We say it all time, hell, we may even have it written on our dating apps that we prefer someone who is intelligent, but we may not mean it. Shame.
A new study from the University of Western Australia suggests that while in theory we want a partner who is smart, people who are too clever may actually be a turn-off. So much for calling ourselves sapiosexual.
The brainy bunch, probably secretly looking into their own dating viability and desireability, surveyed young adults and asked them to rate what they found attractive in a partner: intelligence, easy-goingness, kindness, and physical attractiveness.
The participants were asked how attracted they would be to a potential partner who was more intelligent than 1 percent, 10 percent, 25 percent, 50 percent, 75 percent, 90 percent, and then 99 percent of the population.
They were then asked the same question for each of the other three personality traits.
The results showed that how attractive kindness and physical attractiveness were rated plateaued at the 90th percentile, with lead author Gilles Gignac commenting, “So, on average, there doesn’t appear to be any gain to being exceptionally kind or exceptionally physically attractive in the context of attracting a romantic partner.”
However, the study suggests that it may be possible to be too intelligent or too easygoing, with the researchers finding that there was a statistically significant reduction in how attractive intelligence and easygoingness were rated at the 99th percentile, compared to the 90th percentile.
“Previously published research suggests that elevated levels of intelligence may incite feelings of insecurity in some people, which may reduce desirability,” explained Gignac. “Correspondingly, exceptional easy-goingness may be viewed as an indication of a lack of confidence or ambition.”
When looking at differences between genders, the findings implied that females value kindness and intelligence in a potential partner more than males. However, overall the differences were small, with the study finding that men and women are essentially similar with respect to how desirable they rate intelligence, physical attraction, easygoingness, and kindness.
How attractive each of the four characteristics was rated to be was also similar whether participants were rating the trait as a sexually attractive characteristic or for a long-term relationship.
For those who are intelligent, perhaps ‘brave’ is a quality that ought to be in a potential partner.