period of outpouring of genius.

Smileycynic said at December 14, 2004 11:59 PM:

Randall-

Since your argument continues to remain simple I will not continue to burden you with complexities.

One note Re: living in a Renaissance period. I think we do!! The crazy fast progress of computer art as well as technology alone is amazing. We just don't appreciate it as a period yet ;)

Randall Parker said at December 15, 2004 12:46 AM:

Smileycynic,

Natural selection can and does work against alleles even though in each generation not all the carriers of an allele fail to reproduce. This is why your argument about high IQ women in low status jobs is irrelevant.

You think you are making a complex argument. But your argument does not address my point: A larger fraction of high IQ women than low IQ women are in high status jobs. Therefore a larger fraction of high IQ women face less interest from men who are averse to high status mates.

My basic argument is, yes, as I stated, simple. But your condescending response ignores the rather complex statistical reasoning underlying it. You state:

This is only true if we assume that a significant enough number of the entire population of high IQ women are also high (employment) status, which I don't think has been proven.

If only 1% of the high IQ women were in higher status jobs that would be enough to exert a selective effect. But of course in elite universities women are more than half the students. Women are more than half of new veterinarians and are headed in similar directions in law and medicine. Smart women are headed into many higher status positions. They are not rare. Do you really think this needs to be proven?

Also, this latest study is consistent with other studies. For example, Harvard female MBAs have low fertility. Australian twins with high educational achievement have low fertility.

Women lose their fertility sooner than men do. So delayed mating due to higher education is going to disproportionately impact them. Also, men are more biased toward younger women as mates whereas women are biased toward higher status mates. Since men achieve their higher status as they age this helps bias women toward older men.

jmgordon said at December 15, 2004 12:21 PM:

I think that in general Randall is probably right, except that I tend to see this as an overall effect: both men and women with higher education tend to delay child rearing.

However, I think all of this is underestimating what technology is going to do to this issue in the next several decades. Through primitive means such as fertility drugs, we are already seeing isolated incidents of women in their 50's and 60's having children. Then we will see such techniques as egg preservation to allow women to have children later. And if regenerative medicine ever lives up to its promise, we've got a whole new ball game.

As far as higher status women not reproducing because they can't get a man, they don't need a man: Sperm bank + artificial insemination = child.

Just some thoughts.

Randall Parker said at December 15, 2004 12:43 PM:

jmgordon,

A lot of women who would have a child with a man would not do so with a sperm bank. Though I've gone on record arguing that when genetic testing for IQ, personality, health, and other important genetic variations becomes widely available the attraction of sperm bank sperm will increase.

Yes, at some point in the future genetic engineering will allow increases in IQ that will overwhelm existing selective pressures. However, right now IQ is definitely being selected against.

David said at December 15, 2004 8:00 PM:

Men are more attracted to lower status females than to higher status females.

If your read the details of the study, that's not what it demonstrates:

For the study, supported in part by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, Brown and co-author Brian Lewis from UCLA tested 120 male and 208 female undergraduates by asking them to rate their attraction and desire to affiliate with a man and a woman they were said to know from work.

"Imagine that you have just taken a job and that Jennifer (or John) is your immediate supervisor (or your peer, or your assistant)," study participants were told as they were shown a photo of a male or a female.

It shows that men are less attracted to their bosses than to their subordinates. What wasn't asked, for example, was how likely participants would be to date a high-powered attorney, or a neurosurgeon, vs. a secretary or a chimney sweep, with no employment relationship to the subject.

p said at December 16, 2004 6:54 PM:

David, excellent point ... the manipulation performed by the researcher is not generalizable (i.e., no external validity). I would add that even the manipulation performed is not an ecologically valid excution to infer that men and women in work settings would be attraqcted to one another. Mate selection doe not arise in the manner executed in the experiment ... the manipulation is not a test of a vaild socio-psych construct ...

Rene said at December 18, 2004 4:16 PM:

Women can be quite dismissive of anyone they consider of lower status. Whether men or other women. I've noticed a lot of women I know being rude to waitresses, secretaries, and checkout clerks. They don't even seem to notice it themselves.

A woman who marries "below her level" often becomes a laughingstock. Witness the amusing "Meet the Fockers" movie with Robert De Niro. But with affirmative action in college admissions and job hires and promotions, many women reach high positions who may not actually be the equals of the men who manage to reach the same position. But thanks to affirmative action, and the strong societal pressures brought to bear by powerful feminists, women are pushed to abandon child-bearing in favor of achieving the highest possible career attainments.

