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The mating game: women play copycat

A lonely man desperate to find a girlfriend might be well advised to hire a few women to smile at him - and let female copycat genes run their course.

india Updated: Jan 17, 2007 08:49 IST

A lonely man desperate to find a girlfriend might be well advised to hire a few women to smile at him — and let female copycat genes run their course.

British psychologists have discovered that, when sizing up a man, a woman takes her cues from other women around him.

If those women are looking happily at him, that has a big influence on the woman's assessment. The more female smiles there are, the likelier she is to consider the guy a catch.

Researchers led by Benedict Jones of the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, recruited 28 young women whose average age was 24.

The volunteers first looked at photographs of four young men wearing neutral expressions and looking directly at the camera.

The men were shown in pairs, and the women had to judge which of the two was the more attractive, apportioning their preference a score on an eight-point scale.

The same faces were shown again to the volunteers. This time, though, the male faces were flanked by a female face — a woman, shown in profile, who either looked neutrally at the man or smiled at him.

After this, the volunteers took another look at the paired faces, as in the first step of the experiment, and were asked to give another attractiveness rating.

Many of them revised sharply downward their initial grading of the man, by more than 10 per cent on average, if his picture had been next to a woman with a neutral expression.