Although not yet published, Lars Penke has kindly let me see his full presentation about whether women find bright men sexy.
Not much, these experiments show. Yes, they are experiments, and these are always at some distance from real life. One day people may record every stage of courtship, but until then some manipulations are required.
The researchers have given the guys every chance to reveal their intellects and, crucially, the women making the judgments are able to hazard guesses as to how bright the guys are, which correlate 0.34 with tested intelligence. This is interesting in itself. I never claim to be able to judge intelligence immediately, but these women seem to do so at better than chance level.
The researcher’s conclusions are as follows:
- Physical attractiveness is still the strongest predictor of initial attraction, for both long- and short-term mating
- Intelligence can be accurately perceived at first sight
- g has small positive effect on female long-term attraction
- g hardly increases female short-term attraction
- Intelligence has likely not been “genetically captured” by sexual selection as a genetic fitness indicator
My conclusion: Women can somewhat predict male intelligence, and would probably do better in a real conversation. Physical attraction is what they want, at least on this controlled presentation, and before they can carry out more extensive enquiries (which may or may not lead to investigations of penile girth, supposedly another important matter).
Finally, the slides say of the women judges that they were “unacquainted with men”. If true, this would be a major methodological flaw. What would virgins know about the attractions of intelligent men? How is a bright guy expected to impress a woman unless he can follow up his humorous introductions with a highly crafted and intelligent sexual performance?
Perhaps it means “not acquainted with these particular men” but surely the researchers would do the decent thing, and pass on the young men the telephone numbers of those young women who, upon hearing them tell their jokes, found themselves overcome by lust?