Women are more inclined to date war heroes than regular soldiers or men who display heroic traits in other fields, such as in sports or natural disaster work, says a research.
On the contrary, men find female heroes, both in combat and in disaster zones, less sexually attractive than their non-hero counterparts, the findings showed.
"This provides evidence for the hypothesis that gender differences in inter-group conflict can have an evolutionary origin, as only males seem to benefit from displaying heroism," said co-author of the study Joost Leunissen, psychologist at the University of Southampton.
In the study, 92 women studying in Britain were presented with hypothetical profiles of the opposite sex, representing varying levels of heroism in different contexts such as warfare, sport and business.
Women were more likely to find a soldier attractive, and were more inclined to date him, if he had been awarded a medal for bravery in combat.
Interestingly, whether or not a non-decorated soldier had seen combat in a war zone or remained in Britain did not have a statistically significant effect on his attractiveness.
Displays of heroism in other fields, such as in sports or in business, also had no effect on how likely women were to find them attractive.
In a subsequent experiment by the researchers, 159 women and 181 men studying in the Netherlands took part in a similar exercise to determine their level of sexual attraction to the opposite sex.
Again, heroism in combat increased women's levels of sexual attraction towards male soldiers, but heroism in a disaster zone had no impact.
Female heroes, both in combat and in disaster zones, were deemed less attractive by men than their non-hero counterparts.
The study appeared in the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour.