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Men and women are psychologically, temperamentally, physically, and, as ♥SCIENCE♥ is now showing, perceptually different. How men and women perceive the opposite sex’s physical attractiveness varies greatly. What follows is a gem of a study that essentially vindicates the foundational elements of game and lends support to an understanding of the world that accounts for innate psychosexual differences between the sexes.

The abstract:

From an evolutionary perspective, beauty is regarded as an assessment of fitness value. The fitness value of a social partner can be influenced by both physical and nonphysical traits. It follows that the perceived beauty of a social partner can be influenced by nonphysical traits such as liking, respect, familiarity, and contribution to shared goals in addition to physical traits such as youth, waist-to-hip ratio, and bilateral symmetry. We present three studies involving the evaluation of known social partners showing that judgments of physical attractiveness are strongly influenced by nonphysical factors. Females are more strongly influenced by nonphysical factors than males and there are large individual differences within each sex. In general, research on physical attractiveness based on the evaluation of purely physical traits of strangers might miss some of the most important factors influencing the perception of physical attractiveness among known associates.

Reread for comprehension.

“Females are more strongly influenced by nonphysical factors than males…”

That’s the sex difference reality that pumps lifeblood through the heart of game. This is game set match for the losing “Only looks matter” psychosexuality reality denialist dorks, aka bedroom hermits.

We’ll unpack some of this badboy because it’s just that good.

A few studies have examined the effect of nonphysical factors on the judgment of physical attractiveness. Early studies that were not inspired by evolution include Gross and Crofton’s (1977) paper ‘‘What Is Good Is Beautiful,’’ written in response to Dion, Berscheid, and Walster’s (1972) landmark paper ‘‘What Is Beautiful Is Good,’’ and Nisbett and Wilson’s (1977) demonstration of a ‘‘halo effect’’ in which evaluations of one attribute of a person are generalized to influence evaluations of other attributes (see also Feingold 1992; Felson & Bohrenstedt, 1979; Owens & Ford, 1978). The famous ‘‘closing time effect’’ (Gladue & Delaney, 1990) demonstrates that simple availability can influence the perception of physical attractiveness. More recent studies inspired by evolutionary psychology show that social status (Townsend & Levy, 1990) and prosocial orientation (Jensen-Campbell, West, & Graziano, 1995) enhance perception of physical attractiveness.

The evidence in the bolded part is likely capturing the effectiveness of social status and social savviness to a man’s perceived attractiveness.

Another problem is that most studies on physical attractiveness—including the few that examine nonphysical factors—are based on the evaluation of strangers. Moreover, ac- cording to Langlois et al. (2000, p. 408), ‘‘most of the research we reviewed categorized people into two levels of attractiveness, high or low.’’ Comparing the ends of the dis- tribution exaggerates the consistency with which people rate others as physically attractive based on physical traits. These widespread methods are problematic from an evolutionary perspective. In ancestral social environments, interactions took place in small groups of people whose physical attributes were roughly average and whose nonphysical attributes were intimately known to each other. The psychological mechanisms that evolved to integrate these factors into an overall assessment of physical attractiveness might not be engaged by the artificial conditions of psychological experiments, even those that attempt to examine nonphysical factors.

This will be no news to men who routinely hit the field to meet women. Artificial psych experiments are simply inadequate at picking up those subtle nonphysical cues of social status that women find so enticing in men. That’s why there are so few lab experiments testing the real world efficacy of game; it’s just hard to replicate that feedback intensive environment and those high level psychological interactions in a lab.

We present three studies that were conducted in this spirit. The first added a twist to the method of evaluating photographs by having people evaluate the photographs of known individuals in their high school yearbooks. The second and third studies were conducted on actual groups of interacting individuals. In the second study, evaluation by group members was compared to evaluation by strangers based on photographs. In the third study, group members evaluated each other when the group was initially formed and again after a period of interaction, providing the strongest test of the effect of nonphysical factors on the assessment of physical attractiveness.

This part is quoted for informational purposes. The third study looks the most interesting from a game perspective.

To summarize the results of our first study, the perception of physical attractiveness appeared to be highly influenced by knowing the people and their nonphysical traits. It was not familiarity per se that was important in most cases—otherwise familiarity would have been the most important independent variable in the multiple regressions—but what is known and how it is evaluated in terms of liking and respect.

The authors discuss causation and correlation problems, and how they solved them, which you can read at the linked study above. Bottom line: If a girl doesn’t like you or respect you, she will perceive you as uglier than you really are. Likewise, the inverse. This is why girlfriends and wives in happy relationships often feel their men are better looking now than when they first met them.