So in the study, the fact that the woman is a boss figure does not automatically convert into the woman being a mental superior. Would you want to marry a woman who achieved her position through legally mandated favoritism? Probably not.

Heather said at April 11, 2005 7:33 PM:

I took the MENSA test and scored 197, and am female, age 36. I can sculpt, paint, write, dance, act, and am employed in the entertainment industry as a filmmaker and producer. I am also single and have no children. Perhaps I can settle the question.

I -want- to be single, and I -do not- want children.

After seeing how my submissive, bright-as-a-dull-penny mother was rolled over regularly and disrespected by my father, who has pretended to great intellectual prowess falsely all his life, I decided at 17 to conduct a test. At age 30 I concluded it. My findings:

The heterosexual male is under a chemical mandate to seek out and serial impregnate then abandon the most attractive females he can encounter in his lifetime. Attractiveness means tall (but not taller than he), thin, with large breasts, long slender legs, fair skin, a very narrow waist and some curvature to the hips, a symmetrical face with wide, friendly eyes, a broad smile with even, white teeth, and an extroverted personality less intelligent than he perceives himself to be. Often a resemblance to a highly-desired star or model is also desired, in order that he can perform the male social dance of parading the won female before his fellow male tribe members and be lauded by them for his achievement. Once he has won this female and had sexual intercourse with her enough times to suggest impregnation to his own personal (and often subconscious) perception, he WILL abandon her. We can deny this or wish it were not so, as much as we like. But the brutal scientific fact is this is the way men are. It is unnatural for men and women to remain together longer than the impregnation goal period. It has been observed to cause enormous pain and friction for both the male and female involved.

If a female does not fit the physical standard described above, male biology kicks in like Norton Antivirus and boots her to the curb. If the male is desperate, he will perform sex with one in secret, but he will avoid with all his might any promenading ritual of her before his tribe. Their eyes will immediately grade and vet her physical unsuitability, and he will risk their ridicule. This is why certain women (fat women, intelligent women, dark-haired women whose hair does not fit the Betty Page acceptability of brunette, or non-white women who are not Asian) consistently experience men "hiding" them from their other male friends and declining to let them meet their families and peer groups.

Finally, my experiment concluded that the heterosexual construct of marriage is not only unnatural and causative of anguish to both parties, the female gets nothing of value in return. In our anxiety as women to experience the celebration of a tribal maturity ritual from all our female friends (i,e,. "you are a woman now, fully grown; dance around the circle, etc."), we have filled that Western societal void by craving a white gown with a veil, having the symbolic cake, the ring, and the promenade of a suitable male before the other females in our tribes to approve and envy. In today's society we call that the wedding.

It was my scientific conclusion at 30 that men offer nothing to today's intelligent woman as marriage partners. This is not a criticism of men. Males traditionally and by majority cannot communicate emotionally, do not care for young as efficiently, and provide zero romantic support to a female partner. These three things are what women crave, but men do not and cannot provide them. To continue to petition men for these things is in my opinion similar to beating a pig with a 2x4 and asking why it cannot and won't read Proust aloud in Latin. It simply can't do it, and that's not what pigs are designed for. Men are designed to fight wars, compete, hunt, kill, and impregnate, then exit.

I don't want a man for romance, and I am happy with that. I satisfy those needs quite well with toys and my imagination. Men make excellent friends and business partners, however, and I will continue to use them for that purpose. I am fairly certain most other intelligent women, especially businesswomen like myself, feel similarly. I am not a lesbian. I simply see men as they are, and don't see the logic in pretending or wishing they were otherwise. I am intelligent enough to adapt my life to the reality of them.

I hope that answers the question.

