Released online yesterday, findings in a UCSB researcher’s study suggest women know almost at first glance how long they want men around, whether it be for life or for a short fling.
Psychology Assistant Professor James Roney said he and researchers at the University of Chicago wrote the study, which sought to measure a woman’s ability to judge a man’s interest in children as well as his level of testosterone. Female participants in the study judged male subjects by looking at pictures of faces bearing neutral expressions.
Published by the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, the study found that women subconsciously perceived men’s level of interest in children by looking at cues on their faces. Female participants considered these men attractive for long-term relationships.
Meanwhile, men whose faces appeared to have high levels of testosterone were considered attractive for short-term relationships.
After analyzing the women’s responses, researchers compared them to the male subjects’ self-expressed interest in children, as well as clinically tested testosterone level, Roney said.
“Women are surprisingly accurate in being able to determine interest in children and testosterone levels,” Roney said in a UCSB press release. “Our data suggest that men’s interest in children predicts their long-term mate attractiveness even after we account for how physically attractive the women rated the men.”
The participants’ analyses of their subjects were supported by tests conducted on their male counterparts, Roney said in an interview yesterday. Male subjects, who represented a variety of ethnic backgrounds, gave saliva samples to measure their testosterone levels.
Additionally, researchers presented the male subjects with a picture of a baby and a picture of an adult, and were asked which picture they preferred: About nine out of 10 men chose the baby picture, roughly 12 percent expressed no interest in the baby picture, and the remaining subjects had a range of interest.
“I don’t think any study before has had women predicting as accurately the men interested in children,” Roney said.
Roney said analyzing the males’ testosterone level from their saliva samples was the most expensive part of the research project and was funded by the University of Chicago. He said UCSB funded the costs of the photos, paper and usage of space.
“The men’s testosterone tests were around a couple thousand dollars,” he said. “That was all done at Chicago.”
Female participants in the study were students at UCSB, while the male participants came from Chicago, Roney said.
Roney said he came to UCSB from the University of Chicago in July of 2004. He said the study began in fall of 2003 and took slightly over two years to complete. However, he said submitting the study multiple times for review to United Kingdom editors took additional time.
“We first submitted last August and the editors asked for changes, which we made,” Roney said.
Roney said the online article will appear in print within a month.
“We’ve already been [approached] by about 40 major newspapers, including Associated Press,” he said. “‘Good Morning America’ has contacted us.”