Researchers at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands have found that women are more attracted to rugged men like Chris Hemsworth and Jason Momoa during times of uncertainty.
According to Mail Online, the look is defined by a sharper nose and chin, more angular jawbone, and higher cheekbones. But under the same circumstances, men tend to be more attracted to women with ‘tender’ faces like Selena Gomez, featuring smoother lines, shadows and outer facial contour, as well as more rounded lips, cheeks, and nose tip.
The authors gathered that this is because of ‘increased desire for a stereotypical partner type inferred from such facial features’.
For the men, this is what they see as caring, but for a woman this is a man they see as strong, as it ‘provide[s] a feeling of predictability’.
‘These results show that partner preferences are not fixed, but are affected by fleeting psychological states, such as feelings of uncertainty due to external, unpredictable events,’ they wrote.
For many of us, the past few years have been chaotic, to say the least, with the COVID-19 pandemic, cost of living crisis and ever-changing government.
These external factors can affect our health in a myriad of ways, including through sleep deprivation, brain fog, and depression.
During times of uncertainty, studies have shown that people tend to search for order and structure, sometimes by increasing their support for religion, the government or conspiracy theories.
For their study, published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, researchers wanted to assess whether periods of unpredictability impact the type of partner people go for.
They recruited students and individuals from the Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) work-distribution website to take part in three studies.
For the first study, 173 MTurk workers were told to write a story with a maximum of 100 words about a situation where they felt certain or uncertain, reflecting on how they felt at the time.
Certain times might feature financial stability and job security, while uncertain times may involve financial crisis or shifts in political climate. They were then presented with four different male or female faces which had been digitally altered to look more tough or tender.
Women are more attracted to rugged men like Chris Hemsworth and Jason Momoa during times of uncertainty, study finds
The participants were asked to rate the faces on their attractiveness, likeability and how much they would like to go on a date with them.
In the second study, 174 students again had to write a story about an uncertain or certain period in their life.
Next, they had to imagine they were looking for a date, and indicate the extent they would be drawn towards a caring or strong partner.
After analysing the results of the two studies, the researchers found that women found tougher male faces and stronger partners more attractive after reflecting on times of uncertainty than certainty.
Men, however, rated tender faces more highly and looked for a more caring partner under uncertain conditions over certain ones.
For the third study, 141 students were asked to either think of a caring partner who ‘makes [them] feel at home and is comforting’ or a strong partner who ‘provides protection and [they] can rely on when needed’.
They were then told to imagine they were looking to date someone who fits that brief, and asked to rate the faces from the first study by attractiveness.
The results showed that people saw tender facial features as caring and tougher facial features as strong when presented by the opposite sex.
The researchers wrote: ‘We show that when facing uncertainty, women are more attracted to men with tougher versus more tender facial features, whereas men are more attracted to women with more tender versus tougher facial features.
‘These findings have implications for our understanding of how and why partner preferences are influenced by uncertainty.’