September 30, 2009
Women Prefer Taken Guys

Oklahoma State University researchers Melissa Burkley and Jessica Parker demonstrate an aspect of female desire that I've certainly experienced: women prefer taken guys.

Unknown to the participants, everyone was offered a fictitious candidate partner who had been tailored to match their interests exactly. The photograph of "Mr Right" was the same for all women participants, as was that of the ideal women presented to the men. Half the participants were told their ideal mate was single, and the other half that he or she was already in a romantic relationship.

"Everything was the same across all participants, except whether their ideal mate was already attached or not," says Burkley.

The most striking result was in the responses of single women. Offered a single man, 59 per cent were interested in pursuing a relationship. But when he was attached, 90 per cent said they were up for the chase.

You might think these women are unethical.

Roissy would not find these results surprising. Lots of us have had the experience of getting hit on by more women after they've seen a really attractive women hanging on us. That's been my experience.

So what's going on here? Women go with the herd. If some woman likes a guy enough to want to be attached to him this becomes evidence for other women that he's worth going after. For a guy a beautiful woman can serve as a powerful demonstration of higher value. I think there's a potential business here for a specialized escort service where women sell time with them in public places to guys who want to advertise their desirability.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 September 30 09:58 PM  Brain Sex Differences


Comments
David Govett said at September 30, 2009 10:06 PM:

Time to put out a sign in the front yard.

Carl Shulman said at September 30, 2009 10:52 PM:

There is such a wingwoman service, it was profiled in the New York Times.

roissy said at October 1, 2009 6:08 AM:

neil strauss' girlfriend, ghita, used to provide just this service up in montreal. not sure if she still does. social proof/preselection works. the problem is that it's a crutch. it works so well it won't help the client learn any game. a man could substitute wedding ring game for a live female companion in a pinch.

Joshua said at October 1, 2009 6:12 AM:

What's surprising to me isn't that women take the fact that a man is attached as evidence that the man is worth having (or perhaps that unattached men who seem perfect in every other respect probably have a good reason they're unattached), it's that they would be interested in pursuing. If they win that seems like really strong evidence that he won't remain faithful. That seems to indicate that faithfulness isn't something women value highly. Or are they suffering from an optimistic bias that they will be able to hold on to a man that their rivals couldn't?

kurt9 said at October 1, 2009 9:02 AM:

I've always noticed that other women check me out more when I'm out with my wife than when I am alone.

James Bowery said at October 1, 2009 10:15 AM:

Its Africanization of behavior arising from sexual liberation and women's liberation. Women did this a lot less when monogamy was enforced by female dependence on male support.

Jay F said at October 1, 2009 9:26 PM:

I posted about this study on a relationships forum with a large female audience. So far the women are defensive and deny that women behave this way. They claim the study is BS and that women prefer single over taken men. Interesting that men know this dynamic exists while women deny it. But what they say and do can be two totally different things.

Eric said at October 2, 2009 4:12 AM:

@Joshua

>That seems to indicate that faithfulness isn't something women value highly. Or are they suffering from an optimistic bias that they will be able to hold on to a man that their rivals couldn't?

I think you are right in both :)

Cargo du Mystère said at October 2, 2009 2:49 PM:

Reminds me of pinball machine displays "It's more fun to compete" .

averros said at October 3, 2009 1:40 AM:

Having a beautiful girlfriend helps to get interest from other women only to a some extent.

When your g/f is so obviously superior to any other female around (top-model territory plus obvious style and intellect) the other pretendents stop bothering to hit on you - simply because they understand that their chances are nil.

John said at October 3, 2009 5:13 AM:

Women may find a "taken" man more attractive for various reasons: he's at least somewhat "normal" if he has a girlfriend; he's possibly got provider qualities if he can maintain a stable relationship; etc. In other words, the woman may sense that it's more possible the man has at least some demonstrated qualities that would make him a desirable mate.

Anthony D'Amato said at October 4, 2009 8:32 PM:

Single men are more likely to turn out to be sadists.

Anthony D'Amato said at October 4, 2009 8:35 PM:

Single men are more likely to turn out to be sadists.

phoo said at October 6, 2009 2:21 PM:

Anthony, that's a strong claim to make without any citation.

averros said at October 7, 2009 2:54 AM:

"Single men are more likely to turn out to be sadists."

Says who? And how does he know?

Besides, what is causation (being single makes one a sadist, or being a sadist makes harder to find S.O. (plausible), both come from some other common cause, or is it just coincidence)?

Anonymous said at January 15, 2010 6:46 PM:

All is not lost guys...

For those of you who are single... Simply make loads of hot female friends, and start going out together...
Imagine walking into a busy bar or night club with you and 10 hot female friends behind you... ;)

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