Scientifically, nice (heterosexual) guys might actually finish last. A study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin recently found that while men were attracted to nice-seeming women upon meeting them, women did not feel the same way about men. Researchers from the University of Rochester, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya in Israel investigated a possible mechanism explaining why women and men differ in their sexual reactions with receptive opposite-sex strangers.
One hundred and twelve undergraduate students volunteered for the study at a university in central Israel. The volunteer pool was split evenly between men and women, and participants were paired randomly with an opposite-sex individual they hadn’t met before. The study examined burgeoning sexual interest and the participants’ feelings on the possibility of long-term dating with their new “partners,” and how those connected to their perceptions of a personality trait the study calls “responsiveness.”
In the study, responsiveness is defined as a characteristic “that may signal to potential partners that one understands, values and supports important aspects of their self-concept and is willing to invest resources in the relationship.” A limitation of this definition, the authors state, is that the concept of “responsiveness” is ultimately elusive—it can mean different things to different people. Nevertheless, the researchers felt they could use their definition to help get at some of the different ways men and women perceive potential partners.