Explaining the appeal of Mr Darcy

Women are more sexually attracted to brooding or swaggering men than they are to males who appear happier, new research has found. The University of British Columbia (UBC) study revealed significant gender differences in the ways men and women rank the sexual attractiveness of non-verbal expressions of commonly displayed emotions.

These include happiness, pride and shame - and the investigation, published online in the American Psychological Association journal Emotion, showed females were more taken with members of the opposite sex who looked proud and powerful or moody and ashamed than those who appeared cheery.

UBC psychology graduate student and study co-author Alec Beall noted the findings only considered first impressions of sexual attractiveness.

"We were not asking participants if they thought these targets would make a good boyfriend or wife – we wanted their gut reactions on carnal, sexual attraction," he explained.

Dr Jane McCartney, Chartered Psychologist, said: "Perhaps women like to have to make that extra effort in the way they dress, look, act [and] work just to get that approval from the brooding type."

"Mr Nice Guy by his thoughtful nature will always find something positive to say, but Mr Broody may not, so when the effort is made and the approval comes it means more."

"Broodiness can also be related to increased confidence and self belief, which in turn equals greater protection and security."

A recent study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science suggested individuals who break the rules of social behaviour appear to others to be more powerful than those who do not.