Lily said at May 1, 2005 12:56 AM:

This implies that women who are in 'subordinate' (as far as career and status) are somehow less intelligent than those who are not. Bull Sh!t. Perhaps the women who are considered 'subordinate' career-wise are merely more DRIVEN by the idea of creating a family rather than a hefty savings account or impressive resume (or acquiring a sense of power and dominance like MEN). Everyones definition of success is different. If a woman opts to spend her time in the competitive business world surrounded by men... behaving like men... then how is that superior to women (intellectually or otherwise) who are not motivated or driven to be part of that arena? Perhaps men prefer women who act like women. I'm am not by any means claiming that a woman who is driven or goal-oriented is less of a woman... I am merely suggesting that maybe after being a part of the male dominated business world women begin behaving like men (being more aggressive and power-hungry...) and become less attractive to men -- because they're so much like them. Maybe? Just my two-cents.

laura said at May 4, 2005 11:00 AM:

OMG--a study bsed on 328 people conducted by ucla scientists, and all of a sudden, this ridiculously small sample is representative of the human race! social science is a very inexact science that will never be free from cultural and social influences. how intelligent is it to be drawing gross generalizations from a study of 328 college students? how about actually interviewing real life working people? forget that, take any sliver of shaky evidence that supports an existing social prejuduce and declare it as a fixed psychological trait! this is why i don't trust shrinks...

WhatAjoke said at May 22, 2005 10:14 PM:

No way in the world did "Heather" attain a 197 on the MENSA test.
Just a sad lumpy misfit who can't get a man and lives in a dream world.

WhatAjoke said at May 22, 2005 10:14 PM:

No way in the world did "Heather" attain a 197 on the MENSA test.
Just a sad lumpy misfit who can't get a man and lives in a dream world.

DeDawg said at June 9, 2005 6:36 AM:

Heather is right on the mark, as is the article. Smart women, like most women, prefer smart men, but smart men prefer to leverage their standing to woo hot women of average intelligence, rather than smart women of average looks. Nothing for the smart woman to do but adapt herself to the reality of male mating psychology, whether that means lowering one's standards to include those of a lower educational attainment or eschewing marriage entirely. It may not be great news for the human gene pool, if genetic engineering is slow to appear, but there's not much incentive to care about the distant future anyway.

an observer said at June 22, 2005 3:30 PM:

I hate to be so callous, but all I have got to say to these studies is DUH!!!

Look all around you. Mickey Rooney a little guy (certanily not Clark Gable) is married 8 times. Jack Welch former CEO of GE is married to a good looking many years younger woman, along with Donald Trump. A guys dream. I don't see the Oprah's of this world going out with some young black stud, or Martha Stewart hitting up on Jude Law. Nor would these woman want too! There is something in the make-up of humans that says this is yucky. Certainly there are exceptions, but they are on the Maury Povich show,

News flash to feminists!!! Men and women are different!!! What an earth shattering statement. A man NEEDS RESPECT OR TO FEEL RESPECTED FROM A WOMAN. I think a lot of guys don't like the high-powered chicks for precisely this reason. Also, a woman (** GASP, EVEN FEMENISTS!!!), need to be with a man they respect. Just goes to show men and women are different.

60 minutes did a piece on the H-Bomb. Woman who went to Harvard didn't like to say they went to Harvard. Guys would hear that, and go on to the next woman. Guys who went to Harvard, they are the studs! Double standards, maybe. I prefer to call it biology. Perhaps ** gasp! *** men and women were created by God for different but complementing roles. Now that's a novel idea!

L said at June 25, 2005 2:48 AM:

I am an intelligent, attractive female of high status in an intellectual sense (i.e. high educational attainment, elite career path, though decidedly not high-power-jobbed in any conventional sense--many intellectuals who really think outside the box of traditional institutions ever are).

I am shocked by both the narrow field of variables used to "prove" something I see in the study that has engendered the postings, and by the resulting postings themselves.

We have got to evolve further than the pseudo-science of gender studies, which have always been suspiciously flawed in their reasoning by simply framing these study questions. By framing such--dare I say, stupid--questions, one will undoubtedly come up with stupid assumptions. By framing such questions, in other words, one already ASSUMES many things.

Human experience is much, much more complex than what this study assumes. IQ is an artificial science in itself, cooked up through the years by the eugenics movement, the ideas inherent in the American meritocracy, and now testing companies out to make a buck.

ALL of this is so narrow that is suggests academic hucksterism, frankly.

Does intellectual attainment--higher education, higher career path--in women curtail fecundity? Yes, but I believe it has little to do with "men's choice" of partners. Women, and especially intelligent women, make choices, too. Also, all it takes to produce a child is a single sexual act--usually not difficult for even a "high IQ" woman to engage in. There are simply too many variables out there this study does not account for. It proves nothing--it is just theory based on a question asked in a cave.

lionstar said at August 10, 2005 9:13 AM:

I think the salient question in men's minds when faced with a smart woman as a potential mate is: "Will this smart woman love me once she finds out I'm not smarter than she is?"

