September 20, 2010
Low Stress Men More Attractive To Women

The ladies find more stressed guys less attractive.

Men with low stress levels are significantly more attractive to women than highly stressed rivals, according to new research conducted at the University of Abertay Dundee.

Dr Fhionna Moore, a Psychology Lecturer at Abertay University, led a research team investigating links between hormones and attractiveness. By analysing hormone levels in young men and developing ‘composite’ images of typical faces, they could judge how attractive a group of women found facial cues to different hormone levels.

The study – which is published (Wednesday 15 September) in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal – found a strong link between low levels of the stress hormone cortisol in men and how attractive they were to women. It also found no clear link between attractiveness and high levels of the sex hormone testosterone, as has been previously claimed.

Since low cortisol is also good for your long term health Swedish massage and chocolate can help you live longer and have a better love life. Can I trouble a reader to find out whether beer drinking also lowers cortisol? That'd be ideal.

When women are most fertile they find low stress levels more attractive. This has an obvious evolutionary explanation:

The study also showed that female attraction to men with low stress levels was at its highest during the fertile phase of the female menstrual cycle.

She added: “We believe that the link between low stress levels and high attractiveness to women is because an ability to handle stressful situations suggests a strong genetic make-up, the future suitability of a partner, and their ability to pass on ‘good genes’ to their children.

Similar cortisol and testosterone levels predicted greater attractiveness.

“Interestingly, our research also showed increased attractiveness for men with consistent hormone levels. So low cortisol and low testosterone, or high cortisol and high testosterone, were both found to be more attractive than one level being high and the other low.”

The high testosterone, high cortisol result is interesting. Such men probably burn brighter but burn out sooner.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 September 20 10:48 PM  Brain Sexuality

adam said at September 21, 2010 1:51 AM:

I just did a quick search and found that chronic drinking is associated with higher cortisol, but this may just be that higher cortisol drives people to drink more.

I didn't find anything suggesting moderate drinking, or beer in particular affects cortisol levels, but I didn't do anything close to an exhaustive search. And it's 10 'till 4, so it'll have to wait until tomorrow afternoon.

jaytee said at September 21, 2010 5:23 AM:

Perhaps this explains the sexy woman/overweight slobby man archetype currently prevalent in recent fictional media. See: King of Queens, Knocked Up....

mattbg said at September 21, 2010 8:54 AM:

Hehe... I'm at the point where I don't really care what is attractive to women. They can go and have fun with themselves and just leave me alone.

Brian said at September 21, 2010 9:39 AM:

This makes perfect sense (at least biologically). High cortisol and high testosterone result from exercise - not just a walk in the park, but high intensity resistance training. You know, like Fabio on the cover of all those romance novels back in the day. When both are high, it's because of good stress. When only cortisol is high, it's chronic and bad. Sleep is an issue too, because they're sleep deprived. They've got bags under their eyes, soft bodies, man-boobs, coffee-addicts, I know you've seen them. Not very attractive. What self-respecting woman would want to reproduce with that? It's not really a problem though, their sex-drives have sunk like an anchor in the ocean. As far as both being low, it must be their motherly instincts coming out because there's certainly not much reproductive (or attractive) potential there :-)

On to your question about beer. Don't do it, wheat plus cortisol is not a good combination. Instead, red wine is good (not white - too sugary) and most liquors. I prefer scotch on the rocks - or tequila.


PS. I'm not just a nut job. I'm a doctor. And this post was right in my wheelhouse. In fact, I'm publishing a post next week entitled, You Suck as a Man and it's right along these lines. I'll let you know when it's up.

Mercer said at September 22, 2010 7:49 AM:

I think this contradicts claims that women want a high status "alpha" mate. Most high income/status occupations, lawyers/doctors/CEOs, are high stress. Have you ever heard women say they did not want a lawyer or doctor as a mate?

Dale said at September 22, 2010 1:41 PM:

Mercer, perhaps it proves more that women want things that are immposible to get in real life - they want a guy who's on top of the food chain, but who doesn't sweat at night about loosing his position, and mantains sort of hippie attitude towards it. One more reason for me not to care much about women.

mattbg said at September 23, 2010 7:57 AM:

Dale, that's the right attitude :)

I mean, if a guy is high-stress then he is more likely to die younger and leave money behind for the wife.

What women really want is someone who can do their dirty work for them while keeping their own image relatively spotless. Shakespeare knew this. We haven't caught up with him yet.

A lot of these evolutionary explanations for things are reverse-engineered if not made up and tested against what's plausible. I'm still waiting for one of these evolutionary people to explain the purpose of homosexual jealousy to me, too... they have all kinds of rational explanations for why male/females would be jealous.

Dale said at September 24, 2010 4:31 PM:

Yeah, that's one thing, also how can evolutionary psychology possibly explain sexual phenomena like necrophfilia, zoophilia... genuine granny porn afficionados. Not to mention someone has yet to come up with a testable proof that some empirically pinpointable sexual brain modules are inherited from generation to generation like you inherit your eye colour and stuff. I try to follow the field on ocassions and recently read a study that had been concluded a year ago on hunter-gatherer tribe of Hadza ( Africa, about 1000 of them ), it turned out that to their women neither muscles nor height are relevant when choosing a mate ( altough the former a little more relevant than the latter ), moreover height was found to be inversely corelated with hunting returns. Great, now I only have to become a Hadza.

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