A description of two team members will make the results of [the second] study more vivid and intuitive. One of the five males was a ‘‘slacker’’ who obviously was not pulling his weight, either literally or figuratively. He was the primary object of negative gossip and social control efforts, such as teasing and inspecting his bedroom window when he failed to show up for practice. He was uniformly rated as physically ugly by team members. Another of the five males was the opposite of the slacker, working so hard that he was discussed as possibly a contender for the U.S. Olympic team. He was uniformly rated as physically attractive by team members. This large difference in perceived physical attractiveness did not exist for raters who knew nothing about the contributions of the two men to the team.

This is direct evidence that when a woman is aware of a man’s high social status, she will find him more facially attractive. But the most conclusive evidence for status-based and tractable male physical attractiveness (and conversely, intractable female physical attractiveness) comes in part three.

[In the third study], initial rating of physical attractiveness accounted for only 9.3% of the variation in final rating of physical attractiveness for females rating females, 19.2% for females rating males, and 62% for males rating females. The remaining independent variables were highly correlated with each other and with the residual variation, as in our other two studies. Liking was the next variable to be entered in all three analyses and none of the other factors explained the residual variation after the addition of liking.

First impressions are way more important to men (as a function of women’s ability to attract men) than they are to women. If a man thinks a woman is hot, he’ll pretty much still think that after he gets to know her, no matter how bad her personality. Women, in contrast, will vary a lot between their first impressions and later impressions once they get to know the man.

Our third study is methodologically the strongest by avoiding the use of photographs and employing before-and-after ratings of physical attractiveness by the same person rather than ratings by a separate stranger. Nevertheless, the results of our third study are fully consistent with our other two studies. Among people who actually know and interact with each other, the perception of physical attractiveness is based largely on traits that cannot be detected from physical appearance alone, either from photographs or from actually observing the person before forming a relationship. The effect of nonphysical factors on the perception of physical attractiveness is strongest for females rating females, females rating males, and males rating males. It is weaker but still highly significant for males rating females.

The weakest effect of nonphysical factors on physical attractiveness is among males rating females, which is evidence validating evolutionary psychology theory that men are more looks-focused and women are more holistic in their appraisals of the appeal of the opposite sex. Nevertheless, men do think women can look a little better if they are also charming and likable, which proves the CH precept that femininity can boost a woman’s SMV by a half point. (Not insignificant when you consider that SMV is measured on a 10 point scale.)

Our studies were designed to address two shortcomings in the literature on physical attractiveness: (1) a relative paucity of studies that examine the effects of both nonphysical and physical factors on the assessment of physical attractiveness and (2) a relative paucity of studies that involve people who actually know each other. All three studies demonstrate that nonphysical factors have a very potent effect on the perception of physical attractiveness, which can persist for decades in the case of the middle-aged participants of our yearbook study.

Alert the manboob media! Science ♥proves♥ that GAME WORKS, and continues working right into the later years of life.

Physical traits per se are especially important in sexual relationships because they will be partially inherited by one’s offspring. Thus, it makes sense that males are more influenced by physical features when evaluating females than when evaluating males, although the comparable asymmetry did not exist for females.

Men dig beauty.
Chicks dig power.
Feminists wept.

Our studies also reveal individual differences within each sex that rival between-sex differences and that merit further study. In particular, individual differences are increasingly being studied in game theoretic terms as alternative social strategies, such as cooperation versus exploitation (Wilson, Near, & Miller, 1996, 1998) or high-investment versus low-investment mating strategies (Gangestad & Simpson, 2000). In future research it will be interesting to see if people who differ in these respects also differ in the factors that influence their perceptions of physical attractiveness.

Otherwise known as r-selection versus K-selection. Yes, it would be interesting to see which way the sexual culture is blowing. I kind of have an idea.

For example, are women from father-absent homes, who appear to adopt a reproductive strategy based on low male investment (Draper & Harpending, 1982, Ellis, McFadyen-Ketchum, Dodge, Pettit & Bates, 1999), more influenced by purely physical traits in males than those from father-present homes?

Answer from my purely observational, unscientific point of view: Yes. Or: Game — aka the nonphysical aspects of attraction — works better on smart, emotionally stable chicks from intact families. Now there’s a counter-intuitive that’ll really stick in the craw of anti-game haters!

In conclusion, thinking of beauty as an assessment of fitness value leads to the prediction that nonphysical factors should have a strong effect on the perception of physical attractive- ness. In addition, naturalistic studies are needed to fully understand how physical and nonphysical factors are integrated in the perception of physical attractiveness. If we were to state our results in the form of a beauty tip, it would be, ‘‘If you want to enhance your physical attractiveness, become a valuable social partner.’

Game, the art and leisure of becoming a valuable social partner.

As you can see from this study’s results, women trick themselves as much as men “trick” women using game. Remember that the next time you hear some feminist or manboob shrieking about how game is manipulative and deceptive. A woman deceives herself just fine without any help from a pick-up artist. Of course, she’ll get the help, because that’s what she wants.


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