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Study: Women Want Men Who Are Desired by Other Women

Researchers believe that science may explain how complete strangers influence our love and sex interests. A study out of Indiana University’s department of Psychological and Brain Sciences suggests that “mate-copying” behavior accounts for why several women may pursue the same man.

“If an observer thinks that a same-sex peer is interested in an opposite-sex potential mate, that will increase their own interest in that person,” researcher Skyler Place explains. “So if you’re a female observer and you see other women interested in a man, that will increase your interest in him. You’re copying the mate choices of others.”

This is why celebrities that appear to be good partners may attract the attention of onlookers and why some people are more desirable when they have a partner as opposed to when they are single and available.

The study asked 40 men and 40 women to rate photos of the opposite sex and then watch the same subjects interact in speed dating sessions.

The results suggest that participants offered higher ratings for those subjects who had been on what was deemed a successful date. Researchers say this is evidence of mate-copying.

“While a lot of people think their decisions are independent it looks like, at least with dating, we pay a lot of attention to what’s going on around us and the decisions of other people,” explains Price.

Though both men and women were influenced by the video depictions, women showed a more pronounced decrease in interest in male subjects if the participants in the speed date did not seem interested in one another. By contrast, women's interest in the male video subjects increased if their female peers also appeared interested.

“The idea is if you walk into a room and there are 50 people there, you can’t talk to everyone. So whom do you choose to talk to first? You could talk to the most attractive person or you could see whom others are already interacting with. If you’re a female and all the other women are just talking to 10 men, the other 40 aren’t potentially good mates. It would seem it’s a cognitive short-cut.”


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