Many women I know admit they are confused about gender roles, and at least some of the time they want to fall back to traditional models. This makes it difficult for a guy who must one day admit that he's no smarter than his wife, and the next day must seem wise and in control when that's what she wants.

I think if accomplished women could really mean it when they said they wanted equality, and love and respect men even when we can't give them the illusion of being wiser and smarter than they, then you would see more men willing to approach smart women.

My 2 cents.

just my experience said at October 3, 2005 5:46 PM:

This is just based on my own observations in my area, full of very career driven, business minded, materialistic people of both sexes. I have a Masters Degree in Psychology and started out as a career focused woman, at the age of only 24, higher than average IQ. I am also an ex model, which is not to brag, just say where I am coming from. Being young and pretty is a magnet to every male-dog in the vicinity and makes other women act like pitbulls. As I said, I started off in the career focused world, high IQ and highly educated, only to discover that no one took me seriously despite my achievements--and other women in the work setting acted like they would delight in stabbing me in my sleep. If you are young and pretty, in a setting with other women, you know exactly what I am talking about.

The funny thing is, although ogled and treated like a sex object, I could not get a date to save my life. As soon as men found out I had a Masters Degree that is. I, like some other status women, ended up married to a lesser status man with less income and discovered that, gold digging has now gone equal opportunity. So divorced him and again found that men would run from career women like cancer (in Orange County, CA). There are simply way too many bimbos to compete with here. The men will choose an average looking blonde with the IQ of a box of rocks over a supermodel brunette with an MA degree. You might as well have the plague. Your choices are lower status men who want to use YOU for your income, or to be single the rest of your life (some women choose this), if you are not a lesbian of course.

So although bright, I have chosen to take a subordinate position to a very intelligent career man with a high income. I feel family focused, this is my nature. I don't see how it can be accomplished competing with every blonde bimbo in the vicinity who cater to men's egos. Half of them or more are sleeping with married status men because the wife challenges his masculinity and the bimbo caters to it (think the Clintons). After I chose to drop the career path to focus on having a future relationship and family(took a lower status job), many professional men who would play with a gold digging blonde bimbo but not marry a woman like that, approached me. The status men that marry some blonde twit and end up getting burned for it bring their destruction on themselves.

There are many highly attractive, intelligent, educated women out there *choosing* lower status positions. The reality is that other women are jealous nasties in the work setting towards them (especially the older ones), lower status men just want to use them and lack their own masculinity, and the successful men who want to settle down run from career women like cancer. Welcome to Orange County, CA.

philip said at December 21, 2005 2:47 AM:

hey "just my experience" by any chance do you watch the OC? well anyway, i think the reason why men avoid career women is cuz of their egos and career women do seem less loyal, although it might not be true, it's an engraved stereotype. however, i think men still prefer smart women over "bimbos", so long as the smart women are not also career women.

Fred Jones said at January 2, 2006 3:00 PM:

I think much of this argument is presented in a different form in "The Bell Curve". The argument it presents is that in the past, people of high IQ and people of low IQ were not socially stratified, or at least not very effectively. Today they are. We have widespread testing and stratification. Statistically the majority of high IQ types are more educated and have higher status jobs, they are also less likely to have many children. This results in a shrinking class of increasing intelligence, if carried out far enough. While I think the study cited only shows that men don't want to be subordinate to their mates, I think the issue of IQ and mating has large social implications.

Riley said at January 6, 2006 7:14 PM:

Sad, sad, sad. The more I read things like this, the more I want to remain single or move to another planet. Men & women are doomed as a species. I give the human race another 10,000 years, max. They both refuse to work together, elevate one other and love one another to a better future. I blame most of this on men as they want everything for themselves and nothing for anyone else.

Women AND men are having less children regardless of status. WHY? As society has moved to the city away from the farm, children became an economic liability. I personally don't know any men in my circle of friends, that prefers a less intelligent or less goal oriented wife. Not a one. This "observation" is completly offbase.

MTaylor said at January 27, 2006 2:31 PM:

Some points to consider:

Since Homo "sapiens" exhibits very little dimorphism of the sexes (as compared to other animals), we probably compensate for it with gender-specific behaviours, hence the stereotyping of average minds as to what a particular sex ought to behave like.

