As part of my research requirements for psychology, I've been spending many hours writing up a meta analysis (study of past compiled research) on the nice guy stereotype, and I thought this would be a good place to share it. I'll briefly summarize the validity of certain cultural stigmas as well as clarify what the science on the matter actually is. Keep in mind, what I am presenting is not opinion-based nor opinion-oriented, it is a citation and explanation of various research conducted under the scientific method. When you see a name and a date, ie: "(Darwin, 1871)", that is me citing a source.
"Nice guys finish last," is the expression often used to describe a woman's tendency to be attracted more to a jerk than a nice guy. From anecdotal experience, it can seem to be the case.
So, is it true? Yes, but that also depends on how you define nice guys and their competitors, whether they be described as alpha males, jerks, or aggressive men. It has indeed been shown that males who have passive admiration for females are seen as less attractive (McDaniel 1985), but it is also true that empathy and respectfulness, when isolated as variables, do tend to be seen as slightly attractive to women (Ubaniak 2003).
This is the case because it isn't an alpha male's callousness that females find attractive on a primal level, it is the man's ability to provide (Buss 1989). It is a common belief that women are biologically wired to seek out aggressive males, however, this is claim is only correlational, not causative; it explains the motivation for a certain action to be associated with the desire of a certain behavior rather than what the desired goal of the seeking might with a set of behaviors, hence the claim cannot be considered fully scientifically valid within context. In terms of means and ends, mate selection all boils down to two things: fertility and ability to survive (Darwin 1871). In humans, the latter means prior mentioned resource acquisition capabilities, ie: 'can this man provide enough to support the family?'
This goes back to the concept of the alpha male. Although the alpha male is typically thought of the male that is most aggressive, its definition is more that of functional behavior, and that function of the alpha is to be the one who can best look after the rest of the group. Keep in mind, that this is not a static characteristic in individuals, but can be more effectively implemented in different skill sets, ie: the doctor can heal the sick and the soldier can protect the group. The aggressive trait commonly associated with alphas is due to a display of primary skill sets, meaning that aggressive behavior is an active assertion of ability. Think of it like the music performer who gains all the attention while the composer gets less.
What this means for nice guys is the fact they they do not display their abilities as much makes them less interesting. It should also be noted, that in regards to confidence, people who are more physically attractive tend to develop more confidence (Campbell 1986), hence many nice guys may not be as physically attractive, further lending to their disposition in female attraction.
In terms of what qualifies a man for ability to gather resource, social hierarchies also play a huge role in people's perceptions of what indicates success. Although we naturally create hierarchies of every entity, the qualifications for status in those hierarchies is largely socially determined. A man who expresses himself as emotional and smitten over a woman may come across as looking pathetic and vulnerable, while the jerk who acts dismissively may come across as one who does not need the woman, giving the implication that he could be with other women should he desire. Something to note, however, is that, in modern society, men having more sexual partners is not a significant factor in attraction (Herold 1999).
Let's not also neglect the gender roles associated with women. Although, in western society, women, minus their gender constructs, are just as able to satisfy most occupations (however, men do have better spacial awareness and upper body strength, but women have better ability to assess the emotional state of others from a more active facial recognition system in the brain [citation needed, but I guarantee is true]). So, western society is still implementing these gender roles despite lack of potential, increased, befit from resource gathering females. If this were not the case, then certain roles might be reversed, like males seeking out the alpha female who can best provide for the family. From a utilitarian perspective, however, the male and the female in a relationship would both act as alphas in contexts which best utilize the skills of both, thus maximizing resource acquisition on both ends.
TL;DR/ in conclusion: yes, females are inherently attracted to the alpha male, but the alpha male is the one who can best provide, not the most disrespectful.
"A man who... ...should he desire." I think there is even more going on there. A man who seems smitten over a woman can make the woman feel good about herself. So good in fact, she get's the feeling she can do better than this guy, because she feel secure about herself. A guy who pays her attention, but also lets her know she's not 'all that' may make her feel that she NEEDS someone because she's not secure.
I feel it's a combination of the two: 'smitten guy' lowers himself, and raises the woman, 'dismissive guy' lowers the woman and raises himself.
The two things should be subtle though, because offending someone and pushing social boundaries is a trait that can not be related to the 'alpha male'.
Quite right, that's why books like 'the game' are full of it. Sensing the nature of someone else is a pretty strong thing I think. 'Acting' like an alpha simply doesn't cut it.
Natural inclination? Really? The notion that human females can't effectively be an alpha figure in the right context because they don't have the ingrained skill sets has no basis in scientific reality. As a matter of fact, the only significant reasons for males almost always being the alpha are the following: increased size/strength, testosterone (which leads to aggressive behavior), and social gender roles. In a modern society, a woman is perfectly capable of forgoing those aspects and emerging as an alpha.
Just did a search for the research. Didn't come up with anything to support your claim. Perhaps a link to the research you are citing might validate it.
Thank you for reminding me why I previously ceased to visit these forums.
No, the criticism is fine. I'll look over the studies you sent me and adjust accordingly.
The reason is the inevitable antagonism and personal insults that are without need, ultimately acting as a general environment of hostility rather than constructive advisement, even if that was the original intent.
Not saying that people don't need to be given an evidence-based explanation for why their claims are unfounded, but instead thats just replaced by guys berating each other, which isn't going to solve anything.
Crap. I just went back and re-read your original comment. I must have glanced over it *very* quickly because I misread the first words as "female alphas" instead of "false alphas". Well, that's your explanation why I jumped to conclusions, I'll have to be more careful next time I read through the replies.
And I'm a third year. This is for my evolutionary psychology class, so citation of those particular other fields is actually expected. Also note that its just a summary of my outline I made to share with people outside the class. The full thing we be expanded to include things like explanations of how each of the studies cited worked, and all the other stuff you have to do in a meta-analysis rather than an essay.
No, but it doesn't really change my argument.
I'm not denying that claim, but that doesn't contradict my argument, I am agreeing that the alpha, the one who can gather the most resources, is the most attractive to the females.
its a well known fact: women love *ssholes. Its because women feel they don't deserve better.
Anyone who feels the need to market himself as an alpha male is obviously insecure.