A new UT study finds men are more likely to overestimate a women’s desire for them, whereas women in general tended to believe the men were less attracted to them than they actually were.
A new University of Texas study finds the more attractive the woman, the more a man thinks she is interested in him, while women, on the other hand, often underestimate men’s desire for them.
This new study was authored by Williams College psychologist Carin Perilloux and University of Texas at Austin psychology professor David Buss and graduate student Judith Easton. The report and its findings will appear in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science.
The research involved 96 male and 103 female undergraduates at UT; they were asked to first assess their attractiveness and level of desire for a short-term sexual encounter. They were then put through a speed-meeting exercise where they talked to five potential mates of the opposite sex for three minutes. After each meeting, the participants rated their partner on various features, including physical attractiveness and the amount of sexual interest they thought they had for themselves.
Several telling results were found from the exercise.
Men who were more interested in a casual hookup were more likely to overestimate the women’s desire for them. The men who rated themselves as being attractive also thought that the women were interested in them. However, the men that the women had rated as being good-looking were more likely to pick up on whether a woman was interested or not in them.
Women in general tended to believe men were less attracted to them than they actually were.
The researchers suggest that the tendency for males to overestimate a women’s desire in them may have been a beneficial factor in their reproductive success.
“There are two ways you can make an error as a man,” explains Perilloux. “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.”
However, the opposing error is a bit more costly. “She’s interested, and he totally misses out,” said Perilloux. “He misses out on a mating opportunity.”
Since men tend to believe a woman is interested in him, they will likely pursue them, thus increasing their chances of reproducing.
This research may provide important insight for both sexes. Perilloux explains that women should be as communicative and clear as possible, while men should be aware that the more attractive you find a woman, the more likely you are to overestimate their interest.