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Young Women's Dating Behavior: Why/Why Not Date a Nice Guy?

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate why some women report a desire to date nice guys but prefer dating jerks. Specifically, young women's dating choices based on their reasons for dating in general and the attractive/unattractive traits that they perceive that a man possesses were explored. Popular texts offer evidence that young women may/may not select nice guys as dating partners because nice guys may/may not be able to provide them with what they want from their dating experiences. Scholarly texts offer evidence that the answer may lie in how the young woman perceives the nice guy—does he possess attractive or unattractive personality traits? The results of the present study suggest that reasons for dating (i.e., not wanting physical contact, wanting stimulating conversation, and wanting an exclusive relationship) and perceived personality traits (i.e., sweet/nice and physically attractive) influence a young woman's desire to date a nice guy, and that perceived personality traits are better predictors of her choice of a man to date than are reasons for dating.
Sex Roles, Vol. 53, Nos. 5/6, September 2005 ( C2005)
DOI: 10.1007/s11199-005-6758-z
Young Women’s Dating Behavior: Why/Why
Not Date a Nice Guy?
Anita K. McDaniel1,2
The purpose of this study was to investigate why some women report a desire to date nice guys
but prefer dating jerks. Specifically, young women’s dating choices based on their reasons for
dating in general and the attractive/unattractive traits that they perceive that a man possesses
were explored. Popular texts offer evidence that young women may/may not select nice guys
as dating partners because nice guys may/may not be able to provide them with what they
want from their dating experiences. Scholarly texts offer evidence that the answer may lie
in how the young woman perceives the nice guy—does he possess attractive or unattractive
personality traits? The results of the present study suggest that reasons for dating (i.e., not
wanting physical contact, wanting stimulating conversation, and wanting an exclusive rela-
tionship) and perceived personality traits (i.e., sweet/nice and physically attractive) influence
a young woman’s desire to date a nice guy, and that perceived personality traits are better
predictors of her choice of a man to date than are reasons for dating.
KEY WORDS: nice guy; women; dating behavior; reasons; traits.
Women are not people that you have honest,
reciprocal relationships with. You “keep” a woman.
You “play the game” with a woman. There are
certain things contrary to the spirit of true, honest
companionship that a guy must do in order to
attract and have women, and no woman will ever
love you for who you are, no matter how nice a guy
you happen to be. You must first have A, B, and
C...regardless of the fact that A, B, and C (insert
social status, money, etc.) have nothing at all to do
with what a person is actually like.
Anonymous Man3
A common refrain among men is the observa-
tion that women do not like (or more appropriately,
1University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Wilmington, North
Carolina.
2To whom correspondence should be addressed at Depart-
ment of Communication Studies, University of North Carolina
at Wilmington, 601 South College Road, Wilmington, North
Carolina 28403-5933; e-mail: mcdaniela@uncw.edu.
3The anonymous man’s statement came from a personal email
communication written November 4, 2003. Permission was
granted by the author to use the statement in this paper and in
subsequent publications if anonymity was guaranteed.
do not want to date) nice guys. Popular cultural
texts that range from Kuriansky’s (1996) The Com-
plete Idiot’s Guide to Dating to Internet articles such
as Overthelimit.com’s “The Myth of the Nice Guy”
(Guy in a Trenchcoat, 2002) suggest that women
claim they want a “nice guy” because they believe
that that is what is expected of them when, in reality,
they want the so-called “challenge” that comes with
dating a not-so-nice guy. Scholarly texts seem to echo
this general claim, as does the opinion of the anony-
mous man.
The gentle, compassionate man who reads maga-
zine surveys indicating that his qualities are the very
ones that most women prefer in a mate may be
the same man who is repeatedly turned down by
women who seek the company of more atavistic
males. ...Women go for heroes while saying they
want vulnerability and later try to persuade their
partners to become more sensitive and vulnerable,
rather than initially pursuing sensitive and vulnera-
ble men (Desrochers, 1995, p. 376).
However, when women are asked about the
subject, they almost always claim to desire a nice
347 0360-0025/05/0900-0347/0 C
2005 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.
348 McDaniel
guy ...so long as he is not too nice (Gray, 1997).
What accounts for these contradictions? Are women
both attracted to and repelled by nice guys? In short,
why or why not date a nice guy?
Scholarly researchers who have attempted
to shed light on the nice guy dilemma based
their conclusions on one of three theoretical
frameworks—evolutionary theory, sexual strategies
theory, and social role theory. All three perspec-
tives have produced somewhat consistent results
with regard to mating preferences, however they
fall short of accounting for factors critical to the
nice guy phenomenon as it is articulated in pop-
ular culture. For instance, evolutionary theory as-
sumes that young dating individuals are in a per-
petual “ensure reproductive success” mode (i.e., to
ensure the production of healthy offspring and the
acquisition of resources to invest in those offspring;
Schmitt, Couden, & Baker, 2001). However, ac-
cording to anecdotal accounts, young women seem
to be more interested in unsuccessful reproduction
when in “casual dating” and “nonmarital, commit-
ted dating” modes (Beland, 2003; Moore & Gould,
2001).
Sexual strategies theory moderates the preoc-
cupation with reproductive success by placing this
tendency of dating individuals in a temporal con-
text. That is, according to this theory, women de-
velop short-term dating strategies such as using that
temporal context to assess the long-term potential of
a current partner (Buss & Schmitt, 1993). Unfortu-
nately, this perspective does not explain the anec-
dotal reality that nice guys seem to be chosen of-
ten for transitional dating and nothing more even
though they demonstrate long-term mate potential
(i.e., being kind and generous with their time and
money; Wills, 2000). Social roles theory assumes
that individuals are socialized to conform to stereo-
typic dating/mating expectations such as women’s
preference for men with maximum earning poten-
tial for long-term unions and men’s preference for
physically attractive women for short-term unions
(Doosje, Rojahn, & Fischer, 1999). The problem with
social roles theory is that it assumes traditional dat-
ing/mating expectations (i.e., women are predisposed
to wanting long-term relationships) and negates the
more contemporary dating/mating orientations avail-
able to women, which range from purely sexual one-
night stands (often spent in the company of “jerks”)
to completely asexual companion dating for which
nice guys seem anecdotally to be destined (Williams,
1999).
The purpose of this study was to investigate why
women report a desire to date nice guys but prefer
to date “jerks.” Specifically, young women’s dating
choices based on their reasons for dating in general
and the attractive/unattractive traits that they per-
ceive that a man possesses were explored. This issue
was approached inductively and phenomenogically
rather than deductively and theoretically. That is, the
likelihood of dating a nice guy or a “jerk” was treated
as an inferred event because it is related to a set of
actions/interactions/perceptions (Strauss & Corbin,
1990). Thus, emphasis was placed on both popular
accounts and academic explanations and conceptual-
izations of the nice guy phenomenon in order to de-
mystify it, rather than rely on theoretical frameworks
that do not seem to “get at” the problem adequately.
A first step toward demystifying the nice guy
phenomenon is to understand the role of dating
within the development of the romantic interper-
sonal relationship process. In Venus and Mars on
aDate, Gray (1997) discussed dating in terms of
a five-step strategy that moves romantic partners
toward more committed relationships.He indicated
that dating is a means of determining whether
potential romantic partners can and will meet each
other’s long-term relationship needs. Knapp’s (1984)
relationship stages/phases approach provides an
interpersonal communication foundation for Gray’s
popular interpretation of dating and relationship
development without the “long-term” stipulation.
Knapp’s model describes relationships in terms
of three phases (coming together, maintenance,
and coming apart) in which dating plays a signif-
icant role during initiation, experimentation, and
intensification—the coming together stages in which
the participants meet, exchange information about
themselves, spend time together, and become a
couple (Alder & Rodman, 2003). Baxter and Bullis
(1986) built upon Knapp’s “coming together–coming
apart” model by investigating turning points—events
that are related to positive and negative changes in
relationships. Among other things, respondents in
their investigation identified the first meeting and
the first date (i.e., the first time the respondents
regarded themselves as going on a boy–girl date)
as types of “get to know you time” events with
positive relationship consequences (Baxter & Bullis,
1986).
Finally, the significance of a successful first
date to relationship escalation is highlighted when
first date scripts are taken into account. Laner and
Ventrone (2000) found that first date scripts among
Why/Why Not Date a Nice Guy? 349
college aged individuals are well known to both sexes
and highly predictable, and they speculated that ad-
herence to formulaic scripts influences the long-term
development potential of relationships. In short, dat-
ing is a necessary component of courtship, a requisite
component of romantic relationship escalation, and
behaviors specific to the first date must be enacted
appropriately to get the whole ball rolling. As such,
the interactive dynamic that occurs during early ac-
quaintanceship (the time between the first meeting
and just beyond the first date) seems to be significant
when making predictions about relationship trajec-
tories. Therefore, in order to respond to the central
question of the present study, it made sense to focus
on young women’s perceptions of the nice guy and
the “jerk” guy within the first meeting and first dat-
ing contexts.
A second step toward demystifying the nice guy
phenomenon is operationalizing the “nice guy” and
the “jerk guy” constructs. Multiple versions of the
“nice guy” construct appear in scholarly research.
