The Sciences

Worst Science Article of The Week: Women Are Evil, and Want Your Husband

DiscoblogBy Melissa LafskyAug 20, 2009 3:45 PM

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Oh Lord. From the Telegraph, we'd expect this. But New Scientist? From a piece posted earlier this week:

Women: do you have a man? If you do, better beware. Chances are that some lone female has her eye on him. A new study provides evidence for what many have long suspected: that single women are much keener on pursuing a man who's already taken than a singleton.

The study of which they speak consisted of a survey of 184 heterosexual university students, both male and female. Half were single, and half in relationships. The entire group was told that a computer program would match them with an ideal partner.

Unbeknownst to the participants (but knownst to us), everyone was offered a "fictitious candidate partner who had been tailored to match their interests exactly." Every woman was shown the same picture of "Mr Right," and ditto for the men. Half the participants were told their ideal mate was single, and the other half that he or she was off the market. According to NS,

The most striking result was in the responses of single women. Offered a single man, 59 per cent were interested in pursuing a relationship. But when he was attached, 90 per cent said they were up for the chase.

The article goes on to quote the study authors' conclusions like:

single women may be more drawn to attached men because they've already been "pre-screened" by other women and found to be satisfactory as a mate, whereas single men are more of an unknown quantity.

What the piece neglected to note was the fact that filling out a survey form indicating you might be willing to go after a dude is a far cry from actually going after that dude. So by logic, a small sample size of women reporting more interest in an attached man shouldn't lead to a screaming rush of hide-your-men-crazy-zombie-mate-poachers-are-on-the-loose.

Plus, there's also the small matter of what those photos of Mr. Right looked like, as the study authors note:

One limitation of the present study was that it used a single male and female target photo and although our pretest indicated both photos were perceived as moderately attractive, our study showed men’s attractiveness ratings for the female photo were higher than women’s ratings for the male photo.

So maybe the lede should be something more like: "If your man is not super attractive, other women may need him to be pre-screened before they'd think about going after him." This post has been appended from its original version. Related Content: Discoblog: Can Pheromone Body Wash Make You More Desirable?

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Image: iStockphoto

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