A new study has revealed that women are more vindictive toward ugly suitors after being turned down by attractive men.
Lead author Geoff MacDonald of the University of Toronto said that they hadn't expected to see derogation of the unattractive male when women had been rejected by the attractive male, but when they replicated the study, the effect was still there.
The new study turns that idea on its head, highlighting that what people want is not immediate acceptance per se but a sense of assurance that the person is acceptable to the sorts of people they want to be connected to, said MacDonald.
The new study sought to replicate more real-world dating scenarios in the lab. The researchers told heterosexual females that they would have the opportunity to meet two male participants after evaluating these men's dating profiles.
The women first wrote profiles about themselves and then viewed the profiles of the men, along with photos, one of whom was more attractive and the other who was less.
The researchers found that not only did the women who were rejected derogate those men but they also rejected the unattractive men, even if they offered acceptance. A possible reason for this effect, MacDonald says, is that being affiliated with an unattractive man would make those women feel like that's the kind of man they deserve, which puts their larger social goals at risk.
The work is important is shedding light on situations that may cause antisocial behavior, for example studies that have shown that rejection can lead to aggression.
On an anecdotal level, MacDonald says that many people who he has spoken with can relate to being harsh towards less-attractive others when their dating life isn't going so well.
The study appears in Social Psychological and Personality Science.