The gift of gab isn’t just useful for getting you out of speeding tickets. Apparently, it can also improve your love life — if you’re a man, at least. According to a new study, women view men who are good storytellers as more attractive. On the other hand, this preference for good storytelling skills wasn’t reciprocated, and men didn’t find loquacious women as being any more attractive than their more reserved counterparts.

“There has been quite a bit of research on the persuasive power of narratives, but most of that work has just examined how people's attitudes or beliefs change as a result of hearing or reading a story,” Melanie C. Green, an author of the study from the University of Buffalo, told Medical Daily in an email. “We were interested in extending that work to look at the interpersonal consequences of stories — that is, how do people perceive or judge the people who are telling the stories?”

The team ran a series of experiments to determine the value that men and women placed on good storytelling skills in a potential partner. They recruited 388 undergraduate students in the United States, 55 percent of whom were women, and had them all rate a potential partner’s attractiveness based on their written biography. Along with other characteristics, the biographers either highlighted the individuals as good storytellers, poor storytellers, or did not mention their storytelling skills at all.

Results showed that, based on their biographies, both male and female respondents considered storytellers as having a higher status than those who couldn’t tell a tale. For women, however, storytelling skills did more than just increase the perceived social status of a man; it also made them more attractive. Being a good storyteller did not increase women’s attractiveness, however.

Next, the team wanted to see if simply reading a good story written by someone of the opposite sex was enough to inspire attraction. Some stories were vivid and well written while others were less entertaining to read. Interestingly though, the quality of the story did not affect how attractive the writers were perceived to be, suggesting that what makes storytelling so attractive lies not in the actual story, but in its delivery.

According to the researchers, the reasons for this may have evolutionary roots. “The pattern of results suggests that males who were better storytellers might have been better at gaining resources (food, shelter, etc.), perhaps because they were more likely to assume leadership roles or have higher status in society,” Green theorized.

Historically, men haven’t considered higher social status as an important trait in the women they find attractive, the researchers said. “From an evolutionary perspective, men might be more focused on other features in a potential mate — for example, cues to health or fertility [such as some features of physical attractiveness],” said Green.

This may explain why good female storytellers are less often viewed as being especially attractive. What’s more, the researchers said that society may have even trained men to be suspicious of a woman who tries to catch the attention of others, as they might through captivating stories.

While these conclusions are only speculative, the authors hope the research will make people think about the importance that storytelling plays in relationships.

Source: Donahue JK, Green MC. A good story: Men's storytelling ability affects their attractiveness and perceived status. Personal Relationships . 2016