Guys, if you want to get the ladies, then you better listen up. A new study reveals that females like guys who are good listeners. Inspired by Charles Darwin’s theory that female preferences shape mating signals in men, researchers at the University of Melbourne tested this theory in moths.
In the field experiment, scientists studied how the insects communicated in Melbourne’s Royal Park, which has a large moth population. They found that females release a tiny amount of sex pheromones to attract their desired mates — those with large antennae. Males with this attractive feature are able to pick up on the minute pheromone levels whereas those with shorter antennae cannot.
"Our data suggest that by releasing smaller amounts of pheromone, the female increases the likelihood of attracting males with longer antennae,” says study co-author Professor Mark Elgar in a statement. “These males may be better mates because producing and maintaining a large sensory structure is costly and possible for higher quality males only. Those male qualities may be passed onto her offspring,"
If the first amount of pheromones don’t bring all the moths to the yard, then the females release more. However, scientists believe the second stringers are perceived to be poorer quality mates as they have shorter antennae and couldn’t pick up on the initial signals.
Darwin believed that males essentially advertise their qualities. After the female decides he’s up to par and mating ensues, those desired traits are passed down.
"But Darwin also proposed that sexual selection can favour males who are better at detecting and responding to signals from females, including chemical signals like pheromones,” says Elgar. "So males with sensory structures that can better detect female signals may have the edge in finding them in order to mate and pass on their genes.”
Of course this study was conducted in insects and not humans, but it’s not surprising that female humans would be attracted to good listeners who pick up on cues and flirting. Another thing that can make a man more attractive? Being kind. A very small study in 2014 showed that people were more attracted to those with positive personality traits, like honesty.
In what some scientists call the George Clooney Effect, one study showed that more financially independent women prefer older men. As females earn more, their tastes change to favor older, more attractive males. Less emphasis is placed on economic stability.
And one last tip for men: if you’re looking for a booty call then go ahead and sport some stubble. But if it’s long-term love you seek, opt for a full on beard. A study published this year showed that women who were looking for flings were more attracted to guys with a five o’clock shadow. Bearded men were more favorable amongst those looking for something serious.