Study Confirms Your Awful Suspicions About Men And Dating

"Scientists have discovered that men, when deciding on who to date, really do make a decision based on a woman's curvy body, not her face, let alone her wit or brains." And yes, it gets worse from there.

According to Harry Wallop of the Telegraph, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin asked 375 men and women who they'd like to date for the short or long term, based on a series of photos. The catch: subjects could choose to see either the person's face or body, but not both. Asked who they'd like a short-term relationship with, men were more likely to look at a woman's body. But when told to think long-term, they preferred the face. Here's Wallop's ultra-depressing summary: "Scientists found that men will only study a woman's face if they are looking for a wife, rather than a short-term partner."

What really bothers me about this study isn't that some dudes would rather look at a lady's body than her face (is one really more or less shallow than the other?). It's the idea that men have totally different decision processes for hookups and "wife material." This is an old concept, and one that shows up everywhere. On a recent Jersey Shore, for instance, Vinny got all sad because a girl stood him up after he planned to do "wife stuff" with her — ie take her out to dinner. Far more upsetting than any face/body dichotomy is the implication that men categorize women into wives or hookups within seconds of meeting them.

However, the study doesn't really show that — because the subjects never actually met their potential "dates." Since the men involved were apparently asked to consider either a short- or long-term relationship, the study doesn't really shed much light on real-world scenarios, where the former can turn into the latter. Nor does it reveal anything about whether men (or women) actually categorize people into short- or long-term prospects when scientists aren't prompting them to do so. And finally, since it appears the photos did not depict women's "wit or brains," the study doesn't really say anything about whether those factors are important either.

I have no doubt there are douchebags out there of both sexes who will write off someone's long-term potential based on superficial criteria. And it's somewhat interesting that men who were asked to consider a short-term hookup went for the ass rather than the eyes (the women in the study showed no such preference). But as with many "mate choice" studies, this one is sort of the equivalent of a medical treatment tested in a petri dish. We'd need to know if it works in vivo before we draw any real conclusions.

Men Look At Bodies, Not Faces, When Picking Date [Telegraph]