Somebody smile at me, please - I'm desperate to attract a mate
FORGET the smooth chat-up lines and designer suits, guys. Scientists have revealed the secret to success with women is to persuade a female friend to smile at you.
The study by academics at Aberdeen University found that observing a woman smiling at a man's face led female participants to declare that man to be more attractive than others.
Researchers said the study validates the perception of many men who report getting far more attention from the opposite sex when they are involved with a woman than when they are single.
But while being seen to be desired by other women makes a man more popular with the ladies, it does not necessarily win him male friends.
Men who took part in the study gave lower "attractiveness" ratings to other males if they saw them provoke admiration from women.
The study of 60 students, performed at the university's Face Research Lab, adds to the growing understanding of the factors influencing female attraction. Most of these discoveries have been related to biological influences - women, for example, are more likely to find certain male faces attractive during ovulation.
But head researcher Dr Ben Jones said this study was one of the first to look at how social factors influence attraction.
"We tend to think about attraction as a personal thing and personal choice, but we actually seem to be quite influenced by what other people think.
"You hear a lot of men saying 'when I was with my girlfriend I had a lot of interest from other women, but since we've split up that interest has vanished'. We've shown that this is probably true."
In the study, women were asked to choose between two pictures of men. They were then shown a slide-show in which another woman was seen smiling at one of the pictures. When questioned afterwards, they were more attracted to the picture the other female smiled at.
Dr Jones said the findings offered insight into evolutionary mechanisms behind mate selection: "From an evolutionary standpoint, the qualities women find attractive - health, willingness to invest in child-rearing - are not always visible. So women will copy the mate preference of other women on the assumption that the other woman might know something she doesn't."
The study was inspired by an animal study involving guppy fish that found female fish are most likely to mate with male fish that have a female swimming near by. Another study put fake females in the territory of a male grouse and found doing so helped the male win a mate.
The researchers said the findings can help lonely hearts. In the US, a service called Wingwoman allows single men to hire an attractive woman to feign interest in them at bars and restaurants in an effort to attract other available women.
Anthony Little, one of the research team, said men should beware, however, as other men might not take kindly to the attention they receive. "If you see someone attractive of the same sex it can be distressing because it means your own value is decreased," he said.
Professor David Perrett of St Andrews University, a leading researcher in facial perception, welcomed the study. He said: "It's a very clever piece of work and is one of the first to show a form of social learning and the interaction between the sex of the observer and sex of the model."
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