Men Say They Like Smart Women, But Research Says Otherwise

When men talk about what they look for in a romantic partner, they’ll often say that they want her to be beautiful, funny, confident, and also smart.

Across the board, most men will say that they want to date an intelligent woman, but science actually says that might not be true.

It’s Topic That’s Been Looked Into A Fair Bit

man and woman on dinner date
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Rene Ranisch
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Rene Ranisch

There has been a fair amount of research into whether or not men feel intimidated by intelligent women.

More to the point, there’s been a lot of research into how much men actually value intelligence in a romantic partner.

One Study Was Particularly Enlightening

people writing on paper with laptops out
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Scott Graham
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Scott Graham

An article published in the Personality And Social Psychology Bulletin, a publication dedicated to psychological research, outlined a study that sought to understand whether men actually want to date intelligent women.

We’ll walk you through the study’s methodology and general conclusions.

So Here’s The How:

group of men talking and sitting
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Romain
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Romain

The researchers gathered a group of 650 heterosexual men to participate in six different iterations of the same study.

In the first round of research, the men were asked how they would feel about dating a woman who was smarter than them.

They Were Into It

woman wearing glasses
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Ana Itonishvili
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Ana Itonishvili

In the first round of the study, almost all of the men responded to the question by saying that they would definitely like to date a woman who was more intelligent than them.

It figures—not many people would admit that they wanted someone dumber, it’d make them look insecure.

They Decided To Put Their Words To The Test

man writing focused on piece of paper
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Ben Mullins
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Ben Mullins

In the second part of the study, each man individually took a test and received their “grade” on it.

After being told their results, the men were informed that another woman in the room had scored higher than him on the test.

They Were Still Pretty Into It

woman in library looking at books
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Clay Banks
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Clay Banks

When later interviewed regarding their feelings toward this unseen woman who had done better than him on the test, they said that they found it attractive that she was intelligent.

Sounds like this shows that men do like intelligent women, right? Well, hold on.

…And Then Things Got Murky

woman in nice dress sitting at conference table
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Dane Deaner
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Dane Deaner

In another part of the study, men took a test in the same room as a conventionally attractive woman.

Following the test, they were each informed that they didn’t perform as well as that woman in the room.

Suddenly, Being Smart Wasn’t All That Hot

woman wearing glasses posing
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Behrouz Sasani
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Behrouz Sasani

When interviewed following the experience about how they felt about the woman who had outperformed them, almost all of the men said they found her to be unattractive and held no romantic interest in her.

“Surely,” you might be thinking, “this woman just wasn’t their type.” Well, they controlled for that.

Think That She Just Wasn’t That Hot? Think Again

dane-deaner-iJ1lw8iNIy8-unsplash
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Dane Deaner
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Dane Deaner

The study was also run inversely so that a group of the men was told that the woman (the same as before) has scored lower than them on the test.

Almost all of them answered that they found her attractive and they would be romantically interested in her.

What Did This Mean?

beautiful woman
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Nick Arnot
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Nick Arnot

The psychologists involved in the study concluded that men perceive a more intelligent woman at a distance when she’s more of an idea, but when directly faced with a woman who was objectively smarter than them, they were disinterested.

So they like smart women in the abstract, but the second a smart woman is more than just an idea, they lose interest.

The Results Hold Up In Real Life

man sitting on stair above woman who's looking up at him
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Randy Kinne
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Randy Kinne

It makes sense, really.

The results of the study fit with the way that some women will “dumb themselves down” when talking to guys in order to be more romantically attractive.

It Also Shows Why Accomplished Women Often Are Single

woman in lab coat and protective eyewear
Photo Credit: Unsplash / This Is Engineering
Photo Credit: Unsplash / This Is Engineering

Have you ever met a woman who is incredibly smart, interesting, and accomplished only for her to say she has trouble finding a male romantic partner?

The likelihood is that male egos can’t handle the reality that they might date someone who is smarter than them.