Being Selfless Could Help You Get Laid


In news that will be unsurprising to most non-jerks, a study shows that altruism may have evolved because people tend to choose mates who help out from time to time.

According to Richard Alleyne of the Telegraph (via Good Men Project), researchers from the University of Nottingham and King’s College, London surveyed women to determine their level of altruism. Questions included “have you given money to charity?” and “have you dived into a river to save someone from drowning?” (the latter also appears on the popular “Are You A Heroic Family Pet?” survey). Women were then asked if they preferred selflessness in dudes. Writes Alleyne, “Statistical analysis of their responses suggested that, in our evolutionary past, those with a stronger mate preference towards altruistic behaviour mated more frequently with more altruistic people.”

I did crave a little more explanation here, and the original study doesn’t appear to be online. But from Alleyne’s somewhat brief summary, it seems the study shows not so much that “Nice guys usually get the girl in the end” (the Telegraph‘s headline) but that selflessness has persisted among humans because selfless people get together and have selfless kids. However, an earlier study, also conducted the University of Nottingham, found that women (and to a lesser extent men) value altruism in a partner, apparently irrespective of whether they are altruistic themselves. So it may not just be like seeking like — says study author Tim Phillips, “The expansion of the human brain would have greatly increased the cost of raising children so it would have been important for our ancestors to choose mates both willing and able to be good, long-term parents.” Makes sense — if I’m going to spend all that time having a kid, I want someone who’s willing to pull it out of the river once in a while.

Nice Guys Usually Get The Girl In The End [Telegraph]
Study Of The Day: Nice Guys Finish First [Good Men Project]

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