The standard stereotypical definition of male seems to require DOMINANCE... of intellect, will, and physical strength. This is the provider/hunter/defender role.

The standard stereotypical definition of female seems to require SUBMISSIVENESS... of intellect (she shouldn't have to "worry her little head about important matters"... she has children that need minding), will (she must be more accommodating to be the social glue), and physical ability (would you want your mare to put herself at risk?) This is the nurturer/gatherer role.

When it comes to a smart woman, I think we get confused as to her real gender. Is she a male? She talks like one... but she looks like a woman... Could be risky... Ah, nevermind... there's a cute little thing that won't complicate my life... On top of this rejection, the smart woman is shunned by her own gender as some sort of freak - "little people talk about other people, average people talk about things, great people talk about ideas." How can she feign not being bored about fashion, makeup, relationships when she feels driven by ethics and compassion to help the human condition or by curiosity to solve some mystery? What does she care for who drives what kind of car or what he does for a living? She's independant and stands tall.

Intelligence is positively correlated with increased size and facial symmetry. So on top of being smart, she is LARGE. On top of that, she may be seen as unfaithful, especially if she is a freedom-loving creative. If she is seen as independant, then she is left to fend for herself. There's a very good likelihood that she suffers depression because she either really can't be totally independant or that she, in her own struggle to remain "female" rejects it. This holds her back from financial success as well as being seen as unattainable and unholdable. She is sought, but not kept, except as "just a pal" because she casts a shadow on her mates unwillingly. What man wants to look like a wimp beside her? I do think that she presents as a curiosity that attracts men though, much like female bodybuilders. But once her efforts to improve cross the line past merely "being cute" as a form of reflective flattery, toward true competence, then the men back right off.

As for the "wimps" in our societies, I think a similar prejudice is working against the compassionate artistic male, who may, in his aversion to strife, have a smaller-framed body and a weaker disposition to disease from the stress of it. Is he a man? Not to women who confide in him. He's just another girl. To the men, he's a wimp. Again, shunned by both sexes. What girly-girl wants to be made to look butch beside him? How much harder is it for a smart woman to feel womanly next to a guy like that?

As for our looks, I argue that shape doesn't matter as much as SIZE does. A very shapely LARGE female and a very muscular LITTLE male lose the mating game when competing with a shapeless LITTLE female and a flabby LARGE male, respectively. This would make sense, because size is the first thing one is judged by, from a distance. I would argue that we "size up" potential mates quite literally the moment we are aware of them. This would make for a really interesting study.

This brings into question the use of such things as high heels. And why already beautiful oriental girls are putting themselves through the agony of leg extensions. The heels were originally made to augment the perceived power of a queen. So that's a women's lib thing as well as a long-leg thing. But why the long legs? Perhaps because women have literally starved themselves to be thin, and they've reached the healthy limit, the only way to appear even thinner is to add length. A tall spindly woman LOOKS weaker than a short spindly woman. After all... what is "elegant" if not LONG AND THIN? Elegant may be a way to establish a royalness, royalty having used frailty as a sort of proof of worth (a reversed pattern created to cover for the effects of inbreeding).

Now, put this to genetics. Are the genes for our size located near our genes for intelligence, allowing for less crossover? Are the genes for the various forms of intelligence recessive as I suspect? If located on the X chromosome, a smart gene there would explain the rarity of smart women to some degree. A male with one recessive smart gene would have to be smart. A hybrid woman would be stupid. The only way you could have a smart woman is for her to inherit two recessive genes.

I see FOUR types of intelligence: one has become the base norm and is not seen as talented. The other three are Logic, Ethical-Emotional and Kinesthetic-Active. Our hierarchical social structure demands less people who are smart. Too many leaders otherwise. The Ethical-Emotional is a social glue, but is seen as more "Communist" - the threat of forced sharing that goes against one's need to be greedy and selfish. The Kinesthetic-Active breeds change and opportunism, also a threat. Even from elementary school... teachers don't like rebellious smarties. It is no mistake that the latter two types of lateral/creative intelligences are right-brained and heavily suppressed with bias and stigma.

