A new study found that when the going gets tough financially, women want to curl up next to the most feminine wimps they can find, whereas if women are worried about ailing health, they’ll run straight into the arms of a burly manly man. More after the jump…

When times are really hard, it seems a woman prefers a man who is a bit of a softie. Contrary to popular belief, rugged, macho fellows just don’t have the same appeal when a damsel is in distress. If they are facing financial problems, women tend to favour fine-featured feminine men over strong silent types, a study has found. It is thought that gentler men are seen as good providers and so a better bet for riding out the economic storm.

The finding could help explain why the current crop of Hollywood heart-throbs is dominated by pretty-boy pin-ups such as Twilight star Robert Pattinson and High School Musical lead Zac Efron, rather than the rugged faces of yesteryear typified by Sean Connery and Kirk Douglas. In other words, wimps are the winners during a credit crunch. The researchers set out to see whether money troubles and health worries affect the type of man a woman finds attractive.

Sixty-five young women were given one of three questionnaires to fill in. One was designed to make the women worry about their finances, another about their health. A third, neutral questionnaire contained questions about belief in the paranormal. The women were then presented with a list of character traits and asked to choose those that would belong to their ideal man. Some, such as intelligence, muscularity and confidence, were linked to men regarded as having good genetic material.

Others, such as being a good provider, and kind, warm and nurturing were chosen because they were seen as signs of a man being father material. Overall, the women put more emphasis on the ‘good dad’ traits.

Those primed to worry about their finances showed the least interest in the macho men, the Royal Society journal Biology Letters reports.This, according to the Australian researchers, suggests that when money is short women are attracted to gentler types, who are seen as good providers and more likely to stick around when times are tough.
The macho men, however, were most attractive to the women made to worry about their health.

This may be because masculinity can be a sign of good genes – and a man who will give a woman strong and healthy children. The researchers concluded there are evolutionary advantages in a woman’s taste in men being flexible.

This would allow women ‘to adapt their preferences to rapid changes in the environment such as pathogen outbreak or a famine’, they said. But it is not only women whose tastes are influenced by the economic climate.

A study of the vital statistics of Playboy centrefolds revealed that when times are prosperous, men set their sights on younger, girlish- looking women, with big eyes and softer features. But when the economy is in decline and social conditions are threatening, men seek solace in curvaceous women with more comforting maternal figures.


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