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The depressing truth of what men really think about smart women

Scientists at the University of Buffalo found that men find smart women “sexy” – but only in theory, as the Independent reports.

Heterosexual men often claim that they would prefer a woman who is more intelligent, but when confronted with one, they tend to be less attracted to her if she outsmarts them. Previous studies have shown that proximity makes someone more appealing, but the Buffalo study found the reverse.

According to a study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin revealed that an intelligent woman is perceived as more attractive only if there is a “psychological distance”. ‘Psychological distance’ is when individuals rely on abstracts to decide something regarding an event that is distant, in time, space, or is hypothetical.

Associate Professor Lora Park conducted six studies at which 650 participants took part in. “When men expected to interact with a woman who was spatially distant (e.g., in another room), they expressed greater desire to interact with her when she outperformed versus under performed them [in intelligence],” the paper stated. “However, when men interacted with a real woman who was spatially near (e.g., in a face-to-face interaction), men showed less romantic interest and desire to interact with her when she outperformed versus under performed them.”

Park explained that men might feel a “momentary shift in their self-evaluation” when interacting with a woman who is smarter than them, leading them to feel less attracted to her. The disconnect might be between how they feel when there is a “psychological distance” and how they feel when “social comparison” occurs. Moreover, the disconnect only happened when the “domain” – in this instance, intelligence – mattered to the man.

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