Now, given the Ingenuity Gap that is widening in our world (between our need for new solutions and our capacity to provide the ingenuity for them), you will see that Mankind hasn't much hope to survive if he can't get past these gender stereotypes and embrace the Creative and Emotional IQ's out there. We have logical minds struggling with tunnel vision, trying to resolve complex and chaotic systems. THAT realm is excelled by the persecuted breeds of the other two Big-Picture intelligences. What we need are rarities: Artistic-Ethical Scientist/Engineers and Social Scientists who are taken seriously and not burned out trying to help in a welfare system designed to hinder. Consider this, especially when you next assess the value or lack thereof of a person labelled as bipolar, obsessive-compulsive, or attention-deficit.

Fred: "I personally don't know any men in my circle of friends, that prefers a less intelligent or less goal oriented wife. Not a one. This "observation" is completly offbase."

I suspect you and your fellow men are either extremely rare breeds who are truly not threatened, or you haven't really met any women that could whip you badly at chess. So keep up your spirits... we need guys like you to seek women like me. Let us all save the world in what small ways we can!

M. Taylor

MTaylor said at January 27, 2006 3:01 PM:

Sorry... I typoed... Fred instead of Riley for his quote.

Turnbuckle said at February 27, 2006 6:26 PM:

Women in America today are greedy, shallow, materialistic whores who will pull their Calvin Klein panties off for any guy who drives a BMW and works in some pussy office-type of environment. Women expect every guy over the age of 22 to pull down at least 75 grand a year. The reality is that even a college degree doesn't ensure that you will have a "great paying, rewarding career".

Sirona Knight said at March 4, 2006 6:56 AM:

Women need to think for themselves and ignore all this rubish. If women always did what men wanted, we'd really be in a sinking boat, now wouldn't we? ahhh, can you spell WAR? That's a man's game. Just imagine if women were given the same opportunities as men to invent, to create great works of art, to be mover and shakers in business, to be political leaders, and so forth. Every time a man says a woman is too independent, too smart, too sharp--it sets the human race back a few steps. Don't kid yourself about this Ladies and Gentlemen, if you suppress and stifle intelligence and creativity (even just a little), EVERYONE LOSES!!! So women, speak out, say what you feel and think, do what you feel and think, dare to create, dare to push the envelope--and any man that thinks or feels you are too independent or too intelligent--well just move on to those that cherish your brilliance and light! Learn, read, intuit, and do! I dare each woman in the world to express your full potential as a vibrant, thinking, active female. Let's see what happens when we all dare to speak out from our well-educated minds, hearts, and spirits. The time has come. Blessed be and live free!

LPatterson said at April 25, 2006 1:40 PM:

The study by its own admission undermines its own validity at the end of the article by saying that only photos were used with no verbal interaction. How on earth could any serious male in his right mind make a serious decision on a potential marriage partner by looking at a photo? A serious study would have to be a lot more in depth than this. However, the issue of whether a man wanted a woman from a higher or lower social ranking to himself was based on a description of where the woman rated in relation to himself in a work environment. This might not necessarily be an indication of intelligence. There are many different forms of intelligence, and a higher social ranking in a work environment might indicate to a man for example, an aggressive competitive nature in a woman that a man might see as a threat to his own security if he felt that she might question his need for authority. However, there are plenty of intelligent women who are happy to balance part-time work at a job that is acceptable to their intelligence, and that fulfills their emotional needs without necessarily having to prove themselves by climbing the career ladder, and enduring the stress that it entails.
Besides, if the men had been given a chance to actually talk to the women, or even been given a chance to listen to their voices describing themselves, the men might have been impressed by the more intelligent women's wit and humour, which they might have found to be an endearing quality for their notions of companionship, that might have offset their previous decisions.
However another point that could be concluded is that men seeking to marry women in a subordinate position is that men seek to see themselves as providers, and if a woman is in a senior position then it will take away his self-value as being able to provide for a woman, if she is able to provide for herself independently. However, what happens if this woman wants to get married and wants to take maternity leave, therefore she is no longer on the career ladder. These kind of variables aren't taken into account.

Another comment I might make is that women seen to strive to get higher on the career ladder might be giving out signals to men that they are more interested in investing a career than in being mothers, as obviously these are 2 highly demanding roles that can be difficult to manage. Again, this is another reason that an intelligent woman might not necessarily choose to aim for the peak of her profession, but might settle at a lower status job in order that there would be an easier chance of transfering to part-time work if she decided to have children.

