Less dominant men attractive in recession

In an economic recession women show a preference for less dominant men who describe themselves as 'natural followers'.

This is the finding of Stacey Lewis and Dr Fay Julal from Southampton Solent University, who will present their research at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference today (20 April) at the Grand Connaught Rooms, London (18-20 April).

One hundred and sixty four female participants rated the attractiveness of several mock online dating profiles, with the men varying in their level of attractiveness, dominance and earning potential. The men were evaluated for their potential as short-term or long-term romantic partners. Before evaluating the dating profile, women had to complete a language test which in some cases included words related to an economic recession (e.g. 'bankruptcy').

For a short-term relationship, all women preferred an attractive man. In addition, women thinking of an economic recession preferred a non-dominant man more (one who described himself as a 'natural follower'). For a long-term relationship, all women preferred a dominant man. For marriage, all women preferred a man with high earning potential; looks and dominance did not matter.

The researchers were surprised by their findings. Dr Julal said: "We have a particular group of women in this study. They were all studying, or planning to study, for a degree, so their own earning potential may be relatively high. For this reason, a partner's earning potential may be less important. Nevertheless, our findings show that with an economic recession at the forefront of their mind, women preferred a short-term (dating) partner who was less able to provide resources."