For example, when asked to describe the stereotypic
nice guy in a study by Herold and Milhausen (1999),
female respondents perceived them as either losers
(men who were needy, weak, predictable, boring,
inexperienced, lacking confidence, and unattractive)
or good guys (men who were polite and willing to
wait for sex and who possessed a good personality,
high standards, and morals). Urbaniak and Kilmann
(2003) constructed their hypothetical “Nice Todd” as
kind, attentive, and emotionally expressive—a man
who is in touch with his feelings, doesn’t go for that
“macho stuff,” and puts his partner’s pleasures first
in the bedroom. Instead of designing a prototypi-
cal nice guy, Jensen-Campbell, Graziano, and West
(1995) manipulated prosocial and dominant quali-
ties to determine which combination of traits was
most desired by women for long-term relationships.
They conceptualized the “nice guy” as altruistic (will-
ing to concede to a partner’s interests), agreeable
(considerate, cooperative, generous, kind, and sym-
pathetic), and nondominant (introverted, quiet, re-
served, timid, and untalkative). In the present study
the “nice guy” was presented as a man whom young
women should want to date. Therefore, the “nice
guy” was operationalized as a man who is easily rec-
ognized by young women as a “good guy” who is just
a little “too nice”—a man who could be perceived as
having a good personality and being agreeable, eager
to please, and willing to wait for sex.
Conceptualizations of the “jerk guy” are as var-
ied as were those for the “nice guy” in academic texts.
In one study, when asked to describe the stereotypic
not-so-nice/jerk guy, female respondents noted the
rebel who was described as mysterious, daring, ar-
rogant, and dangerous; the macho man who was de-
scribed as strong and confident; the fun guy who was
described as adventurous, spontaneous, and outgo-
ing; and the sexy guy who was described as charm-
ing, good looking, and sexually experienced (Herold
& Milhausen, 1999). Urbaniak and Kilmann (2003)
created a composite of the macho man and sexy
guy called “Jerk Todd” who was portrayed as some-
what insensitive, self-absorbed, and macho—a man
who gets what he wants, doesn’t go for that “touchy-
feely stuff,” and can tell his partner what he wants
in bed. Jensen-Campbell et al. (1995) postulated that
a man who has resources but is unwilling to share
them is probably not an attractive mate, at least for a
long-term relationship. Their prototypical “jerk guy”
was nonaltruistic (watching out only for himself),
nonagreeable (rude, selfish, uncooperative, unkind,
and unsympathetic), and dominant (active, assertive,
bold, talkative, and verbal). In the present study a
“jerk guy” who was a viable dating alternative to the
“good guy who is just a little too nice” was presented.
In other words, appearing dateable (i.e., appealing
enough to attract a dating partner) was a priority for
the “jerk guy” because it is doubtful that many young
women would respond on a questionnaire that they
want to date a man who is arrogant, selfish, and un-
kind (due to the social appropriateness bias) even if
they had done so in the past. Therefore, the “jerk
guy” was operationalized as a man who is easily rec-
ognized by young women as a combination of the
“fun guy” and the “sexy guy”—a “not-so-nice” man
who could be perceived as exciting, physically attrac-
tive, charming, and assertive sexually ...a potentially
unstable combination (Cowan & Kinder, 1985).
One of the goals of the present study was to in-
vestigate the motive bias presented in popular texts
as an explanatory factor for young women’s dat-
ing/mating preferences. It made sense to include the
perspectives of popular texts given that the “women
don’t date nice guys” myth seems to have originated
and flourished there. Countless self-help books, mag-
azine articles, bulletin boards/chat rooms, and web-
sites have been dedicated to helping the nice guy be-
come more successful at attracting women, steering
women away from the relationship pitfalls associated
with dating jerks, or creating an open forum for de-
bating the myth. In those texts that specifically ad-
dress the nice guy myth, there seems to be a clear
bias toward a woman’s motivation for dating as an
350 McDaniel
explanatory factor. That is, popular literature seems
to be replete with accounts of a woman selecting Man
X over Man Y because she seeks something specific
from her dating experience.
Some popular texts propose traditional motives
to explain why young women select one man over
another to date. Traditional motives imply that the
reasons for dating conform to acceptable sociocul-
tural norms—expectations that women either want
the benefits derived from dating a bad boy or are
in search of permanent relationships (i.e., “husband
hunting”). For example, the website columnist for
The Wet Spot, Williams (1999), suggested that there
are women who just prefer dangerous guys and do
very well with them. According to Cowan and Kinder
(1985), authors of Smart Women Foolish Choices,
some young women are looking for excitement. They
either want a man who will bring wild, stimulat-
ing, and unpredictable experiences into their lives or
compatibility with a dating partner whose lifestyle
matches theirs in terms of danger and chaos. An-
other website, www.sosuave.com, includes the com-
ments of women who seek the long-term relationship
advantages of dating nice guys. According to one 34-
year-old woman,
Until a woman is mature enough, really knows her-
self and is ready for a solid relationship, I believe
she will gravitate towards the ‘bad boys.’ Those re-
lationships don’t last, which deep down inside is fine
with her because she doesn’t really want it to. How-
ever, when she grows up (as I have now) she changes
her definition of what’s interesting and attractive—
the stability and predictability of a nice guy become
magnetic (Nice guys vs. jerks, 2003, para 2).
Other popular texts note motivations that lib-
erate young women from the traditional sociocul-
tural expectations when they select dating partners.
These texts remove the constraints of role expecta-
tions and encourage women to look beyond dating
as a means to a relationship end and to see it as
an experiential end in itself. In other words, some
popular texts advocate “dating like a man.” In Date
Like A Man, Moore and Gould (2001) urged women
to change their traditional orientation toward dat-
ing in order to maximize their options. Specifically,
the authors told women to stop dating like a woman
(i.e., for the sole purpose of finding a husband) and
start dating like a man (i.e., for the purpose of hav-
ing fun). This shift in dating orientation can move
young women away from seeking long-term, commit-
ted, and/or marital relationships and partners toward
casual, recreational, and/or companion dating. And,
although casual, recreational, and/or companion dat-
ing relieves the pressure of “Finding Mr. Right” from
every dating experience, potentially it can reduce this
important relationship exploration stage to “Looking
for Mr. Right Now.” The author of an article in Men’s
Health highlighted this point when she answered the
question “Do women actually go out just to get laid?”
from one of her male readers with a simple “Yes”
(Beland, 2003, fourth question).
A second goal of this was to explore the per-
sonality traits approach offered by past academic re-
searchers as an explanatory perspective for young
women’s dating/mating preferences. According to
popular literature, the answer to why young women
choose to date not-so-nice, “jerk” guys rather than
nice guys may lie within young women’s motiva-
tions for dating—a desire to get something specific
from the dating experience. However, scholarly re-
searchers have provided evidence that the answer
to the question may lie within the man—or more
specifically, within the young woman’s perception
of the man as a good/nice guy or a fun/sexy guy.
Which specific perceived qualities/traits make Man X
a more/less attractive dating partner than Man Y?
In a review of literature on mate preferences,
Feingold (1990) found 54 articles that chronicled the
significance of physical attractiveness as an attrac-
tive trait in all dating situations. Speed and Ganges-
tad (1997) found that, along with perceptions of
young men as physically attractive, perceptions of
them as well dressed, out-going, and self-confident
significantly and positively correlated with young
women’s ratings of romantic popularity (i.e., “Who
has the most dates and/or gets asked to the most
date parties?”). Fifty-four percent of the female re-
spondents in Herold and Milhausen’s (1999) study
reported that, given a choice, they would rather date
the nice guy who was described as sexually inex-
perienced, nice, and somewhat shy rather than the
not-so-nice guy who was described as physically at-
tractive, fun, and sexually active. In a study of the
traits most desirable in a casual sex partner and
a romantic partner (i.e., boyfriend), female respon-
dents listed qualities such as honest and trustworthy,
healthy, warm and kind, attractive, agreeable, socia-
ble, and emotionally stable (Regan, 1998a) as most
important in both types of relationships. Finally,
Stewart, Stinnett, and Rosenfeld (2000) found that
women rated trustworthy/honest, sense of humor,
kindness/understanding, exciting personality, and de-
pendable as the most desirable traits in a dating
partner.
Why/Why Not Date a Nice Guy? 351
Although it is a cultural phenomenon to cast one
trait as desirable/attractive and another trait as un-
desirable/unattractive, perceptions that others pos-
sess an attractive or unattractive trait are in the eyes
of the beholder—or more appropriately, vary with
the dating circumstances of the beholder. That is, a
woman may perceive X, Y, and Z traits as desirable
for a casual sex partner, but less desirable (if not com-
pletely undesirable) for a steady boyfriend. For in-
stance, the same women who do not discriminate on
traits such as financial stability and kindness when it
comes to dating in general (Li, Bailey, Kendrick, &
Linsenmeier, 2002), may be more discriminating on
traits like physical attractiveness when it comes to
suitability for casual versus romantic dating relation-
ships (Regan, 1998b). In addition, certain personality
traits positively influence dating choices only in com-
bination with other qualities. For example, Shanteau
and Nagy (1979) found that women reported that
they were more likely to date Man X rather than
Man Y if there were perceived differences in the tar-
get man’s physical attractiveness and his willingness
to accept the offer to date. In other words, women
were more likely to consider physical attractiveness
as an important quality if getting a date with him was
a “sure thing” rather than “no chance.”
