The science of seduction can be a tough one to pin down, and society has its own ideas about what makes men or women tick (or tickled) when it comes to romantic partners — but while people may rate looks, wealth or charm and charisma highly, it turns out a “playful” demeanor is really what will get the opposite (or same, if that’s your bag) sex lining up at your door for a date.
Yes, playfulness has been pegged as the single most influential factor when it comes to landing a partner, edging out other, more traditionally thought to be valued qualities as the numero uno determinator of whether someone will dig you. A new study carried out by researchers at Pennsylvania State University found it to be the uniting factor between both sexes in what is sought in a mate.
Of course, the relative youth of the participants — 164 men and 89 women, between the ages of 18 and 26, all college students — may have been a factor in the findings placing playfulness at the top of the list for mate attraction.
But in a news release, the University’s Garry Chick explained why a playful demeanor may attract the ladies and fellas more than a banging body or large bank account:
“Humans and other animals exhibit a variety of signals as to their value as mates… just as birds display bright plumage or coloration, men may attract women by showing off expensive cars or clothing.”
“In the same vein, playfulness in a male may signal to females that he is nonaggressive and less likely to harm them or their offspring… A woman’s playfulness, on the other hand, might signal her youth and fertility.”
Chick acknowledged that the relative ages of participants may have been a factor — but that it doesn’t mean lovers of all ages don’t value a playful mate:
“…the results may be skewed by the fact that most of the study subjects were college students from a western culture. Despite these caveats, it seems to us that signaling one’s virtues as a potential long-term mate through playfulness is not far-fetched. Our results suggest that adult playfulness may result from sexual selection and signal positive qualities to potential long-term mates.”
The study was published in the August issue of the American Journal of Play.