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What Women Want: Reputation More Important Than Facts For Women Hearing About Men's Traits

Women Trust Bad Reputations About Men More Than Good Reputations
A new study reveals women are more attuned to a man's bad reputation more because of the perceived dating risk. Shutterstock.

A recent study has found that women took information more seriously when it was presented to them in a negative manner, even if the facts were exactly the same as the positive presentation. Researchers at Concordia University in Montreal gave female participants the same information with two different renditions in order to gauge their reactions that proved reputations do matter.  

Researchers gave female participants the same factual information, except they presented it in two different ways. For example they said, “Seven out of 10 people who know this person say he is kind.” Participants were then given information about the same subject with a negative approach, “Three out of 10 people who know this person say he is unkind.”

Even though the information is identical, the angle at which the information is framed is completely different. Those women who were given a negative frame about the subject were much more likely to reject him, as opposed to women who were presented the information with a positive approach.

It’s not necessarily true that women are easily tricked by the negative frame, but instead their decision is a highly influenced product of their biological design. Human females, like other female mammals, are wired to place an innate investment into the potential mate that will give them relationship longevity and ultimately the best offspring possible.

Researchers attribute the female mate choice to the “parental investment theory,” which says women have to be more particular about their mates because the consequences are higher for picking the wrong one.

This theory only works if the female is intentionally looking for a partner to have children with; however, females could be subconsciously searching as well. The risk women take by choosing the male subject with the negative frame is perceived as higher because the word “unkind” blocks the potential they may see in the other seven positives.

Dating is a compensatory process, according to Dr. Gad Saad, Concordia University Research chair in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences and Darwinian Consumption. Both men and women look at their potential mates and tally up their perceived score. When a negative perception is put forth, such as the three people who think the subject is unkind, the potential mate’s score goes down.

However, other desirable factors, such as job stability, physical attraction, and compatible goals, may compensate for the negative frame. It is a balancing act of a woman deciding if certain positive traits can compensate for negative traits. The better the balance and equation output, the more likely a woman is to choose a mate because of decreased procreation risk.

Researchers concluded that it is important that a positive perception be presented to them, or else it may be hard for them to overcome certain negative factors, such as an unkind word. Time magazine references the popular app, LuLu, affectionately nicknamed “Yelp for boys,” connects to Facebook and allows other women to rate men in an open forum and comment on their behavior.

If there are too many negative comments, the likelihood of choosing that particular man as a partner is lower because the risk is higher. The study only confirms that, whether it’s true or not, reputation does stand as an important factor in the dating world. 

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