Temporal factors may influence the acceptabil-
ity of a trait in other ways as well. Over time, de-
sirable traits may become undesirable. That is, traits
that made Man X desirable during the early initi-
ation and experimentation stages of a relationship
may make him less desirable during the latter in-
tensification stage. In Stewart et al.’s (2000) study,
an exciting personality was the only attractive qual-
ity desired in a short-term dating partner but not
in a long-term relationship partner. From the “over
time” perspective, being perceived as exciting may
be advantageous for a young man within the uncer-
tain and exploratory first date context. However, as
later dates call for more relationship certainty and/or
predictability, what was once perceived as “exciting”
may be reinterpreted as “unstable.” Felmlee (2001)
posited a “fatal attraction” hypothesis for this influ-
ence of time on the perception of personality traits:
certain traits that attract a young woman to a young
man in the beginning of the relationship may repel
her from the same young man as the relationship con-
tinues or sours over time. The five most common at-
tractive to unattractive trait pairs found were nice to
passive, strong to stubborn, funny to “flaky,” outgo-
ing to “over the top,” and caring to clingy (Felmlee,
2001). The “fatal attraction” hypothesis may be used
to explain why a young woman who was initially at-
tracted to her nice guy because she thought he was
“nice,” over time may become eager to dump him be-
cause she views him as “too nice” (i.e., passive).
Given the evidence from popular culture and
scholarly research, the following two hypotheses
were tested in this study.
Hypothesis 1: There would be a relationship between
young women’s reasons for dating and their choice
of men to date.
Hypothesis 2: There would be a relationship between
women’s perceptions of men’s personality traits
and their choice of men to date.
METHOD
Sample
An available sample of young women (N=95)
enrolled in introductory and interpersonal commu-
nication courses at a small east coast university was
recruited for this study. The predominantly White
sample of women were administered a three-part
questionnaire in accordance with the institution’s
guidelines for the protection of human participants.
The average age of the participants was 20.2 years
(SD =2.56); 51.6% of them were single, 45.3% re-
ported being single but in a committed relationship,
and 3.2% were married.
Measures
The measures used in this study were developed
as a result of several pilot tests and debriefings. Mul-
tiple versions of the questionnaire were administered
to female students who were taking introductory hu-
man communication courses. Afterward, comments
were solicited in order to create measures that more
accurately reflected the young women’s perceptions
of the nice guy dilemma, and that were internally
reliable and produced sufficient response variation.
For instance, motivational items such as “wanting to
date a man who is physically attractive” and “want-
ing to date a man who is sexually attractive” were
dropped because they were redundant with certain
trait items (i.e., “physically attractive”). Trait items
such as “charming” and “a good kisser” were re-
placed with “romantic” and “someone my friends
would like” because the former were less reliable
than the latter. Several versions of the dating sce-
narios for the fun/sexy guy were written in order
352 McDaniel
to strike the right balance between not-so-nice guy
and “jerk” guy qualities and to produce sufficient re-
sponse variation. The scenarios also were changed
from forced choice options (i.e., “Would you choose
the man in this scenario for a second date—yes or
no?”) to Likert scale ratings because the results pro-
duced from the forced choice responses were too eas-
ily attributed to social appropriateness.
A three-part questionnaire was generated to as-
sess the three variables of interest: reasons for dat-
ing (independent variable), perceived traits (inde-
pendent variable), and the likelihood of dating the
guys in Scenarios 1 and 2 (dependent variable). The
first part of the questionnaire, which included Lik-
ert scales, asked respondents about their likelihood
of going out on a date with a man for the following
reasons: to go somewhere or do something interest-
ing, to get to know someone better, because you are
bored, to have fun, because you are lonely, because
you want excitement, to have someone spend money
on you, because you want physical contact, because
you want stimulating conversation, and because you
are looking for an exclusive relationship. Some of the
reasons in this part of the questionnaire were gen-
erated to correspond with women’s traditional and
recreational motivations for dating as represented in
popular texts (i.e., going out to “get laid,” to find
a permanent relationship, to have fun, and for ex-
citement). Other reasons were generated specifically
to define further the notion of “recreational dating”
(i.e., to go somewhere or do something interesting
and because you want stimulating conversation). Re-
liability for this measure was .77.
The second part of the questionnaire presented
the respondents with nice guy and fun/sexy guy dat-
ing scenarios and asked them to rate on Likert scales
their likelihood of going out on a second date with
the men presented in the scenarios. Each scenario
followed a formulaic pattern of first meetings and
first dates for young adults: they meet at a party, ex-
change contact information, arrange a first date, and
go out on a Saturday night dinner or movie date.
However, the specifics of the date were manipulated
in order to differentiate the nice guy and his dating
behavior from the fun/sexy guy and his dating be-
havior. In the nice guy scenario, the young man pos-
sessed the a-little-too-nice/good guy traits (a good
personality, agreeable, eager to please, and willing
to wait for sex), was well dressed, complimented his
date on her attire, took his date to a nice restaurant,
and entertained his date with humorous conversation
(behaviors that should be recognized as common to
the “a-little-too-nice/good guy” dating experience).
Scenario 1 appears below.
Thursday evening you meet a man at a mutual
friend’s house and spend the whole night engaged in
lively and interesting conversation. Before the two
of you part for the evening, he asks you for your
telephone number and you give it to him. The next
day he calls you to tell you that he had a great time
talking to you the night before and asks you out for
dinner. You agree to go out with him the following
evening (Saturday night). The date is wonderful. He
greets you at your door appropriately dressed and
compliments you on your attire. He takes you to
a very nice restaurant where you enjoy good food
and lots of humorous conversation. At the end of
the evening, he walks you to your door and says,
“I had a really good time tonight. Can I call you
again tomorrow?” You say, “yes” and, happily, he
leaves.
In the fun/sexy guy scenario, the young man pos-
sessed the fun/sexy guy traits (exciting, physically at-
tractive, charming, and assertive sexually), presented
his date with a rose, took his date to a movie, and
kissed his date at the end of the evening (behaviors
that should be recognized as common to a “fun/sexy
guy” dating experience). Scenario 2 appears below.
Thursday evening you meet a very attractive man at
a mutual friend’s house and spend the whole night
engaged in lively and interesting conversation. Be-
fore the two of you part for the evening, he asks you
for your telephone number and you give it to him.
The next day he calls you to tell you that he had a
great time talking to you the night before and asks
you out for a movie. You agree to go out with him
the following evening (Saturday night). The date is
wonderful. He greets you at your door looking bet-
ter than he did when you met him and presents you
with a single red rose. He takes you to a popular
movie and, on the drive home, you enjoy more en-
tertaining conversation. At the end of the evening,
he walks you to your door and kisses you passion-
ately. Afterward, he looks deeply into your eyes and
says, “I had a great time tonight. I’ll call you to-
morrow.” He waits for you to say, “okay,” then he
leaves.
According to the results, the participants were
able to differentiate the two dating scenarios and
reported a greater likelihood of going on a second
date with the nice guy (M=9.26, SD =1.15) than
the fun/sexy guy (M=8.12, SD =2.13). A paired
sample ttest indicated that the differences between
these mean ratings were significant, t=4.94; df =94;
p<.01.
The final part of the questionnaire asked re-
spondents to rate on Likert scales their impressions
Why/Why Not Date a Nice Guy? 353
of the men presented in the two dating scenarios.
First, women rated the nice guy according to 10
personality traits (intelligent, physically attractive,
funny/witty, strong, confident, romantic, aggressive,
sweet/nice, exciting, and someone my friends would
like), then they were asked to rate the fun/sexy guy
using the same traits presented in a different or-
der. This method of presentation was chosen in or-
der to avoid fixed responses. Although some of the
traits were referenced explicitly within the text of
the dating scenarios (such as physically attractive,
funny/witty), other traits had to be inferred (such as
sweet/nice, strong, exciting). Seven perceived traits
were chosen because they fit the dating scenario and
corresponded with the qualities that scholarly texts
suggested that attract women to dating partners. The
remaining three perceived traits (i.e., strong, confi-
dent, and aggressive) were chosen because they fit
the dating scenario and ostensibly referenced the “fa-
tal attraction” hypothesis. Cronbach’s alpha for these
measures were.82 for the nice guy’s ratings and.85 for
the fun/sexy guy’s ratings.
Procedure
At the beginning of class, female students were
asked if they would like to participate in a study
about young women’s dating behavior. They were
informed that no extra credit would be given in ex-
change for their participation nor would they be pe-
nalized in any way for not choosing to participate. At
the end of class, a letter of consent was read and dis-
tributed along with the three-part questionnaire. The
parts of the questionnaire were administered in the
order that they were discussed earlier (10 reasons for
dating, 2 dating scenarios, 10 personality traits for the
nice guy, 10 personality traits for the fun/sexy guy).
The questionnaires were completed in class within 5–
10 minutes and returned to the administrator. Other
than age, classification, and relationship status, no
identifying information was collected. The partici-
pants were thanked and encouraged to keep their let-
ters of consent for future reference.
RESULTS
Several statistical procedures were used to an-
alyze the data. Frequency tables were constructed
to reflect young women’s perceptions of the vari-
ables of interest. Pearson correlation matrices were
generated to obtain a general sense of the strength
and direction of the relationships present among
Table I. Mean Reasons for Dating Ratings
Reasons for dating M(SD)
Want to go somewhere or do something interesting 6.98 (2.27)
Want to get to know someone better 8.79 (1.34)
Bored 4.25 (2.04)
Want to have fun 7.98 (1.72)
Lonely 5.46 (2.54)
Want excitement 6.80 (2.20)
Want someone to spend money on you 3.18 (2.28)
Want physical contact 4.27 (2.58)
Want stimulating conversation 6.59 (1.90)
Want an exclusive relationship 7.10 (2.39)
the variables of interest. Stepwise regression anal-
yses and factor analyses were run to test hypothe-
ses. Stepwise regression analyses were run to assess
which specific reasons for dating or perceived person-
ality traits contributed the most to the variation in
likelihood of dating. Subsequently, multiple regres-
sion analyses were run using the reasons for dating
and perceived personality traits factors as indepen-
dent variables to determine if they could explain fur-
ther the variation in likelihood of dating. And finally,
principal component factor analyses were run on the
independent variables to look at their interrelation-
ships and for underlying factors.
