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Research shows that men are more attracted to women who smile.

That's no surprise to men. Ask any married man and he'll tell you that the corny old saying "Happy wife, happy life" rings true. The happier a woman is, the more beautiful she appears to men. It makes sense that men would want to make the women in their life more beautiful, for entirely selfish reasons, and so you would expect men to go out of their way to induce happiness in their female mates. That's a gross generalization, obviously, but it roughly matches my observations; most husbands seem to want their wives to be happy. The men might not be succeeding, for any variety of reasons, but they certainly want it.

The more interesting aspect of the same research is that women did NOT prefer men who smiled. In fact, younger women were more attracted to men who had a look of shame. The look that women liked the least in men was happiness.

Anyone see a problem with that?

If the science is right, we'd expect to see marriages in which men are trying to please their wives, thus making the wives more smiley and attractive, whereas women would be trying to squeeze the happiness out of the men in their lives and replace it with shame, thus making the men more attractive.

I won't go so far as to say that matches my observation, but the science points in that direction. So I put the question to you. According to your lifetime of observations, and very generally speaking, do you see a pattern in which men want to please women but women want to keep men in a frame of mind that is closer to shame than happiness?

To put this in more concrete terms, do you see a pattern in which husbands try to please wives and wives respond to their attempts with criticism? That would look like this:

Man: "I repainted the living room while you were gone, just like you wanted."

Woman: "Looks like the wrong color."

I hope the science is wrong. I'd hate to live in that world.

Rank Up Rank Down Votes:  +110
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+9 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 11, 2013
Not sure if looking at pictures of strangers is reasonably extrapolated into an allegory of marriage.
Sep 11, 2013
I suppose I should be thankful that I don't require female companionship to make it through the day. Over time I just gave up on any hope of finding a woman where each of us mutually enjoy each other's company. Either way, I do sympathize with you poor bastards that have chosen to navigate the male/female relationship battlefield on a daily basis. Self flagellation is horrible disease.
Sep 11, 2013
No, I personally don't see that pattern. But I'm particularly curious about what the pictures looked like and how they were categorized. For example, you failed to mention that women generally preferred Pride (not Shame). So were volunteers asked to look proud? Or were pictures taken from the news of people who had just done something they were proud of? Because I would fully expect someone who had just won an award to look darned happy. The main difference in my mental picture of pride vs. happiness is that the proud person is doing something with their arms or hands, like holding them up in victory.

Now how is Shame depicted? When I'm ashamed, I blush. I may also blush when meeting a guy I find particularly attractive. The main difference would be in averted eye contact and lack of a smile.

I find it interesting that it was the young women who rated the look of Shame high. I'm stereotyping here, but young men seem to be on average the most reckless, foolish group of adults there is - so maybe young women find a sense of shame reassuring in a guy? The ones young men who do things like drive drunk and laugh about it aren't so attractive.
+18 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 11, 2013
Okay, reading the full paper instead of just the abstract reveals a few interesting tidbits.

First tidbit: For women viewing pictures of males, pride was consistently the most attractive expression, but by a small margin over shame. For younger women (college undergraduates, from University of British Columbia) there was a consistent pride > shame >> happiness result (difference between shame and happiness was much larger than the difference between pride and shame.) But when the test group was expanded to include older women (28–83 years, median age 39,) the small difference between pride and shame remained, but the difference between shame and happiness disappeared: pride > shame ≈ happiness.

Second tidbit: For displays of pride they used two different poses. Arms overhead fists clenched in victory, and arms akimbo hands on hips (the classic Superman / Douglas Fairbanks pose.) For men viewing women there was a distinct difference - arms akimbo hands on hips is more attractive. Hypothesis: this pose makes your tits stick out more. (Well, they didn't use those exact words, they said, "...likely due to the fact that holding one’s arms akimbo with hands on hips increases the appearance of chest expansion."
+24 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 11, 2013
"You're playing video games again?! Those are so stupid!"
"Off to the driving range, huh? Well fine, have fun all by yourself while ignoring your family"

I'm going to be really, really blunt. This is something I learned the hard way after dating a particularly shrill and judgmental woman about 3 years ago:

If your wife is spending all of her time passive-aggressively criticizing you for doing the things you actually enjoy, you should probably trade her in for a less selfish model.

