Physical Attractiveness and the “Nice Guy Paradox”: Do Nice Guys Really Finish Last?

Abstract

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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Correspondence to Geoffrey C. Urbaniak.

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Urbaniak, G.C., Kilmann, P.R. Physical Attractiveness and the “Nice Guy Paradox”: Do Nice Guys Really Finish Last?. Sex Roles 49, 413–426 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1025894203368

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  • mate selection
  • physical attractiveness
  • nice guy