The debates and conversations over what a woman to truly admires in a man has been going on for years. And to date, a woman’s preference for a potential mate has been found to be context-dependent and influenced by multiple factors – looks and the right kind of compliments being two of those than lead the train.
Scientists from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China have published a new study called: “Women prefer men who use metaphorical language when paying compliments in a romantic context” – a study that looks into precisely this topic.
Conducted among 116 women, the study aimed to investigate three different things: 1) Which type of compliment can increase men’s attractiveness in women’s eyes, literal or metaphoric? 2) If women prefer compliments targeting their appearance or possessions? 3) If the preference for figurativeness and topic of compliment varies during the menstrual cycle?
As facial and physical features are believed to play a vital role in how a woman first perceives a man, the study required the women to rate 140 men based on facial photos, which were presented along with compliments. And this is what they found...
1) Which type of compliment can increase men’s attractiveness in women’s eyes, literal or metaphoric?
Surprisingly, more women preferred metaphorical compliments rather than literal or crass one-liners. According to the study, “The use of metaphorical as opposed to prosaic language by men in compliments is perceived by women as indicative of creativity and intelligence.”
2) If women prefer compliments targeting their appearance or possessions?
The second hypothesis by the researchers, stating that women prefer compliments targeting their appearance more than their possessions, was also supported as, “Compliments between the sexes on appearance can easily develop into “flirtation”, they tend to indicate direct sexual intent and are thus likely to provoke reciprocal compliments by recipients.”
3) If the preference for figurativeness and topic of compliment varies during the menstrual cycle?
The third hypothesis was only partially supported, with conflicting results from single women and those in relationships. High conception risk increased men’s attractiveness in the eyes of women in a relationship if appearance was praised. For the single women, on the other hand, this preference was exhibited only by those with a low conception risk, i.e. during a different period of the cycle.
Albeit being an interesting study, in terms of both execution and findings, the researchers have acknowledged that the sample size was very limited and only conducted within Chinese women, implying that these results may only be applicable to this particular cultural group of women, rather than for women all over the world.