Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Donate blood - and get laid!

If you're struggling to pick up chicks, perhaps you should change your strategy. Instead of hanging out at bars boasting how much you can bench press, you might spending a few hours with some cute nurses at a Bloodmobile. Why? Because women think that guys who are altruistic are hot.

A new study published in the British Journal of Psychology by researchers at the University of Nottingham has found that being selfless can be sexually attractive, particularly for women. In studies of more than 1,000 people, researchers discovered that women place significantly greater importance on altruistic traits than anything else.

"Evolutionary theory predicts competition between individuals, and yet we see many examples in nature of individuals disadvantaging themselves to help others. In humans, particularly, we see individuals prepared to put themselves at considerable risk to help individuals they do not know for no obvious reward," said lead researcher Dr. Tim Phillips.

Participants in the studies were quizzed about a range of qualities they look for in a mate. Included were questions about examples of altruistic behaviour such as 'donates blood regularly' and 'volunteered to help out in a local hospital.' Women placed significantly greater importance on altruistic traits in all three studies. The usual explanation for altruistic behavior in humans is a variation on 'you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours,' but many have said that this doesn't fully explain why a person would help when the reward of their actions is so distant from the immediate cost. This study could shed some light on the benefits of extreme altruism.

As Dr. Phillips explains, "The expansion of the human brain would have greatly increased the cost of raising children, so it would have been important for our ancestors to choose mates both willing and able to be good, long-term parents. Displays of altruism could well have provided accurate clues to this, and genes linked to altruism would have been favoured as a result." Men who are giving in general might be better husbands, and so women choose men who give. In other words, sexual selection could be a major part of what makes us 'human.'

So if you can't get six-pack abs and six-figure income, and "is that a mirror on your pants, because I can see myself in them" has failed to land you a girlfriend, try volunteering for some kids with cancer. At least it's worth a shot, right?