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Surprising finding shows what women want from men

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Women love a man with a sense of humor, finds study.

Penn state researchers have honed in on what women want from men. Humor and playfulness are both high ranking characteristics for women when choosing a mate. The finding is somewhat of a surprise, because it’s only human females that want a humorous, fun-loving and playful mate. Men, on the other hand, want a woman who shows signs of being fertile.

Playful mate important for women

Humans, unlike other mammals, continue to play throughout life, according to the study authors. The reason might be playfulness is a part of the human evolutionary mating process,

For adult mammals, goofing around is useless and can even be dangerous, exposing animals to predators and making them less vigilant.

Garry Chick, professor and head of the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management explains in a media release, "Just as birds display bright plumage or coloration, men may attract women by showing off expensive cars or clothing. In the same vein, playfulness in a male may signal to females that he is nonaggressive and less likely to harm them or their offspring. A woman's playfulness, on the other hand, may signal her youth and fertility."

But it turns out men look for traits in women that indicated signs of fertility - "physically attractive," "healthy," and "good heredity".

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The Penn State researchers surveyed college age students they found out "sense of humor," "fun loving" and "playful" ranked second, third and fourth for traits women desire in men, out of 16 choices.

The study expands on previous research from Chick and colleagues Careen Yarnal and Andrew Purrington who added 3 characteristics that make a good mate to their previous list of 13.

The survey respondents included 164 male and 89 female undergraduate students, ages 18 to 26. The study authors admit the findings could be skewed because the surveys were from college students from a Western culture.

Nevertheless, Chick says a woman’s desire for a man who is ‘fun-loving’, playful and has a good sense of humor isn’t at all far-fetched. “Our results suggest that adult playfulness may result from sexual selection and signal positive qualities to potential long-term mates."

Men want women who are healthy, attractive and have good genes so they can bear children Women are looking for a playfulness in a man and a good sense of humor - probably because he’ll need both when it comes to raising a family together. Of course, Chick says that doesn’t mean a woman will always end up with mate with a good sense of humor. Playfulness also makes it easier to be an adult, the study authors point out.

American Journal of Play
"Play and Mate Preference
Testing the Signal Theory of Adult Playfulness"
Garry Chick, Careen Yarnal, and Andrew Purrington
Media release August 3, 2012

Image credit: Morguefile