You can be too intelligent to be attractive, say scientists

Being too intelligent or easy to handle may mean that you are considerably less attractive to a potential partner, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Western Australia asked people how they felt about four important characteristics of a partner: intelligence, convenience, friendliness and physical attractiveness.

Participants in the study were asked how attracted they would be to a potential partner who was more intelligent than 1%, 10%, 25%, 50%, 75%, 90% and then 99% of the population.

This was repeated for all personality traits and the results were published in the British Journal of Psychology.

It turned out that people found someone in the 99th percentile for both intelligence and easy-going was significantly less attractive than someone in the 90th percentile.

The lead author of the study, Gilles Gignac, said that the results were at odds with the idea that kindness and intelligence were the main characteristic of a romantic partner, because people could be wary of too much of a good thing.

A vendor prepares a red rose when customers buy a gift for their Valentine in a store in the center of Baghdad on 14 February 2009. Red roses sell a premium for Valentine's Day this year, with a touch of optimism in the air next to the romance despite the vulnerability of the improved security of Baghdad. AFP PHOTO / SABAH ARAR (photo credit must be SABAH ARAR / AFP / Getty Images)
Despite the fact that friendliness is an important characteristic, people can be too wary of it

"Previously published research suggests that increased levels of intelligence may evoke feelings of insecurity in some people, which may reduce the desirability," he explained.

"In a similar way, exceptional laziness can be seen as an indication of a lack of confidence or ambition.

"On average, it does not appear to be exceptionally friendly or exceptionally physically attractive in the context of attracting a romantic partner," said Mr Gignac.

The study also tried to find out why some people were more attracted to intelligence than others.

It turned out that neither how intelligent a person was, nor even how intelligent they thought they were, was good at predicting how attractive they thought intelligence was.

"This result is surprising, given that there is a different mating for intelligence that indicates a relationship between people in a romantic relationship with similar levels of intelligence," said Mr. Gignac.

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