If you ask any straight man if he's attracted to a smart woman, there's a good chance he'll say yes. If we ask him if he could maintain a relationship with someone smarter than him, he will probably answer yes.
In fact, researchers at the University of Buffalo have confirmed that men prefer smarter women. These psychologists created two female profiles to see which of the two was more successful. They then told 105 volunteers that a hypothetical classmate had passed a math or language test with excellent grades and that another had obtained much poorer grades. When asked who they preferred as a mate, the men didn't hesitate: the smartest woman. Unless…
Smart, yes, but no more intelligent than me
These psychologists went a step further: they asked volunteers to take a math test and manipulated the results so that the men could qualify better or worse than the woman sitting next to them.
The researchers found that when the man's score was higher than the woman's, they were more likely to approach her and express a romantic interest. However, when they scored lower, they felt less attracted and less interested in asking for a date or getting her phone number. In addition, they unconsciously distanced themselves from the exam partner.
In fact, this isn't the first experiment that questions the attraction men say they have for female intelligence. An earlier study conducted at Columbia University was based on a series of speed dating. During these flash encounters, singles showed that they appreciated the intelligence of the women they met, but only up to a point. If the woman was smarter or more ambitious than them, interest in her diminished considerably.
Female intelligence damages the male ego
Why do some men seem to have trouble dealing with smarter women? The answer comes from a series of experiments conducted at the University of Florida. These psychologists involved 896 men and women. Men were asked to recall a time when their partner was most intellectually or academically successful. Then they assessed their self-esteem and saw that it had dropped significantly.
In another experiment, the psychologists subjected couples to intelligence tests. They later told the men that their partner was in the 12% of the best scores. It was curious to note that, even without saying what the score was, these men had experienced a decrease in their self-esteem. But the women weren't affected by their partners' results. Because?
These psychologists believe that this is not a thoughtful and conscious response, but rather a visceral reaction. Inadvertently, men don't focus on enjoying their partner's success, but look at it from another point of view, thinking that they are the ones who failed.
This thought probably stems from the fact that many men still feel the need to defend their status quo, to show a competent image. A necessity that derives from the cultural role that has traditionally been assigned to their gender, in which the man is conceived as the head of the family and protector of the woman. Therefore, a smarter woman could pose a threat to her ego.
The problem is that this way of dealing with female success can cause problems for the relationship. In fact, this study showed how men took an emotional distance from their partner and were less optimistic about the future of their relationship when they thought their partner was smarter. Similarly, psychologists have seen that to restore the male's self-esteem it was enough to ask him about his partner's failures, which, curiously, also gave men more self-confidence to maintain the relationship over the years.
All is not lost: The key is to focus on the emotional relationship
Despite these studies, the point is that men can feel good about themselves even if their partner surpasses them cognitively. The key is being able to focus on the emotional aspect of the relationship. This was confirmed by research conducted at the University of Toronto in which psychologists simply changed the way they present the results.
This time, the men were told that their partner had scored better on the intelligence tests, but before assessing the impact of this, they asked them to talk about their relationship and the love they felt for each other. the other. Thus it was found that when the feelings that bind both are activated, the female intelligence ceases to be frightening because the man thinks of his relationship as a "team" relationship.
Of course, this doesn't mean that all men are intimidated by female intelligence. When a person is sufficiently sure of himself and believes that he does not need to prove anything to others, he will not feel intimidated by the qualities of others, regardless of gender, on the contrary, he will be able to take advantage of the situation.