Why do nice guys finish last? It’s all about hormones, according to a new study.
Research from Kristina Durante, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) College of Business, shows that hormones associated with ovulation influence women’s perception of men as potential fathers.
“Previous research has shown in the week near ovulation women become attracted to sexy, rebellious and handsome men like George Clooney or James Bond,” said Durante. “But until now it was unclear why women would ever think it’s wise to pursue long-term relationships with these kinds of men.”
In her first study, women viewed online dating profiles of either a sexy man or a reliable man during periods of high and low fertility. The women were asked to guess how much help they could expect from the men in caring for the baby and around the house. As the women got nearer to ovulation, they thought the sexy man would contribute more to these domestic duties.
“Under the hormonal influence of ovulation, women delude themselves into thinking that the sexy bad boys will become devoted partners and better dads,” said Durante. “When looking at the sexy cad through ovulation goggles, Mr. Wrong looked exactly like Mr. Right.”
In another study, women interacted directly with male actors who played the roles of sexy cad and reliable dad once during ovulation and again at low fertility. Again, ovulating women thought that the sexy cad — but not the reliable dad — would contribute more to childcare, but only if she were his partner.
“When asked about what kind of father the sexy bad boy would make if he were to have children with another woman, women were quick to point out the bad boy’s shortcomings,” said Durante. “But when it came to their own child, ovulating women believed that the charismatic and adventurous cad would be a great father to their kids.”
“While this psychological distortion could be setting some women up to choose partners who are better suited to be short-term mates, missing a mating opportunity with a sexy cad might be too costly for some women to pass up,” Durante continued. “After all, you never know if he could be the ‘one.'”
“Ovulation Leads Women to Perceive Sexy Cads as Good Dads” was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.