Table I shows the mean ratings for reasons for
going on a date. On a scale of 1–10, where 10 was
the highest possible rating, the actual highest rated
reasons young women indicated for dating were to
get to know someone better (M=8.79, SD =1.34)
and to have fun (M=7.98, SD =1.72). The lowest
rated reason indicated for dating was wanting some-
one to spend money on them (M=3.19, SD =2.28).
Table II contains a comparison of the average ratings
of the perceived traits of the men in both dating
Table II. Mean Perceived Personality Trait Ratings for Nice Guy
and Fun/Sexy Guy in Dating Scenarios
Nice guy from Fun/sexy guy from
Scenario 1 Scenario 2
Perceived traits M(SD)M(SD)
Intelligent 8.29 (1.18) 6.82 (1.56)
Physically attractive 7.38 (1.63) 8.63 (1.77)
Funny/witty 7.73 (1.84) 7.32 (1.82)
Strong 6.42 (2.19) 7.60 (2.06)
Confident 7.48 (2.05) 9.05 (1.30)
Romantic 7.49 (2.04) 7.81 (2.07)
Aggressive 3.31 (2.09) 8.39 (1.72)
Sweet/nice 8.74 (1.39) 7.01 (1.99)
Exciting 6.84 (1.88) 7.91 (1.64)
Someone my friends 7.94 (2.03) 7.27 (2.17)
would like
354 McDaniel
scenarios. On a scale of 1–10 where 10 was the high-
est possible rating, the top rated traits attributed to
the nice guy were sweet/nice (M=8.74, SD =1.36)
and intelligent (M=8.29, SD =1.18). The lowest
rated trait attributed to the nice guy was aggres-
sive (M=3.31, SD =2.09). The top rated traits at-
tributed to the fun/sexy guy were confident (M=
9.05, SD =1.30) and physically attractive (M=8.63,
SD =1.77) whereas the lowest rated trait attributed
to the fun/sexy guy was intelligent (M=6.82, SD =
1.56).
Hypothesis 1 was supported by the data. A re-
lationship was found between the likelihood of dat-
ing a nice guy and reasons for dating and between
the likelihood of dating a fun/sexy guy and reasons
for dating. Table III contains a comparison of the
correlations between the reasons for dating and the
likelihood of dating a second time the nice guy and
the fun/sexy guy. Table IV shows the standardized
beta of the reasons for dating for both men in the
dating scenarios. Pearson correlations indicated that
the likelihood of dating a nice guy a second time was
positively related to wanting an exclusive relation-
ship, r=.24, p<.05. Stepwise regression analyses
revealed that not wanting physical contact (due to
the negative correlation obtained with that reason for
dating), wanting stimulating conversation, and want-
ing an exclusive relationship predicted an increase in
the likelihood of dating a nice guy, F(3,90) =5.54,
p<.
01, however the variables did not contribute
very much to the overall prediction, R2=.13.
Pearson correlations at the .05 level indicated
that the likelihood of dating a fun/sexy guy a second
Table III. Correlations Between Reasons for Dating and Likeli-
hood of Dating Nice Guy and Fun/Sexy Guy in Dating Scenarios
Nice guy from Fun/sexy guy
Scenario 1 from Scenario 2
Reasons dating rr
Want to go somewhere or do .02 .27
something interesting
Want to get to know .18 .19
someone better
Bored .01 .15
Want to have fun .04 .35∗∗
Lonely .06 .21
Want excitement .05 .17
Want someone to spend .12 .22
money on you
Want physical contact .16 .26∗∗
Want stimulating conversation .16 .01
Want an exclusive relationship .24.26
p<.05. ∗∗p<.01.
Table IV. Standardized Beta Weights of Stepwise Regression
Model for Reasons for Dating and Likelihood of Dating Nice Guy
and Fun/Sexy Guy in Dating Scenarios
Nice guy Fun/sexy guy
Scenario from 1afrom Scenario 2b
Reasons for dating ββ
Want to go somewhere or .06 .10
do something interesting
Want to get to know .10 .00
someone better
Bored .04 .07
Want to have fun .07 .33
Lonely .08 .11
Want excitement .09 .03
Want someone to spend .06 .16
money on you
Want physical contact .27 .14
Want stimulating .23 .09
conversation
Want an exclusive .28 .22
relationship
aR2=.13; F(3,90) =5.54; p<.01.
bR2=.16; F(2,91) =9.78; p<.01.
time was positively related to wanting to go some-
where or do something interesting, r=.27, being
lonely, r=.25, wanting someone to spend money on
them, r=.22, and wanting an exclusive relationship,
r=.20. Pearson correlations at the .01 level indicated
that the likelihood of dating a fun/sexy guy was pos-
itively related to having fun, r=.43, and wanting
physical contact, r=.26. Stepwise regression analy-
ses indicated that, although reasons for dating, such
as having fun and wanting an exclusive relationship,
were the best predictors of increased likelihood of
dating a fun/sexy guy, F(2,91) =9.78, p<.01, again,
they did not contribute very much to the overall pre-
diction, R2=.16.
Hypothesis 2 was supported as well. A relation-
ship was found between the likelihood of dating a
nice guy and perceived traits and between the like-
lihood of dating a fun/sexy guy and perceived traits.
Table V contains a comparison of the correlations
between the perceived traits and the likelihood of
dating a second time the nice guy and fun/sexy guy
in the dating scenarios. Table VI shows the standard-
ized beta for the personality traits for both men in
the dating scenarios. Pearson correlations indicated
that the likelihood of going out on a second date
with a nice guy was positively related to perceptions
of the man in Scenario 1 as intelligent, physically at-
tractive, romantic, sweet/nice, exciting, and someone
their friends would like, at or below the .01 level, and
Why/Why Not Date a Nice Guy? 355
Table V. Correlations Between Perceived Personality Traits and
Likelihood of Dating Nice Guy and Fun/Sexy Guy in Dating
Scenarios
Nice guy from Fun/sexy guy from
Scenario 1 Scenario 2
Perceived traits rr
Intelligent .40∗∗ .30∗∗
Physically attractive .42∗∗ .48∗∗
Funny/witty .21.32∗∗
Strong .18 .47∗∗
Confident .13 .20
Romantic .29∗∗ .48∗∗
Aggressive .07 .19
Sweet/nice .59∗∗ .59∗∗
Exciting .36∗∗ .59∗∗
Someone my friends .41∗∗ .64∗∗
would like
p<.05. ∗∗p<.01.
funny/witty at the .05 level. Stepwise regression anal-
yses indicated that perceptions of the man in Sce-
nario 1 as sweet/nice and physically attractive were
the best predictors of an increase in the likelihood
of dating the nice guy, F(2,92) =31.75, p<.01, and
that the magnitude of the contribution to the overall
prediction was substantial, R2=.40.
Pearson correlations at the .01 level indicated
that the likelihood of going out on a second date with
a fun/sexy guy was positively related to perceptions
of the man in Scenario 2 as funny/witty, intelligent,
exciting, physically attractive, romantic, sweet/nice,
strong, and someone their friends would like. Step-
wise regression analyses indicated that the best
model for predicting an increase in the likelihood of
Table VI. Standardized Beta Weights of Stepwise Regression
Model for Perceived Personality Traits and Likelihood of Dating
Nice Guy and Fun/Sexy Guy in Dating Scenarios
Nice guy from Fun/sexy guy from
Scenario 1aScenario 2b
Perceived traits ββ
Intelligent .08 .00
Physically attractive .50 .12
Funny/witty .04 .05
Strong .12 .08
Confident .09 .15
Romantic .03 .04
Aggressive .05 .10
Sweet/nice .27 .23
Exciting .09 .23
Someone my friends .16 .33
would like
aR2=.40; F(2,92) =31.48; p<.01.
bR2=.46; F(3,91) =27.95; p<.01.
dating a fun/sexy guy contained perceptions of the
man in Scenario 2 as someone my friends would like,
sweet/nice, and exciting, F(3,91) =27.95, p<.01,
and again, the magnitude of the contribution of those
variables combined to the overall prediction was sub-
stantial, R2=.46.
To address the relationships among the inde-
pendent variables and the underlying factors that
account for the results of the regression analysis,
the 10 reasons for dating contained in the first part
of the questionnaire were factor analyzed and bro-
ken down into three factors. A categorizing sys-
tem that identifies the properties that emerged from
the reasons within each factor was used (Strauss &
Corbin, 1990), and the factors were labeled low, mod-
erate, and high commitment. The reasons for dat-
ing that indicate “low commitment” were wanting to
go somewhere or do something interesting, because
they were bored, because they want to have fun,
because they were lonely, because they wanted ex-
citement, because they wanted physical contact, and
because they wanted stimulating conversation. The
only reason for dating that indicates “moderate com-
mitment” was wanting stimulating conversation. This
reason for dating did not meet the extraction crite-
rion for the low or moderate commitment factors,
therefore it was classified under both categories. The
final factor was designated “high commitment” be-
cause wanting an exclusive relationship was the only
reason for dating that it contained. Wanting to get
to know someone better and wanting someone to
spend money on them met the extraction criteria for
all three categories and, thus, were not classified ac-
cording to any of the commitment factors.
