Study with a lesson: Persistence gets the ugly guy the hot girl

Font Size:

Austin Powers might have had “mojo,” but, as most women can attest, there is often a glut of mojo-less unattractive men who think they have a shot at a date, or more — even if the lady in question is clearly out of their league.

The reason: It’s science.

Researchers believe the phenomenon — ugly man pursues hot girl in the sincere belief that he will snag her — is part of an evolutionary trait in men that compels them never to miss a mating opportunity.

A new study published in Psychological Science and detailed at the UK Telegraph explains that overconfidence allows ugly men to increase their possibility of procreating by increasing their interactions. On the flip side, good looking men are less likely to have an unrealistic view of themselves because they are good looking enough to meet their own expectations.

The study, conducted at Williams College, asked 200 men and women to rate their own attractiveness. The subjects then had three-minute conversations with five members of the opposite sex, after which they rated the attractiveness of their “dates” and how interested they thought those members of the opposite sex were in them.

The more attractive a man thought a woman was, the more likely he was to overestimate her interest in him. The less attractive the man, the more likely he was to think an attractive woman was into him. Women, on the other hand, were more likely to underestimate a man’s interest in them.

According to the researchers, it is these errors in mating cues that have increased reproductive success among unattractive men.

“There are two ways you can make an error as a man,” Dr. Carin Perilloux said. “Either you think, ‘Oh, wow, that woman’s really interested in me’ and it turns out she’s not. There’s some cost to that, such as embarrassment or a blow to your reputation. The other error: She’s interested, and he totally misses out. He misses out on a mating opportunity. That’s a huge cost in terms of reproductive success.”

So what should the dating world take away from this?

“For men, the best piece of advice is to be more cautious if you’re interested in someone” Perilloux told MSNBC. Women, she advises, should save their flirting for men in whom they are truly interested. “Men seem to take any flirtatious signal and run with it.”

So say a cheers to science, ladies: That free drink you’re sipping courtesy of Lurch’s misguided expectations is due, in large part, to evolution.

Follow Caroline on Twitter