The next time you catch a man checking you out it's probably because he's heard all the intelligent things you've been saying.

While it may be hard to believe, new findings suggest that modern men increasingly value brains over beauty and character over curves.

Investigators found that even traditional wifely skills like being good at cooking and cleaning are becoming less important to modern men.

Scientists say that interest in a woman's appearance is in decline, particularly in Western societies where men and women are considered equal.

However, researchers found that women are becoming more superficial. Researchers said that the modern woman tends to be more interested in a man's looks and less preoccupied by a man's wealth compared to earlier times, as women are now able to depend on themselves financially.

"We found in societies like Britain, or especially in Scandinavia, men place increasing value on other qualities, like intelligence, rather than curvy figures or skill at cooking," said Dr. Marcel Zentner, a psychologist at York University, according to Daily Mail.

"Traditionally, women prefer wealthy men who have an ability to invest resources in any children," he added. "What we found was that as women because more equal, this preference declines, but men's looks become much more important."

Zentner had surveyed around 12,000 people in more than 30 countries. Participants were asked to describe which characteristics they valued the most in a potential partner, and researchers tallied the results to the country's ranking on gender equality from the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index which evaluates educational opportunities, health and political empowerment.

Researchers found that people from countries that scored the highest for gender inequality tended to prefer traditional evolutionary traits. Men in these countries tended to prefer curvy women who knew how to cook, while women tended to choose men who can provide materially for a family.

However in more equal societies, there was a change in attitude, which contradicted the common view that our mate choices are evolutionarily "hardwired" in our brains, suggest the British scientists in an article published in journal Psychological Science.

Researchers said that while countries in Western societies have not reversed toward a culture of trophy husbands and female bread-winners, there appears to be a noticeable "shift in emphasis".

"These findings challenge the idea proposed by some evolutionary psychologists that gender differences in mate-preferences are determined by evolved adaptations that became biologically embedded in the male and female brain," Zentner said, according to the Sunday Times.

"Our study suggests that increases in gender equality in the society around us can also change the way we think about the opposite sex," he added. "Men can relax about having to build up wealth, but may benefit from looking after their looks a little more."