The reasons for dating in the “low commitment”
factor reflected a casual, short-term attitude toward
dating that makes it synonymous with recreational
dating. No significant results were produced for the
nice guy, but the low commitment factor was re-
sponsible for some variation in the likelihood of dat-
ing a fun/sexy guy, R2=.12; F(7,86) =2.78; p<.05.
The reason for dating in the moderate commitment
factor seemed to reflect the women’s desire for a
member of the other sex “just to talk to.” No sig-
nificant results were found for the nice guy or the
fun/sexy guy and the moderate commitment factor.
The high commitment factor was found to explain
very little of the variation in the likelihood of dating
a nice guy, R2=.05; F(1,93) =5.58; p<.05, and a
fun/sexy guy, R2=.06; F(1,93) =6.69; p<.05.
The 10 personality traits attributed to the nice
guy and the fun/sexy guy in Scenarios 1 and 2,
356 McDaniel
respectively, were factor analyzed and resulted in
two factors: “attractive” and “unattractive” traits.
For the nice guy in Scenario 1, seven traits were clas-
sified as “attractive” (traits that young women would
perceive as favorable in a dating partner)—physically
attractive, funny/witty, strong, confident, romantic,
exciting, and someone their friends would like. Only
one trait was classified as “unattractive” for the
nice guy in Scenario 1 (traits that young women
would perceive as unfavorable in a dating partner)—
aggressive. Two traits met the extraction criteria
for both the “attractive” and “unattractive” cate-
gories for the nice guy—intelligent and sweet/nice.
This suggests that being perceived as intelligent and
sweet/nice may be “fatal attraction” qualities for the
nice guy. That is, being perceived as intelligent and
sweet/nice may be an asset for the nice guy on the
first date, but may be perceived as a liability on lat-
ter dates. For the fun/sexy guy in Scenario 2, eight
traits were classified as “attractive”—funny/witty, in-
telligent, romantic, someone their friends would like,
exciting, physically attractive, sweet/nice, and strong.
One trait was classified as “unattractive” for the
fun/sexy guy in Scenario 2—aggressive. One trait
met the extraction criteria for both the “attractive”
and “unattractive” categories for the fun/sexy guy—
confident. Again, this suggests that being perceived
as confident may be a “fatal attraction” quality for
the fun/sexy guy. Therefore, being perceived as con-
fident may attract a young woman to a fun/sexy guy
in the beginning of a relationship and then repel her
from him as the relationship continues or sours over
time.
DISCUSSION
To explain the nice guy phenomenon such that it
is consistent with past scholarly research and popular
cultural texts, two questions must be addressed. The
primary question was, “Why or why not choose a nice
guy as a dating partner?” A question of secondary
importance was, “Is there support for the myth that
young women prefer jerks as dating partners rather
than nice guys?” Popular texts offer evidence that
young women may/may not select nice guys as dat-
ing partners because nice guys may/may not be able
to provide them with what they want from their dat-
ing experience. Scholarly texts offer evidence that
the answers may lie in how the young woman per-
ceives the nice guy—whether she perceives him as
having attractive or unattractive traits for dating.
The results of this study suggest that, although both
reasons for dating (i.e., not wanting physical con-
tact, wanting stimulating conversation, and wanting
an exclusive relationship) and perceived personality
traits (i.e., sweet/nice and physically attractive) influ-
ence a young woman’s desire to date a nice guy, per-
ceived personality traits are better predictors of her
choice of man to date than are her reasons for dating.
The easy answer to the question “Why/Why not
date a nice guy?” may be that young women choose
to date nice guys when they are perceived as possess-
ing X combination of attractive personality traits and
that young women reject nice guys as dating partners
when they are perceived as possessing Y combination
of unattractive personality traits. However, further
discussion of that assertion is required. According to
the factor analysis results of attractive perceived per-
sonality traits for a nice guy, a “good guy” that young
women want to date is a man who is physically attrac-
tive, funny/witty, romantic, exciting, and someone
their friends would like. Stepwise regression results
indicated that being perceived as physically attrac-
tive and sweet/nice were the best predictors of a nice
guy securing a second date and accounted for 30%
of the variation in the dependent variable. However,
physical attractiveness was listed among the traits in
the attractive factor when the data were factor an-
alyzed, but sweet/nice was not included among the
other traits in either the attractive or unattractive fac-
tors. From the perspective of the “fatal attraction”
hypothesis, a nice guy who is perceived as sweet/nice
may be more appealing to a young woman when
combined with perceptions of being physically attrac-
tive and may be less appealing to her when perceived
alone. Stranger still, physical attractiveness was nei-
ther stated nor implied in the nice guy dating sce-
nario even though some female respondents inferred
it. Perceptions of being sweet/nice did not seem to
fall victim to the fatal attraction hypothesis for the
fun/sexy guy. For him, factor analysis showed that
being sweet/nice was a highly desirable quality—as
were the other two traits that increased his likelihood
of getting a second date. Thus, achieving that “magic
combination of desirable qualities that leads to sub-
sequent dates” may be a more elusive proposition for
the nice guy than for the fun/sexy guy.
Young women in this study seemed to perceive
both nice guys and fun/sexy guys as sweet/nice be-
cause both types of young men in the dating scenar-
ios conformed to young women’s expectations for a
first date. According to Laner and Ventrone (2000),
six commonly expected first date behaviors for a man
are ask the woman out, decide on the plans, buy
Why/Why Not Date a Nice Guy? 357
flowers for the woman, pick her up, pay all the bills,
and make affectionate moves (such as hugging and
kissing). Expecting all six of these behaviors may
work against the nice guy because, according to Sce-
nario 1, the nice guy performs the basic steps (i.e.,
asks the woman out, decides on the plans, picks her
up, and pays all the bills), but goes no further. The
fun/sexy guy in Scenario 2, on the other hand, also
performs the basic steps (i.e., asks the woman out,
decides on the plans, picks her up, and pays all the
bills) and goes a little further [i.e., buys flowers for
the woman and makes affectionate moves (such as
hugging and kissing)]. The “fatal attraction” hypoth-
esis may explain subsequent rejection of a nice guy
because his sweet/nice guy caution may be read as
loser/nice guy passivity. Again, when it comes to get-
ting a second date, being considered sweet/nice has
its advantages, but only in combination with other
specific desirable personality traits and/or behaviors
... and potentially only for a fun/sexy guy. Gray
(1997) made a similar point in the following way.
Every time a nice guy is rejected, he then mistakenly
assumes it is because he was [too] nice. This experi-
ence is compounded by the recurring situation of a
woman complaining about a past relationship. If she
is complaining, then she tends to focus on what a jerk
the guy was. So once again a nice guy can’t figure
women out and wonders why she got involved with
a jerk. The answer to the question is that when she
first met [the jerk] she thought he was nice (p. 174).
The answer to the second question regarding the
nice guy dilemma, “Is there support for the myth
that young women prefer jerks as dating partners
rather than nice guys?,” may be found in young
women’s perceptions of the dating experience. Sig-
nificant correlations emerged between low and high
commitment reasons for dating (such as wanting to
have fun, not wanting physical contact, wanting stim-
ulating conversation, and wanting an exclusive rela-
tionship) and an increase in the likelihood of dating
fun/sexy guys and nice guys. Popular and academic
texts claim that young women report wanting nice
guys for committed relationships. However, regres-
sion analysis of the reasons for dating factors indi-
cated that the high commitment reason for dating ac-
counts very little for a young woman’s desire to date
a nice guy or a not-so-nice fun/sexy guy, and the low
commitment dating factor was related only to an in-
crease in the likelihood of dating a fun/sexy guy a
second time. These results can be interpreted as dis-
pelling the mythical status of the claim that young
women prefer dating fun/sexy guys rather than nice
guys in at least two ways. First, being suitable for high
commitment dating alone is not enough (by a long
shot) to increase a nice guy’s likelihood to progress
into or beyond the experimentation stage of relation-
ship escalation. Second, young women who are inter-
ested in frequent casual dating are not going to se-
lect a nice guy as a dating partner because he cannot
meet her recreational dating needs. And, because the
fun/sexy guy seems to be more suitable for low com-
mitment dating, he is going to be chosen more often
for it, which provides him with an increased oppor-
tunity to progress well into and beyond the experi-
mentation stage. Of course, this creates the percep-
tion that young women do not want to date nice guys
when the reality may be that they do not want a nice
guy for “low commitment reasons” when the nice guy
may have “high commitment expectations.”
Being perceived as sweet/nice and physically at-
tractive were found to predict substantially the like-
lihood of dating a nice guy, and being perceived as
someone their friends would like, sweet/nice, and ex-
citing were found to predict substantially the likeli-
hood of dating a fun/sexy guy. In terms of the social
value of the specific qualities (e.g., sweet/nice, excit-
ing, physically attractive), the nice guy myth does not
seem to hold true. That is, on the basis of the so-
cial value of the perceived personality traits, the nice
guy and the fun/sexy guy seem equally likely to be
selected to participate in experimental relationship
dating—the “fatal attraction” hypothesis, notwith-
standing. However, if the dating experience is ex-
tended to the intensification stage (a point where the
dating partners explore “coupledom” and the rela-
tionship is confirmed by others; Alder & Rodman,
2003), the fun/sexy guy may have the upper hand.
