Hard to believe maybe after all the fuss about erotic capital and the obsession with beauty in the media.
But according to psychologists at York University men are learning to value women for their intelligence and character rather than their curves and cooking skills (so tough if you are a Nigella).
They say that in Western societies, such as the UK and especially Scandinavia, where men and women have equal rights there has been a sharp decline in men’s traditional obsession with the appearance of their partner (maybe they didn’t include trophy wives in their research or Eastern Europe where the photo was taken).
Unfortunately for men in these societies women are showing an opposite trend and attaching far more importance to men’s looks.
Traditionally women have looked for partners who can afford to invest in them and any children but this approach has declined.
Of course women are doing better in their careers and earnings than ever before and some consider themselves quite capable of supporting themselves without male support. And it’s not a complete reversal, just a shift in emphasis.
And the findings don’t support the evolutionary psychology view that our mate preferences are hard-wired due to our evolution. So beauty is simply a way for men to assess a women’s fertility and a man’s wealth indicates his ability to support a wife and children.
The psychologists who carried out the study (see below) say it suggests that we can shed some evolutionary baggage. So men shouldn’t need to worry about building up wealth before they have kids (and if you read the tabloids there are plenty of lads on benefits who obviously have nothing else to do but father kids).
But men should probably take more care of themselves and their appearance. And women, next time a man gives you the once-over it may not just be your body he’s weighing up!
The study, based on 12,000 people in 30 countries, was published in Psychological Science. The researchers, Zentner and Mitura, asked people what they valued in a potential partners and then correlated it with a standard measure of gender gaps across the world – an index devised by the World Economic Forum incorporating work and educational opportunities, and political empowerment.
In case you are interested Iceland is the best place for a working women. OK its cold but they have a women President, volcanoes that disrupt airlines, the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, and for a country with smaller population than Manchester or Liverpool it has musicians such as Bjork, The SugarCubes and Sigur Ros.
The UK is 16th – behind most of Europe but ahead of America and Canada (which surprised me as I thought Canada was very PC after I was told off for referring to a waitress when I should have said server!)