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Why do women choose sexy men who are bad dads?

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
James Bond wouldn't make a good dad, but why do women choose 'bad boys"?

If you’ve ever wondered why women choose sexy, unreliable, ‘bad boys’ over caring men who are dependable, researchers might finally have the answer. It seems it’s all about hormones. When women are close to ovulating they just can’t resist rebellious, sexy men even though the chances of a long-term relationship are non-existent.

Fertility distorts a woman’s perception

Researcher Kristina Durante, assistant professor of marketing at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) found out how powerful hormones can be when it comes to choosing a man who would be a good dad.

Durante said in a press release, "Previous research has shown in the week near ovulation women become attracted to sexy, rebellious and handsome men like George Clooney or James Bond. But until now it was unclear why women would ever think it's wise to pursue long-term relationships with these kinds of men."

She says when women are influenced by ovulation they convince themselves that ‘sexy bad boys’ will somehow turn into devoted partners and good dads. She adds that ovulation makes “Mr. Wrong look like Mr. Right.”

For the study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, women were shown online profiles of two types of men – sexy or reliable. The dating profiles were viewed when women were nearing ovulation and fertile and during low fertility.

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When the women were close to ovulating they said sexy men would cook, clean and help with shopping and child rearing.

In a second experiment the women met face to face with actors who played either a “cad” or “reliable dad”, once during ovulation and then again when they were not fertile.

"When asked about what kind of father the sexy bad boy would make if he were to have children with another woman, women were quick to point out the bad boy's shortcomings," said Durante. "But when it came to their own child, ovulating women believed that the charismatic and adventurous cad would be a great father to their kids."

The answer to “Why do some women pursue relationships with men who are attractive, dominant, and charming but who do not want to be in relationships—the prototypical sexy cad” seems to boil down to hormones.

Being close to ovulation distorts a woman’s perception, leading them to choose a sexy, unreliable guy over a dependable man who would make a good dad. Durante says maybe mating with a sexy cad might be too costly for some women to pass up, because you just never know……”

Ovulation Leads Women to Perceive Sexy Cads as Good Dads.
Durante, Kristina M.; Griskevicius, Vladas; Simpson, Jeffry A.; Cantú, Stephanie M.; Li, Norman P.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, May 14, 2012, No Pagination Specified. doi: 10.1037/a0028498

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