When assessing the suitability of a nice guy for a
one-on-one, first date, dating experience, the young
woman relies on her own perceptions of his qual-
ities. Thus, according to the results of the present
study, if she perceives the nice guy as both sweet/nice
and physically attractive, she is more likely to go
out with him at least a second time. However, if
the young woman is looking for someone for more
than a one-on-one, first date, dating experience (i.e.,
dating situations that may involve interactions with
friends and/or relatives), the perceptions of others
(e.g., friends) become as salient as her own. Thus,
according to the results of the present study, if she
perceives the fun/sexy guy as sweet/nice and excit-
ing and perceives that her friends will approve of
him, she is more likely to go out with him a second
time and potentially more often. Again, the claim
358 McDaniel
that women prefer dating fun/sexy guys rather than
nice guys finds support.
Intriguing as these results may be, three limita-
tions should be placed on their interpretations. First,
the conceptualization of the “jerk guy” presented in
Scenario 2 is an approximation of its manifestation in
popular literature. In this study, the “jerk guy” was
presented as a cross between the “fun guy” and the
“sexy guy” from the Herold and Milhausen (1999)
study rather than the bad boy/jerk guy alluded to
in popular and other academic texts. As a result,
the present study’s fun/sexy guy may have displayed
fewer negative qualities in his first date scenario than
“jerk guys” in other studies that leads to conflict-
ing conclusions about dating preferences. Although
the present study’s respondents were able to differ-
entiate adequately among the traits of the nice guy
and the fun/sexy guy, other than sexual forwardness,
many of the negative, anecdotal, “jerk guy” personal-
ity traits were sacrificed in order to make the fun/sexy
guy a viable dating alternative to the good guy/nice
guy. Future researchers may need to reconcile the
anecdotal “jerk guy” image with his real life dateabil-
ity to get a better picture of young women’s dating
preferences with reference to the nice guy dilemma.
Second, it is speculative at best to base relation-
ship trajectories on first date scenarios and the prob-
ability of a hypothetical second date. Results of this
study suggest that young women may be inclined to
date anybody at least twice—requisite behavior dur-
ing the experimental stage of relationship escalation.
However, I did not factor in a cut-off period for ex-
perimentation. That is, the analysis cannot account
for the point at which the young woman decides that
continuing to date the nice guy and/or fun/sexy guy
requires more physical or emotional investment in
the relationship than she is willing to give or does
not match her level of commitment expectations. Ac-
curate predictions about relationship trajectories re-
quire comparisons of perceptions during salient mo-
ments (i.e., turning points), such as getting to know
the young man on a first date versus negotiating the
first opportunity for sexual contact on a future date.
Therefore, although a young woman may find it ap-
pealing that the nice guy did not try to kiss her on
their first date, she may not find him quite as appeal-
ing if two dates down the road he is still not “giving
off any sparks.” By the same token, accepting a pas-
sionate kiss on the first date from the fun/sexy guy
may set the young woman up for increased intimacy
on the second and third dates—a level of intimacy for
which she is unprepared. Future researchers should
compare first date versus future date nice guy and
fun/sexy guy perceptions as a foundation for making
predictions about relationship development.
Third, it might be presumptuous to equate keep-
ing a guy around for a second date and beyond with
wanting him for an exclusive boyfriend relationship.
I did not differentiate between wanting a young man
for steady boyfriend dating and wanting a young man
for regular companion dating. One implies a desire
for an exclusive, romantic, committed relationship
with the young man, whereas the other does not,
even though a young woman may seek the same qual-
ities in a young man for both types of relationships.
For example, being perceived as sweet/nice (along
with other qualities) seemed to be a trait that in-
creased the likelihood of a second date for both the
nice guy and the fun/sexy guy in the present study.
However, Sprecher and Regan (2002) found that
young women equally desired comparable qualities
(i.e., warmth and kindness) in a steady dating part-
ner, a boyfriend, and a platonic cross-sex friend. Just
because a young woman enjoys going out on a regu-
lar basis with her nice guy, platonic, cross-sex friend
does not mean that she will want him for anything
more than a friend even though he possesses quali-
ties that she wants in a boyfriend. Although compar-
isons can be made between the characteristics of ca-
sual and steady dating partners, those relationships
may not be analogous in quality or function. As a re-
sult, future researchers should be cautious about con-
clusions based on incongruous relationship compar-
isons.
CONCLUSION
So, are young women both attracted to and re-
pelled by nice guys? Do young women prefer dat-
ing “jerk” guys rather than “nice” guys? The an-
swers to these questions are yes and no. It depends.
The results of this study seem to indicate that young
women equate nice guys who are physically attrac-
tive, funny/witty, strong, confident, romantic, excit-
ing, and someone their friends would like with “good
guys,” but that being perceived as sweet/nice has the
potential to turn that same nice guy into a “too nice,”
“loser guy.” Young women appear to see fun/sexy
guys as general purpose dating partners especially
during the experimental phase, and they may be
more willing to favor his personality traits over those
of a nice guy when (they think) their perceptions of
fun/sexy guy have been confirmed by their friends.
However, dating a nice guy may require a more
Why/Why Not Date a Nice Guy? 359
serious attitude toward dating from young women
and more confidence in their own ability to judge
another’s character accurately. Experience is usu-
ally the best teacher in social situations such as dat-
ing. And, finding a “good guy” prince among sev-
eral possible “nice” suitors may necessitate kissing a
lot of “loser” frogs—something that recreational dat-
ing young women simply may not have the time, pa-
tience, or inclination to do. In the end, young women
may continue to claim that they find certain quali-
ties in a “good guy” nice guy as highly desirable and
that they want to be in a committed relationship with
one man as their ultimate goal, but, at the same time,
they seem content to spend “the meantime and in-
between-time” going out with fun/sexy guys who may
or may not turn into “jerks.”
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... Psychology research on men studies, attractiveness, partner preferences, and gender differences in partner choice has traditionally focused on the influence of different elements such as sociobiological aspects, hormones and pheromones, facial appearance, sexual dimorphism, physical attributes, and body shape preferences (Perilloux et al., 2013;Price et al., 2013;Wells et al., 2013;Hatz et al., 2020;White et al., 2020). Other studies have analyzed the influence of interactions and peer groups in selecting sexual affective relationships and the desire toward different kinds of masculinities (Herold and Milhausen, 1999;Urbaniak and Kilmann, 2003;McDaniel, 2005). On this subject, most studies draw from psychology and sexology. ...
... As a consequence of this discourse, most women recommended the nice guys as the best choice for having more serious, long-term, and stable relationships, while they preferred a "macho man" for casual and sexual relationships. In the same line, McDaniel (2005) examined the duality and double standard that girls experience regarding the choice and attraction to men exhibiting different masculinities. Thus, this author points out that some girls have shown a desire toward romantic and stable relationships with "nice guys" but nevertheless prefer to have sexual relationships with "jerks" and "bad guys." ...
... Although some previous analyses confirmed how the traditional double standard is reproduced from a language of desire which promotes dominant masculinities (Flecha et al., 2013;López de Aguileta et al., 2020), there are no deeper analysis on how this language maintains this double standard throughout practices as the myth of warrior's rest implies. Scientific literature has also confirmed that some women reproduce this double standard by imitating this myth (Lyons et al., 2011) and by how they choose "nice guys" for stable relationships and "macho men" for having "fun" and sexual encounters (Herold and Milhausen, 1999;Urbaniak and Kilmann, 2003;McDaniel, 2005;Ahmetoglu and Swami, 2012). However, none of these analyses study in detail the role of interactions, conversations, and non-verbal language in the perpetuation of this conventional male practice. ...
Article
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Psychology research on men studies, attractiveness, and partner preferences has evolved from the influence of sociobiological perspectives to the role of interactions in shaping election toward sexual–affective relationships and desire toward different kinds of masculinities. However, there is a scientific gap in how language and communicative acts among women influence the kind of partner they feel attracted to and in the reproduction of relationship double standards, like the myth of the “warrior’s rest” where female attractiveness to “bad boys” is encouraged or supported. Some women imitate “the warrior” behavior of men by choosing dominant traditional masculinities (DTM) to have “fun” with and oppressed traditional masculinities (OTM) for “rest” after the “fun” with DTM—choosing an OTM for a stable relationship, but perhaps without passion, while also feeling attraction toward DTM, a response which perpetuates the chauvinist double standard that the feminist movement has condemned when men behave in this sexist way. Through conducting a qualitative study with communicative daily life stories, this article explores, on the one hand, how language and social interaction among women can lead to the reproduction of the DTM role by women and, on the other hand, also how new alternative masculinities (NAM) offer an alternative by explicitly rejecting, through the language of desire, to be the rest for the female warrior, the second fiddle to any woman. This has the potential to become a highly attractive alternative to DTM. Findings provide new knowledge through the analysis of communicative acts and masculinities evidencing the importance of language uses in the reproduction of the double standards in gender relations and to understand how and why these practices are maintained and which kind of language uses can contribute to preventing them. Implications for research and interventions on preventive socialization of gender violence are discussed.