Another point the conclusion of the study doesn't take into account is that it is based on the assumtion that men are the primary selectors, thereby validating the notion of men de-selecting intelligent women. In fact there is plenty of scientific evidence to show that more often than not the women are the primary selectors, since men are often the ones running round being non-commital round a number of different women, whereas the women are the ones who have a greater biological need to find a stable partner that will commit to them and therefore will make a greater investment in making a good selection. So, where is the test stating the findings of what the intelligent women are selecting? I don't think they are selecting the sociologists who came up with the simplistic findings of this study that's for sure!

Will0 said at August 2, 2006 1:39 PM:

Here's something else they didn't think of -- maybe these men are thinking more about their new JOBS than mating. They're protecting their jobs by going out with the more subordinate woman, because if they go out with the woman who can FIRE them if she gets pissed at them, then they put their livelihood at risk.

A better study would be to just say "rate Suzie, she's a receptionist" and then the next guy "rate Suzie, she's a CFO." The fact that the 'women' work in the same office undoubtedly is a confounding variable.

nikki said at February 19, 2008 5:23 AM:

The fact that men prefer subordinate women is evidenced in humans, by the general subordinate behavior of women. Subordinate women willing to give up carreers in prefrence for the 'work' of single handed parenting get more dates. Makes perfect sense to me. I know this from my own dating experience. You know that saying, 'nice guys finish last'?, the same can be said for women, independent, strong women finish last too. (yeah, thats a sore spot at the moment). Thats why nice men who think of women as equals tend to remain chronically single. Its not just that men are attracted to more passive women, women are more attracted to dominating men.

I think the concern regarding affects to humans over all is a very important aspect, and it dosent matter how you define intelligent. If there was no merit to the idea of selective breeding, then I know a lot of farmers who have collectively spent billions of dollars and millions of hours of research to no effect.

There is a deeper concept here. This study seems to show that genders respond to what we want in each other (the concept of gender itself is variable). That does not speak well to the idea that women are 'naturally' mothering/submissive beings and men are 'naturally' working/aggressive beings. Over time, we have simply selected each other for those traits that happen to fit what we conceive of as proper family life. I remember hearing somewhere that in the 1900's men in America developed a fad for small women, feminists noted (even then) that within one generation American's were on average, measurably smaller. We cant ignore history here. In 2007 a less subordinate woman who works a high paying job is a definite advantage, the last generation say 1989, this may have been less true. There were fewer opportunities for women to work then as there are today, and we made less money. I advise both my young sons to marry educated women and educate themselves before parenting. The idea is not just about double incomes but, if something happens to either parent, the other one can make it easier alone. Also in the case of divorce, the man is less likely to be striped of finances if she has a healthy income. I really hope they listen to that.

I think understanding the nature of domination is important too. Women are subordinate to men today because for thousands of years, women have been beaten and cornered by law and tradition into it. Women not willing to take on a submissive role were simply raped, ostracized, sold or killed. This means only those women willing to submit to male domination survived to raise children. Today (so far at the moment) women have (currently contended) full control of our reproductive faculties. This gives women, for the first time in history, as much power in mate selection as men have always had (hence the contention on abortion that follows in the wake of the women's movement). This means men will evolve to prefer women who don't become subordinate to them when women simply don't want men who desire that sort of thing, and select mates accordingly.

D.R. said at April 12, 2008 4:54 PM:

The very idea that *all* women choose a mate based on financial status, as opposed to looks, is a complete LIE. I've never been interested in the so-called "intelligent men", nor am I impressed by a large bank account. I'll take a hot, muscle-bound manual laborer ANY DAY over some gawky, know-it-all nerd with a fat wallet. Money does NOT buy happiness. A random flash of a Ben Franklin isn't going to make me have an orgasm... sorry. Smart guys almost never take care of their bodies... they are too busy honing their brains (yeah, one of the organs that I can't see) and talking about some shit I don't even understand (and don't care to). I am of average intelligence... so take that for what it's worth. I select a guy for sex based on his physical virility, as Nature intended. Money is a rotten, evil creation used by physically undesirable men to create a faux shroud of alpha male status. Thankfully, I'm immune to such trickery. I know a real man when I SEE him; He's strong, has sexy eyes, a confident walk & a smooth baritone voice. No geek or rich old fart can even come close to the beauty of a TRUE alpha male.

