If you ask any straight man if he is attracted to an intelligent woman, chances are high that he will say yes. If we asked him if he could have a relationship with someone smarter than him, he would probably always 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 one had been more successful. They then told 105 volunteers that a hypothetical classmate had passed a math or language test and another had scored lower. When asked who they preferred as a couple, the men did not hesitate: the smartest woman. However, there is a small problem, that he is not smarter than me.
Smart, yes, but no more than me
These psychologists have gone one step further: they asked volunteers to take a math test and manipulated the results in such a way that the men could score better or worse than the woman sitting next to them.
The researchers found that when men’s scores were higher than women’s, they were more likely to approach her and express romantic interest. However, when they scored lower, they were less attracted and less interested in making an appointment or getting their phone number.
This is not the first experiment to challenge the attraction men say they have for female intelligence. An earlier study conducted at Columbia University was based on a series of speed dating. In these quick meetings, the singles showed that they appreciated the intelligence of the women they encountered, but only to a limited extent. If the woman was smarter or more ambitious, interest in her diminished considerably.
Female intelligence hurts the male ego
Why do some people seem to have trouble dealing with smarter women? The answer comes from a series of experiments conducted at the University of Florida. These psychologists have involved 896 men and women. The men were asked to recall a time when their partner had been more successful intellectually or academically. They then rated her self-esteem and saw that it had dropped significantly.
In another experiment, psychologists subjected couples to intelligence tests. The men were later told that their partner placed in the top 12% of the scores. It was curious to note that even without saying what the score had been, these men experienced a decline in their self-esteem. But the women were not affected by the results of their partners. Why?
These psychologists believe that it is not a reasonable and informed response, but rather a gut reaction. Inadvertently, men do not focus on enjoying the success of their partners, but analyze it from another point of view, thinking that they are the ones who failed.
Probably this thinking comes from the fact that many men still feel the need to defend their status quo, to show that they are competent. A need derived from the cultural role traditionally assigned to their gender, in which the man is conceived as breadwinner of the family and protector of the woman. Therefore, a more intelligent woman could pose a threat to his ego .
The problem is that this way of dealing with the success of women can cause problems in the relationship. In fact, in this study, it was seen that men were taking an emotional distance from their partners and were less optimistic about the future of their relationship when they thought their partner was smarter. Similarly, psychologists have found that restoring men’s self-esteem was enough to ask them about the failures of their partners, which, interestingly, also gave the men greater self-confidence to maintain the relationship through years.
Nothing is 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 partners outperform them cognitively. The key is to be able to focus on the emotional aspect of the relationship. This was confirmed by research conducted at the University of Toronto in which psychologists have simply changed the way they present the results.
This time they told the men that their partners scored the best on IQ tests, but before evaluating the impact of this finding, they asked them to talk about their relationship and the love they felt for the partner. Thus it was seen that when the feelings that unite both people are activated, the female intelligence stops causing fear because the man thinks of their relationship as a “team game”.
Of course, this does not mean that all men are intimidated by female intelligence. When a person is confident enough and believes that he does not need to prove anything to others, he will not be intimidated by the quality of the other, regardless of gender, on the contrary, he will take advantage of the situation.