Do conformist women attract more men?

"The old gender stereotype—that men go for conformist, submissive women—has been slow to die," says Matthew Hornsey. "The consequence may be that women rein themselves in when dating, when they would be better served by just being themselves." (Credit: "paper dolls" via Shutterstock)

Experiments with online dating profiles suggest independent women fare better in the search for love.

Many women grew up feeling they had to fundamentally change themselves in order to find love, says Professor Matthew Hornsey of University of Queensland’s School of Psychology.

“In particular, there is a belief among women that they need to be conformist in order to be attractive to men. Our research shows that there is a pervasive belief that men go for relatively conformist women, but all our data suggests the opposite.”

Hornsey and colleagues drew on popular dating apps and sites, presenting people with profiles of potential dates who were conformist or non-conformist in their dress, attitudes, and tastes. In each case, men preferred non-conformist women.

In other studies, people filled out personality questionnaires and rated how successful they had been in attracting dates.

Women who said they were more independent reported more romantic success.

Hornsey says that on the rare occasions where results varied for male and female participants, it was women who benefitted most from non-conformity.

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He says the findings were overwhelmingly positive for women and busted some long-held myths.

“A cursory glance at early 20th-century books on etiquette, courting, and ‘properness’ all deliver an expectation that women should be subdued, modest, and agreeable,” he says. “But times have changed. Society now tells us that independence is a sign of integrity and strong character.

“The old gender stereotype—that men go for conformist, submissive women—has been slow to die. The consequence may be that women rein themselves in when dating, when they would be better served by just being themselves.”

The research appears in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Source: University of Queensland