Help yourself by helping others: Nice guys and girls are sexier, study shows
Evolutionary biologists reveal that reports of altruism make a potential mate - even for a short-term fling - seem more attractive
Helping others doesn’t just make you feel good about yourself – it also increases your chances of having sex, a study has revealed.
Altruistic acts of kindness, from helping the elderly cross the road to donating bone marrow, made hypothetical objects of affection more sexually attractive to men and women in an experiment run by the University of Nottingham.
Scientists analysed the responses of 32 heterosexual women and 35 heterosexual men who were asked to rate how attractive they found a prospective partner based on a given list of known behaviours, characteristics and activities.
Working in collaboration with the Liverpool John Moores University, researchers found that both sexes rated someone as more attractive for a potential long-term relationship if they exhibited selflessness – though nice guys appeared to benefit more than nice girls.
While evolutionary biologists anticipated this outcome – with altruism identified as both a positive genetic and non-genetic trait for bringing up children – what was surprising was the fact that the same applied even when the proposed “relationship” would be a short-term fling.
When asked how attractive they found someone for a brief sexual encounter with little chance of conception, women were still drawn to men who exhibited selflessness. The same was less true, however, for men.
Dr Freya Harrison, a Research Fellow in The University of Nottingham’s Life Sciences Centre for Biomolecular Sciences, and senior author of the report said: “At first glance, it’s difficult to see how natural selection could favour behaviours that involve investing significant time and resources to help others at a cost to oneself.
“We now know that ‘altruistic’ helping can actually increase evolutionary fitness in various ways — people might preferentially help their relatives, with whom they share genes, or they might target their helping toward others who are likely to reciprocate in the future.”
Dr Harrison added that an additional factor that researchers have started to investigate is that “altruistic” acts might make someone more attractive to the opposite sex, increasing their chances of having children and passing on their genes.
“We’re not sure whether being helpful to others signals that you’re more likely to be a good parent who helps your partner with the work involved in raising children, or whether it might be a signal that you carry ‘good genes’ that will produce healthy children — having the energy and ability to help others might be a show of vigour, rather like a peacock’s tail. It would be really interesting for future work to try to tease these two possibilities apart.”
Dr David Moore, Senior Lecturer in Psychology from Liverpool John Moores University, said: “This study adds to a growing body of research which tries to explain why nice guys (and girls) might not always finish last!”
The full study — “Selflessness is sexy: reported helping behaviour increases desirability of men and women as long-term sexual partners” can be read online here.
- 1 BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
- 2 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
- 3 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 4 Motorists taunt suicidal woman on bridge and tell her to 'get on with it'
- 5 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...
£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...
£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...