If this kind of behavior isn't confronted, it will only continue. It's a petty, nasty, vile quality. Having healthy hobbies that you enjoy, as long as it is in moderation, should NEVER be subject to such nastiness. It's ridiculous and unacceptable. Let people know this. Directly. And forcefully.

There is something SERIOUSLY WRONG with someone who cannot accept their partner's benign personal hobbies. Loving them means accepting them for who they are. That's it. If a woman shows any signs of trying to change you with nasty comments, don't walk, RUN to the nearest exit, and let them be someone else's problem.

Also, if your wife had any sense, when measured as per-hour entertainment cost, she'd realize that video games are dirt cheap (if you play a single $50 game for 50 hours, that's $1/hour of fun). Golf's a touch more expensive, but a bucket of balls is 7 bucks and 9 holes on a muni (2-3 hours) is 22. Still WAAAAAY cheaper than going out to dinner all the time ($20/hr pp)! That would be my response, anyway.
Sep 11, 2013
My research shows men are more attracted to women with large breasts... oh and can't forget good sandwiches.
Sep 11, 2013
mmm, yeah, more or less. I thought that was just a trait in women with whom I seemed to be able to forge some kind of a link. This also unfortunately can help explain why a number of women stay in situations that could be categorized as abusive. What I find a little more often is that as long as I am agreement with her opinions or she has no opinions on a subject I may bring up, our union is a comfortable one.

What I'm also finding in my particular situation is that my wife will encourage me to do certain things - that she finds appropriate. But where I do agree wholeheartedly with Scott is in the response to doing some hoped for approval activity. What I would like her to say is something to the effect - "Thanks for painting the room. It's looks okay, and I'm happy you cleaned everything up. I'm not sure I like the color, but let's live with it and maybe consider changing it sometime."

It's called diplomacy and I don't understand why more women don't employ it more often...with their close relatives...like they do with the friends.
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 11, 2013
Yep. That just about sums it up for me.
+22 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 11, 2013
From the linked abstract, with my emphasis:

"In contrast, PRIDE showed the reverse pattern; it was the MOST ATTRACTIVE MALE EXPRESSION, and one of the least attractive in women. Shame displays were relatively attractive in both genders, and, among younger adult women viewers, male shame was more attractive than male happiness, and not substantially less than male pride."

Your summary completely missed this. While women preferred men who showed shame to men who showed happiness, they preferred men who showed pride most of all.

My gut feeling is that men are more visually stimulated, and it makes sense that they prefer smiling women. I know I do. Women are more complicated, and are probably picking up other cues than forced expressions of the participants. Concluding that women have a preference for men's emotion is kinda sketchy at best. Especially if the preference is pride > shame > happiness.
+10 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 11, 2013
I have observed that anything I do that pleases me that doesn't involve my wife will be met with criticism and attempted shame.

"You're playing video games again?! Those are so stupid!"

"Off to the driving range, huh? Well fine, have fun all by yourself while ignoring your family"

So as long as I choose fun activities that involve the wife, I can screw off without the guilt.
-15 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 11, 2013
[I won't go so far as to say that matches my observation, but the science points in that direction. So I put the question to you. According to your lifetime of observations, and very generally speaking, do you see a pattern in which men want to please women but women want to keep men in a frame of mind that is closer to shame than happiness?]

No idea. Not very observant. What does YOUR observation say? And if it goes against the science does it give you an appreciation of those of us who dont beleive science is the answer to everything?
+33 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 11, 2013
My married life suddenly makes sense.
Sep 11, 2013
Wouldn't a woman that prefers man that make her laugh (and thus smile) like that man because he is increasing her own happiness? I believe that agrees with Scott's argument.
Sep 11, 2013
It would seem to be consistent with evolutionary theory in that women would want to avoid men who are too easily contented. A caveman who is never satisfied is more likely to produce abundance and ensure the health and fertility of his mate. A complacent cavemen may settle for subsistence and may not be willing to put in the effort to fight off rival males.

However, I am not sure how you square that with recent findings that women prefer men who make them laugh.
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