Even before James Dean graced the silver screen in his leather jacket and made girls in poodle skirts everywhere swoon, us females couldn’t seem to stop ourselves when confronted with a bad boy. In a recent study in the Science Daily, Why Women Choose Bad Boys: Ovulating Women Perceive Sexy Cads as Good Dads, Kristina Durante, a marketing professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, blames our attraction and bad decisions on biology.
Like moths to a flame, it seems that time and time again, women throw caution to the wind — along with our logic and panties — and chase after those men we just know will burn us. I’d always attributed this phenomenon to the thrill of the chase, the allure of danger, or perhaps, some weird fetish for emotional masochism. However, Durante explains that in fact, it all comes down to science.
When ovulating, women are subconsciously drawn to men who give off a strong and virile persona, wired to think that these men will be better providers for a family.
“Under the hormonal influence of ovulation, women delude themselves into thinking that the sexy bad boys will become devoted partners and better dads,” explained Durante in her study.
She began her work by observing quite literally, the birds and the bees. Well, really only the birds. By watching how these animals’ mating patterns worked, she was able to shed some light on our own species.
“I began by looking at how other females in other species make decisions based on parental investment,“ said Durante.
She further explained that humans, being animals like any other, also follow that basic drive for choosing partners based on protection and procreation. The only difference being that “the animals don’t feel the decrease in self-esteem we do when we make the wrong choice.”
In the study, she had university-aged women in the week of ovulation, compare online dating profiles of typical “bad boy” types to those who fit the “nice guy” mould. Results showed that nearly all the women chose the bad boy, based on the thought that he would be a better father and caregiver.
“When looking at the sexy cad through ovulation goggles, Mr. Wrong looked exactly like Mr. Right,” Durante told Science Daily.
Now, we might be drawn to guys with scruff and smoldering eyes, or those who are a little wild and can’t be pegged down, however, it all comes down to our most primitive instincts.
“We’re so attracted to these markers in men, because they once meant survival of the species,” said Durante. “If you think about the more predictable nice guys, these are not the cues that historically were able to survive.”
Interestingly, “when asked about what kind of father the sexy bad boy would make if he were to have children with another woman, women were quick to point out the bad boy’s shortcomings,” said Durante.
Basically, when left to our own hormonal devices, we can’t always be trusted to make the right decisions but all hope is not lost.
“We can override our desires for eating too much chocolate cake and going after these guys, but the impulses are still there,” said Durante.