Men Agree Who's Hot, Women Don't

Men find thin, seductive women attractive, while women tend to disagree on what makes a potential mate hot. (Image credit: Stockxpert.)

Thin and seductive, that's what men find attractive in women. But the ladies are less in agreement over what makes for a hot guy, new research finds.

The news is good for guys who might think they're not the hottest hunks. But it also means more competition for the hottest chicks, scientists say.

"Men agree a lot more about who they find attractive and unattractive than women agree about who they find attractive and unattractive," said study researcher Dustin Wood, assistant professor of psychology at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

The study included more than 1,300 heterosexual men, about 2,700 heterosexual women, about 125 homosexual men and about the same number of homosexual women. The average age of participants was about 28 years old, and ranged from 18 to more than 70.

Participants each rated nearly 100 photographs of either men or women, depending on the participant's gender and sexual orientation. They scored how attractive they found each photographed individual on a 10-point scale from "not at all" to "very" attractive.

Previously, the researchers had judged each of the photos for various factors of attractiveness, including how seductive, confident, thin, sensitive, stylish, curvaceous (women), muscular (men), traditional, masculine/feminine, classy, well-groomed, or upbeat the person in the image looked.

What men want: Despite another recent study that found modern men are more interested in intelligent, educated women than in decades past, in the new study men tended to base their attractiveness ratings on women's physical features, giving stellar marks to those who looked thin and seductive. Most of the men in the study also rated photographs of women who looked confident as more attractive.

What women want: Women showed some preference for thin, muscular men. But they also disagreed over the hotness factor of many men, with some women giving a guy high attractiveness ratings while others scored the same guy as not attractive at all.

Do men actually agree more on what makes a person attractive or was there something about the photos that caused men to rate them in certain ways? To figure this out, the researchers turned to the homosexual ratings. Sure enough, gay men showed a greater consensus about attractiveness levels of photos of men than did straight women of those same photos.

And straight men also showed more consensus than lesbians in terms of attractiveness ratings of the photos of women.

The results, published in the June issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, have implications for the dating scene.

For instance, with varying ideas of which men are attractive, women may face less competition from other women on the prowl. Men, on the other hand, might face stiff competition from other guys who all have eyes for the same handful of potential mates. Men, therefore, may need to invest more time and energy into attracting and guarding their mates from other potential suitors, the researchers said.

Oh, and they do: After eons of evolution, men are hardwired to overspend and max out credit cards to attract mates, a study last year concluded.

Jeanna Bryner
Live Science Editor-in-Chief

Jeanna served as editor-in-chief of Live Science. Previously, she was an assistant editor at Scholastic's Science World magazine. Jeanna has an English degree from Salisbury University, a master's degree in biogeochemistry and environmental sciences from the University of Maryland, and a graduate science journalism degree from New York University. She has worked as a biologist in Florida, where she monitored wetlands and did field surveys for endangered species. She also received an ocean sciences journalism fellowship from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.