Happy Guys Finish Last: Nonverbal Emotion Displays and Attraction

Attraction Study Nonverbal Communication Emotion Display Happiness

It’s no surprise that girls are attracted to bad buys, and a new study only reinforces that notion…sorry nice guys. A study focusing on nonverbal communication at the University of British Columbia found happy guys were seen as less attractive than men who were swaggering or brooding.

Our culture often thinks of smiling as a necessary tool in daily interaction, and especially in dating. But, findings revealed a significant gender difference in the attractiveness of smiles. While women found it less attractive if a man smiled, men found it more attractive when a women smiled.

So far, there has been little research on the attractiveness of emotions. The study, which was published in the American Psychological Association journal Emotion and led by Professor Jessica Tracy of University of British Columbia’s Department of Psychology, also is the first of its kind to look at the attractiveness of pride and shame displays.

Attraction Study Nonverbal Communication Emotion Pride

In a series of studies, over 1,000 people participated. The participants viewed hundreds of images of the opposite sex and rated their attractiveness. The images were divided into three universal displays of emotion: happiness (broad smiles), pride (raised heads, puffed-up chests), and shame (lowered heads, averted eyes).

Out of all three, women thought smiling was the least attractive, while men found pride the least attractive display by women. The study made it clear that they were not looking for mate potential, but rather only looking at initial first impressions of sexual attraction.

Attraction Study Nonverbal Communication Emotion Shame

They believe these views are created by evolution, where pride was formerly seen as a sign of status and ability to provide. The nonverbal displays, such as the puffed-up chest, also emphasize the most attractive male physical features as proven by research: body size and muscularity. Smiling may also be seen as unattractive, because previous research associates it with a lack of dominance.

Researchers believe shame was found attractive because it is associated with an awareness of social norms and appeasement behaviors, which elicits trust in others. And all people desire to trust their mate.

Researchers say that in the future they would like to look into homosexual and non-western cultures to see how the results vary. They also noted that men found women more attractive than women found men.

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