In today’s world where gender equality is promoted in our society, we often see that women surpass as men’s equals and stand as intellectual superiors. Usually, while dating, we want someone who slightly exceeds our intelligence to sharpen and smarten ourselves. More and more research reveals that men merely appeal to the idea of dating a smart woman. In reality though, they find smart women less desirable romantic partners.
A new study at the University of Buffalo, California Lutheran University and the University of Texas at Austin confirms the old truism that men are intimidated by intelligent women. This was published in the November edition of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
The researchers proposed two hypothetical scenarios to a group of 105 men. In one group, “a woman either outperformed or under-performed them in a math or English course, and then instructed the men to imagine this woman as a romantic partner.” In general, men ranked the woman who bested them as the more desirable partner – “Men formed favorable impressions and showed greater interest in women who displayed more (versus less) intelligence than themselves.”
In the second part of the study, the men were given an intelligence test and told they would meet a woman who had scored better than them on the test. In response to meeting the more intelligent woman, men “distanced themselves more from her, tended to rate her as less attractive, and showed less desire to exchange contact information or plan a date with her.”
The researchers wrote, “Feelings of diminished masculinity accounted for men’s decreased attraction toward women who outperformed them in the live interaction context.” The sample size being rather small is not definitely conclusive for the study. However, previous studies such as the 2013 report in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that “men experienced lower self-esteem in the face of the success of their wives or girlfriends.”
So the conclusion? Smart women are only desirable as imaginary characters for intelligent men. This is rather depressing news. We’re flailing under a double-edged sword here.