... Las primeras repre sentan valores igualitarios y tratan bien a las personas con las que mantienen relaciones afectivosexuales, al contrario de las segundas, quienes las desprecian (Aubert, Melgar y Padrós, 2010;Duque, 2006;Gómez, 2004Gómez, , 2015. Evidencias de esta relación entre atractivo y violencia, y de la falta de deseo, por parte de algunas personas, hacia quienes tratan bien han sido encontradas y planteadas por algunas autoras (hooks, 2000;Norwood, 1986) y estudiadas en profundidad en diferentes investi gaciones realizadas con adolescentes y jóvenes (Aubert, Melgar y Padrós, 2010;Duque, 2006;Gómez, 2004;McDaniel, 2005;Padrós, 2012;Robinson, 2005;Valls, 2004Valls, -2005Valls, Puigvert y Duque, 2008). ...
... De esta ma nera retornamos a la cuestión clave que lleva o no a la violencia de género: quién te atrae y a quién eliges para tener una relación (Gómez 2004(Gómez , 2015. Otros estudios como el de McDaniel (2005), han indagado sobre por qué algunas jóvenes manifiestan un deseo de salir con chicos «buenos» pero sin embargo prefieren tener relaciones con «idiotas 11 » y chicos «malos». Estas mujeres jóvenes, perciben al chico ideal como divertido, ingenioso, fuerte, seguro, romántico, emocionante, dulce y agradable, pero asocian la atracción, la diversión y a los chicos sexyes con los chicos «malos». ...
... Estas mujeres jóvenes, perciben al chico ideal como divertido, ingenioso, fuerte, seguro, romántico, emocionante, dulce y agradable, pero asocian la atracción, la diversión y a los chicos sexyes con los chicos «malos». El chico «bueno», ideal y altamente deseable pasa a ser un objetivo final, mientras se alcanza esta relación ideal, estas chicas jóvenes alternan con «idiotas 12 » y chicos «malos» (McDaniel, 2005). Así, el problema de la per cepción de chico y relación ideal no reside en el amor romántico, que según las jóvenes del estudio estas relaciones tienen valores y atributos positivos e ideales libres de violencia, sino en la atracción elección que realizan hacia otras relaciones en las que sí puede haber violencia de género. ...
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Esta publicación se centra en dos temáticas relevantes en el marco de la línea de investigación en "Socialización preventiva de la violencia de género" desarrollada por el centro de investigación CREA. Estas dos temáticas son: el amor ideal y las nuevas masculinidades alternativas. Se recoge la investigación científica existente sobre violencia de género que explica las bases científicas de la socialización preventiva de la violencia de género, haciendo hincapié en el amor ideal y en las nuevas masculinidades. Se identifican vinculaciones entre amor ideal y violencia de género. Se analizan los modelos de masculinidad y su vinculación con el atractivo. A continuación, se presentan los datos del trabajo de campo a tres niveles a) cuestionarios a jóvenes y adolescentes b) entrevistas y grupos de discusión a jóvenes y adolescentes y el seguimiento de centros educativos que están implementando acciones en la línea de socialización preventiva de la violencia de género. Para finalizar, a partir de las conclusiones, se ofrecen unas orientaciones de actuación de socialización preventiva de la violencia de género.
... Las primeras repre sentan valores igualitarios y tratan bien a las personas con las que mantienen relaciones afectivosexuales, al contrario de las segundas, quienes las desprecian (Aubert, Melgar y Padrós, 2010;Duque, 2006;Gómez, 2004Gómez, , 2015. Evidencias de esta relación entre atractivo y violencia, y de la falta de deseo, por parte de algunas personas, hacia quienes tratan bien han sido encontradas y planteadas por algunas autoras (hooks, 2000;Norwood, 1986) y estudiadas en profundidad en diferentes investi gaciones realizadas con adolescentes y jóvenes (Aubert, Melgar y Padrós, 2010;Duque, 2006;Gómez, 2004;McDaniel, 2005;Padrós, 2012;Robinson, 2005;Valls, 2004Valls, -2005Valls, Puigvert y Duque, 2008). ...
... De esta ma nera retornamos a la cuestión clave que lleva o no a la violencia de género: quién te atrae y a quién eliges para tener una relación (Gómez 2004(Gómez , 2015. Otros estudios como el de McDaniel (2005), han indagado sobre por qué algunas jóvenes manifiestan un deseo de salir con chicos «buenos» pero sin embargo prefieren tener relaciones con «idiotas 11 » y chicos «malos». Estas mujeres jóvenes, perciben al chico ideal como divertido, ingenioso, fuerte, seguro, romántico, emocionante, dulce y agradable, pero asocian la atracción, la diversión y a los chicos sexyes con los chicos «malos». ...
... Estas mujeres jóvenes, perciben al chico ideal como divertido, ingenioso, fuerte, seguro, romántico, emocionante, dulce y agradable, pero asocian la atracción, la diversión y a los chicos sexyes con los chicos «malos». El chico «bueno», ideal y altamente deseable pasa a ser un objetivo final, mientras se alcanza esta relación ideal, estas chicas jóvenes alternan con «idiotas 12 » y chicos «malos» (McDaniel, 2005). Así, el problema de la per cepción de chico y relación ideal no reside en el amor romántico, que según las jóvenes del estudio estas relaciones tienen valores y atributos positivos e ideales libres de violencia, sino en la atracción elección que realizan hacia otras relaciones en las que sí puede haber violencia de género. ...
Technical Report
1. I think there are two version of this report circulating on ResearchGate. 2. Álvaro Cortés Fácila is not a co-author of this report. He should be removed from the authors list.
... Forced choice between the two images may yield an answer in keeping with social stereotypes but may not indicate real preference. When McDaniel (2005) asked if there is support for the popular myth that young women prefer jerks as dating partners rather than nice guys, she concluded that young women choose to date nice guys when they are perceived as possessing a combination of attractive personality traits. Physical attractiveness is only one of the factors involved in addition to other qualities such as being funny/witty, romantic, exciting, and someone whom their friends might like. ...
Article
Full-text available
The 2020 study entitled ‘Wearing high heels as female mating strategy’ by Pavol Prokop and Jana Švancárová claimed that when females imagined an interaction with an attractive male, their preference for high heels steeply increased, compared with an imagined interaction with an unattractive male. The authors concluded that wearing high heels seem to be a form of sexual signaling by females in intersexual interactions. The present paper revisits this study through a psychological standpoint, rather than a biological one. In addition to proposing hypothetical dating scenarios, as in the original study, we also asked participants about how they went about getting ready to go on a date, the significance of dating to them, and their thinking behind choosing particular outfits for a date. We conducted ten focus groups (N = 50), recruiting from a similar sample of participants to those in the original study. For our study we followed principles of Thematic Analysis to identify the key themes in the narratives related to dating and beautification. We also used the photo elicitation methodology to observe what footwear our participants own. Our data interpretation from these two sources suggests that young women tend to see dates as social events not necessarily leading to sex; that they do not regard high heel shoes as a means of beautification; and that they take account of practical considerations when getting dressed up for a date. Moreover, young women tend to use beautification with caution. We conclude that the relationship between the tendency to use beautification and attractiveness of a potential partner is far from straightforward; and relying on binary responses to hypothetical scenarios does not provide convincing evidence.
... By responding to these questions, the aim of this paper is to achieve a better understanding of the pragmatics of flirting in online environments, at least to some extent. The importance of engaging in this endeavour lies, inter alia, in the fact that a close examination of the language used in dating is rare, since linguistic research in this area is considered a 'black box' , although dating and mate selection, in general, have received much attention from evolutionary, psychological and sociological standpoints (McDaniel 2005;Surra et al. 2006;Surra and Boelter 2013). It is also interesting to note that research in relation to online dating, so far, has mostly relied on interviews and self-reports rather than natural data. ...
Article
Often preferred to its face-to-face counterpart, online dating has transformed the way we perceive practices relevant to meeting people, mostly, because it offers “a wider pool of potential partners” ( Heino, Ellison, and Gibbs 2010 , 428). Despite its popularity, however, online dating is an under-researched area in general, crucially in linguistics. Looking at (mostly unsuccessful) naturally occurring initial interactions that have taken place on the popular Tinder application, the aim of this study is to gain some insights into the relationship among language aggression, impoliteness and communication failure in the context of flirting on Tinder. Results show that the most common way that users initiate interaction in this dataset is through sexually loaded language, which seems to be understood as a breach of the norms of appropriateness for first-time contact. Although Tinder has no manual to prescribe what should or should not be said in interaction, it transpires from the data that avoiding overstepping in terms of sexual matters (i.e. refraining from using sexually loaded language and/or innuendos) functions as an unwritten law which sparks impoliteness when not followed. Resulting impoliteness manifests itself mostly through the strategies of sarcasm and ignoring/snubbing the other, used to counteract (perceived) inappropriateness. Tracing this escalation of non-cooperative practices, from inappropriateness to impoliteness, also provides the opportunity to examine the emergence of playfulness and creativity as language behaviours interwoven with aggression. Therefore, online dating seems to lend itself well to the study of impoliteness and violation of norms of appropriate behaviour, providing opportunities for an expansion of contexts for linguistic analysis.