REM said at May 18, 2008 7:27 AM:

In response to what an observer said about older women not wanting to date younger men? I quote:

" Mickey Rooney a little guy (certanily not Clark Gable) is married 8 times. Jack Welch former CEO of GE is married to a good looking many years younger woman, along with Donald Trump. A guys dream. I don't see the Oprah's of this world going out with some young black stud, or Martha Stewart hitting up on Jude Law. Nor would these woman want too! There is something in the make-up of humans that says this is yucky. Certainly there are exceptions, but they are on the Maury Povich show".

How do you know that they wouldn't want a younger man!! yes, it is rarer, sadly so, but that does not mean women wouldn't want to. And to say that it is 'yucky'! I'm a young woman and I think it is 'yucky' when I see a younger woman with an older man! If I see an older woman with a young man I think good on her. What evidence have you got that it goes against the make-up of humans? Surely, a woman is more likely to be attracted to a younger man, because he will have a higher sperm count and will be physically stronger.


By the way D.r I completely agree with you. I don't find money attractive. I also like the idea of a handsome strong man. It's a real insult to me that high status should be what I as a woman am meant to be attracted to.

Anyway, people will always have their theories, usually made to justify their actions, all I can say is science or not, evidence or not - I'm attracted to young good looking men and don't see that ever changing.

Liviana said at November 17, 2008 8:46 PM:

These studies are biased. I choose men for everything but money.

Too much television... Men are mainly responsible for attracting this type of woman.

Actually, most these studies prove nothing, as if people cannot experience or analyze actual life.

Anonymous said at December 29, 2009 8:52 PM:

Nice, but I highly doubt the average man is sitting there pondering the intricacies of reproductive biology and how it effects the survival of the species, when he is looking for a mate to settle down with. I think that it is a lot more subjective than that. From my experience, I have seen that is depends on the man. It depends on how secure he is with himself, how sensitive his ego is and what kind of values he was raised with.

Angela D said at December 29, 2009 8:57 PM:

@Turnbuckle: And with an attitude like that it is not surprising that you do not have a 'great paying, rewarding career.'

Anonymous said at April 22, 2010 1:17 PM:

Heather I agree with you a thousand percent; I am also not a lesbian (nor bisexual) but I can assure you I have been accused of that. Men are hunters by nature and once women see that and stop seeing what they want to see, they will be a lot better off. Second I am tired of hearing the IQ testing, there are many levels of intelligence; I feel that IQ testing are forms of discrimination. Men don't want women who can see through their BS, so they will discredit them and call them gay, or weird, etc. Men make great friends (without benefits) and business partners, Oh one more thing you are so right, I was one of those women when a man was in a relationship with they would try to "cut a fool" in front of friends, even the women they leave me for. Sometimes I think that not being able to keep a man is an honorable thing.

Guest said at February 19, 2011 5:31 PM:

Also, keep in mind that there aren't many women in college these days. Many of them are becoming pregnant and dropping out.

Adele Clarke said at December 4, 2011 4:32 AM:

Ofcourse, lower status women will lower the success of the family overall. A lower status women is in her position for a reason. She wants to be. Lower status women often are lazy and don't want to do the work to improve their lives but want men to pick the slack so to speak, raise their status through the marriage and his title in society. ( I am not including lower status women with low IQ's here) Lets face it, the less educated the woman, the more she has had to use manipulation tactics to get what she wants. For really intelligent and highly successful men, a lower status woman is a chain and ball. How can they advance as a family and give all their children the best opportunities if mother is reading recipes and and worrying about home decor? With a higher status women, she has most likely learned all these things quickly, ( her exposer in childhood to high culture is most likely greater )and just hires out so that she has more time with her kids and her husband at the end of the day. Also, a lower status woman sends a message to her children about marriage and power within the marriage, and often her offspring don't necessarily choose men that respect women entirely.
But insecure men, don't want an equal. They don't want a powerful team player. They want someone who thinks they are the most wonderful man in the world, and not someone who knows that they are just like anyone else. MOney sets up power, so having money makes the man feel like he is in charge. The woman that works as the court reporter, or secretary or something low key, is the chump change gal...

A smart woman chooses a very successful man to have children with... one of higher status and higher IQ so that the chances of survival for her children are much higher. She has to be smart enough to know the difference, which makes her smart. Smart men aren't always that smart.Often it is only about how she makes him feel. He doesn't think about anything other than himself. He isn't thinking about long term projections, or her IQ or how they will pay for Harvard.

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