... In this regard, hooks [18] explained that some people feel attached to those who mistreat, and when the relationship turns destructive, it is difficult for them to leave it, even tolerating behaviors that they would not tolerate in friendship. However, research also shows that it is precisely this violent nature of the relationship which breeds desire: when the 'good boy' is defined by girls as attractive, fun, romantic, confident, etc., he is seen as 'too good' and therefore less attractive by some girls [19]. In consistence with this evidence, research in the field of criminology shows that being engaged in delinquency raises the number of dates, increasing the attractiveness of delinquents [20]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Research on gender violence has identified as one main component leading to gender violence a dominant socialization process which associates attractiveness to men who show violent behaviors and attitudes, while egalitarian and non-violent men are emptied of attractiveness. This is known as coercive dominant discourse. Starting from the evidence that the peer group is a main context of socialization in adolescence, quantitative data were collected from six classes of secondary education (14–15-year-old adolescents) to explore whether the coercive dominant discourse is displayed in social interactions in the peer group and, if so, how it influences attractiveness patterns and sexual-affective behavior in adolescence. The analyses reveal that the coercive dominant discourse is often reproduced in the peer group interactions, creating group pressure, and pushing some girls to violent relationships. Alternative ways of interaction are also reported, which allow a socialization leading to more freedom, less coercion, and more healthy relationships.
... In the vast majority of media, movies, songs, video clips, TV shows, youth literature, and Internet forums, the male characters presented as most attractive and successful have dominant, aggressive, and sexist behaviors and attitudes toward women (Gómez, 2015). This can later affect some young women's sexual-affective preferences and choices (Rebellon and Manasse, 2004;McDaniel, 2005;Montañés et al., 2013), talking then about coerced preferences (Puigvert and Flecha, 2018), i.e., preferences which are coercively shaped and driven by the existing dominant discourse. Likewise, research has shown that dialogs among friends can create expectations about behavior and gender in relation to the aggressive behavior of men (Kimmel, 1996;Giordano, 2003), so conversations within peer groups are likely to be shaped by the coercive discourse and might reproduce it. ...
Article
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Violence in sexual-affective relationships among teens and young people is recognized as a social, educational, and health problem that has increased worldwide in recent years. Educational institutions, as central developmental contexts in adolescence, are key in preventing and responding to gender violence through implementing successful actions. In order to scientifically support that task, the research reported in this article presents and discusses a psycho-educational intervention focused on autobiographical memory reconstruction that proved to be successful in raising young women’s critical consciousness about the force of the coercive dominant discourse upon sexual-affective experiences and memories. We examined among a sample of young women (n = 32, age range 17-30) whether reading a scientific text about love, the Radical Love book, modified autobiographical memories of violent sexual-affective relationships in line with preventing future victimization. This group was compared with a control group (n = 31, age range 17-30). Memory reports were collected before and after the reading and coded to analyze their content, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Memory quality features were assessed with the Memory Quality Questionnaire. A focus group was also conducted to examine the personal impact of the intervention on participants. Compared with controls, the experimental group had stronger critical memories (of episodes involving violence), an average decrease in positive emotions induced by recall, and an average increase in negative emotions. The results show the effectiveness of the reading intervention designed in relation to gender violence prevention, as they indicate the ability of the psycho-educational action to debilitate the force of the coercive dominant discourse in young women’s memories. The findings both advance knowledge on the reconstructive nature of autobiographical memories of violent sexual-affective relationships in female youth and indicate the potential of memory-based interventions as an instrument to prevent and reduce gender violence in school contexts. Teachers and teaching staff, and educational psychologists, among others, can benefit from these results by expanding the tools they have to address gender violence among female adolescents and youth.
... This is a key question to which he does not provide an answer. In the study conducted by McDaniel (2005), we can see how, when talking about attraction, adolescent girls admit that egalitarian attitudes are not the source of their attraction to boys. These attitudes, they say, can even reduce the power of sexual attraction. ...
Article
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This article explores the paradox that while much emphasis has been put into educating boys in the alternative masculinities, the boys who hold these values are not the ones who are considered attractive in the social imaginary of a large part of the population. Attractiveness to different masculinity models is the result of the process of socialization. The authors argue that there is a mainstream process of socialization – which is not the only one – that promotes the attraction to the dominant traditional model of masculinities, while the opposite process is found with alternatives ones. Drawing from previous studies in the area of preventive socialization of gender-based violence and men’s studies, different aspects are highlighted showing how transformation is built in regards to provide new alternative models of masculinity.
Chapter
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It has been argued that romantic love is an intrinsically moral phenomenon-a phenomenon that is directly connected to morality. The connection is elucidated in terms of reasons for love, and reasons of love. It is said that romantic love is a response to moral reasons-the moral qualities of the beloved. Additionally, the reasons that love produces are also moral in nature. Since romantic love is a response to moral qualities and a source of moral motivation, it is itself moral. This chapter aims to cast doubt on both these claims. By employing the model of emotional rationality it shows that a moralistic fallacy is committed when reasons for love are construed as moral. Reasons of love are also not essentially moral but rather of both moral and nonmoral kinds. Reasons of love are in part determined by cultural narratives and norms pertaining to love. Romantic love is not moral in nature. Morality is extrinsic to love.
Chapter
This chapter delves into the intricacies of liking, attraction, online dating, successful marriage and the roots of divorce to better explicate the rich, but complex development and maintenance of romantic relationships. More specifically, the chapter explores familiarity, similarity, gender, short and long-term dating intentions, trustworthiness, positive partner attraction, dominance, attachment security and other factors that pertain to attraction and liking. The chapter introduces The Cues Filtered out Theory, Social Presence Theory and Media Richness Theory, and delineates the benefits and limitations of online dating as it relates to computer-mediated communication. The chapter delineates the importance of similarity, communication and equity for successful relationships and the detriments of dissatisfaction and conflicts in unsuccessful relationships. Finally, the chapter shows how the Prepare/Enrich Program offers valuable advice for resolving conflicts, recognizing partner strengths, and creating a financially stable and productive life with one's partner.
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An important current debate concerns the originof gender differences in partner preferences. Thesedifferences have been explained both in terms ofevolutionary theory and in terms of social role theory. The present study determines the relativestrengths of both perspectives by investigating, apartfrom gender, the influence of three other importantfactors on partner preferences and for which the two approaches offer divergent hypotheses: age,political orientation and level of education of therespondent. About 95% of the participants were WhiteDutch citizens, the rest were Dutch with one or twoparents from a different ethnic background.Participants were requested to write down the mostimportant characteristics of a potential partner(open-ended format), followed by an instruction toindicate the importance of 39 pre-selected characteristics. Resultsshow that men and women have highly similar preferencesfor characteristics in a potential partner. In addition,it is demonstrated that on crucial characteristics from an evolutionary perspective (i.e.,physical attractiveness and status) significantinteractions between age, political orientation, levelof education and/or gender of the respondents emerge.Most results offer support for a social role theoryof human mate selection. It is concluded that becausegender on its own merely explains a small proportion ofthe total variance in human mate selection, it is important to include other factors, not onlyin order to facilitate our understanding of the fullcomplexity of partner preferences, but also in order tomake theoretical progress in this area.
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The majority of mate selection research focuses on what people want, rather than what they will settle for, in a partner. The present study explored the extent to which sex, self perceived mate value, and relationship context moderate ideal partner preferences and the willingness to compromise ideal standards. When considering a casual sex partner, men and women emphasized and were unwilling to compromise on physical attractiveness; when considering a romantic partner, both emphasized and refused to compromise on interpersonal responsiveness. Sex differences primarily occurred in the context of short-term mating, with women ideally seeking an older more interpersonally responsive sex partner and demonstrating less willingness than men to compromise their standards on a number of dimensions. Men's mate value largely was disassociated with their selection criteria; women's mate value correlated positively with their ideal preferences across many characteristics and in both mating contexts.
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Social exchange and evolutionary models of mate selection incorporate economic assumptions but have not considered a key distinction between necessities and luxuries. This distinction can clarify an apparent paradox: Status and attractiveness, though emphasized by many researchers, are not typically rated highly by research participants. Three studies supported the hypothesis that women and men first ensure sufficient levels of necessities in potential mates before considering many other characteristics rated as more important in prior surveys. In Studies 1 and 2, participants designed ideal long-term mates, purchasing various characteristics with 3 different budgets. Study 3 used a mate-screening paradigm and showed that people inquire 1st about hypothesized necessities. Physical attractiveness was a necessity to men, status and resources were necessities to women, and kindness and intelligence were necessities to both.
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Three multimethod studies (total N = 348) probed the hypothesis that women's attraction to men would be influenced by male prosocial orientation. In Study 1, prosocial men were rated as more physically and sexually attractive, socially desirable, and desirable as dates than were nonprosocial men. Dominant men were no more attractive than low-dominance men, and male dominance did not interact with male prosocial orientation in eliciting attraction from women. In Study 2, prosocial orientation was manipulated to avoid ''personalism,'' but still affected attraction. Across all measures attraction was an interactive function of dominance and prosocial tendencies. Dominance alone did not increase any form of attraction measured. In Study 3, male prosocial tendencies and dominance interacted to affect women's attraction to men. Results are discussed in terms of the place of altruism and dominance in evolutionary approaches to human interpersonal attraction.
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The nice guy stereotype asserts that, although women often say that they wish to date kind, sensitive men, when actually given a choice, women will reject nice men in favor of men with other salient characteristics, such as physical attractiveness. To explore this stereotype, two studies were conducted. In Study 1, 48 college women were randomly assigned into experimental conditions in which they read a script that depicted 2 men competing for a date with a woman. The niceness of 1 target man's responses was manipulated across conditions. In Study 2, 194 college women were randomly assigned to conditions in which both the target man's responses and his physical attractiveness were manipulated. Overall results indicated that both niceness and physical attractiveness were positive factors in women's choices and desirability ratings of the target men. Niceness appeared to be the most salient factor when it came to desirability for more serious relationships, whereas physical attractiveness appeared more important in terms of desirability for more casual, sexual relationships.
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