BECOME THE MAN WOMEN WANT
5th of September 2014

Dr. Kristina Durante Interview (Part 1)

Introduction:

This interview with Dr. Kristina Durante is your chance to listen to a beautiful, intelligent woman’s honest insights into what you can learn not only from her research, but also from her own personal experiences.

After listening to this podcast you’ll understand why women like bad boys, which qualities of your own you should highlight to compete with these guys, and why women spend so much time and money buying shoes.

Podcast:


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Video:

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Key takeaways:

  • Women tend to dress more provocatively and show more skin when they’re ovulating because this is the time where they have the highest chance of conceiving, and so women feel that they need to look good to catch a good mate.
  • This is partly to be more attractive to men, but also to out-compete other women.
  • Female-female competition is just as intense as male-male competition, but it’s much less overt, e.g. gossiping, slut-shaming, etc. Figuring out what other women are going to be wearing to a party helps you to compete at the same level, which is why girls do it all the time.
  • Another way that women compete with each other is through consumption, like buying nice expensive handbags, shoes, jewellery. Men don’t care about these, but it confers status on the woman.
  • Women are competing for the BEST guys, not just any guys. They’re looking for Good Genes, Good Partner, Good Dad.
  • A lot of women hook up in order to meet guys for the longer-term, even if they don’t consciously realize it at the time.
  • Hooking up when you’re young is also a way to figure out your own mate value.
  • Women are more attracted to bad boys when they’re close to ovulation for the same reasons that they dress provocatively at this time – it’s when they’re most fertile and so will be most receptive to guys with good, attractive genes.
  • It’s also a common female fantasy to be the woman who can turn around a bad boy. Women also have a tendency to deceive themselves during ovulation into thinking that the bad boy will be a better dad and a better partner than he actually will be.
  • It’s worth noting that these shifts in preferences are small, marginal changes in certain time periods – they are not definitive and do not apply universally.
  • Younger guys and girls tend to focus too much on the Good Genes aspect of attractiveness. After high school and college, Good Dad is still important for short-term mating, but the Good Dad and Good Partner aspects carry much more weight than before, particularly for medium- and long-term dating.
  • Girls might be obsessed with Justin Bieber or Harry Styles types at age 13. But over time they realize that those guys are unattainable for 99.99% of women and so they adjust their mating strategy to take more account of the guys available to them in their mating market. Again, this isn’t usually a conscious thing.
  • If you can’t find the right person for you, you’re not looking for them in the right way.

Links from this episode:

Dr Kristina Durante’s Bio:

Further reading on Dr. Kristina Durante:

Podcast Audio Transcription:

Tucker:
So, are you one of the marketing professors like, are you studying sort of marketing conceptual level more?

Kristina
Right. So all of my research, I wouldn’t say all, but most of it pulls from an evolutionary perspective. Whether you know, I’m studying what women want to buy or you know, some of my work especially my earlier work that looks at mate preferences. But even though I’m still on the sort of measure level looking at what really drives our desire to buy one product over the other. One brand, brand attitudes, what drives purchasing behavior. So looking at the underlying motives. And with an evolutionary perspective a lot of times it comes back to mating. Mating goals.

Tucker:
Most of it does.

Kristina
So I guess you could look at the body of working and it will seem like that’s kind of the perspective. For me, when I think about it–

Tucker:
Geoff talked about that too.

Kristina
Right. Yeah. So I guess I’m kind of a hybrid of Geoffrey and I guess sort of at the practical marketing implications level.

Tucker:
All right.

Kristina
You know, how can we use this information about our true underlying motives that many times we are not aware of, how can we translate that into capturing sales. So, I’m trying to do my best to straddle, both.

Tucker:
Do you do a lot of marketing consulting for companies and stuff, or not?

Kristina
Yeah, I do. And marketing real companies. Marketers and real companies are starting to become interested in the ovulatory research and how they could use that to capture sales, shortening purchase cycles. So for that research we are starting to do it. Because big data now is huge. So women are using all of these kinds of iPhone apps to actually track their cycles. And when they do they get little icons “you are fertile now, you should be feeling this”.

Tucker:
Yeah there is the pregnancy tracker.

Kristina
Yeah, yeah. So couples who’ve tried to conceive might know about this. She’ll download this, and she’ll record her, basal body temperature and a whole host of things. And, companies can partner with these companies that are putting these apps together and actually use ads, coupons that are placed strategically.

Tucker:
That’s o smart. Yeah.

Kristina
Based on the woman’s own data, I mean that’s like, it’s so, it’s very–

Tucker:
That’s an amazing segue. So let’s start talking about your hormonal research.

Kristina
Okay.

Tucker:
So you’ve done some of the, I think some of the most interesting research in the, I think hormonal and ovulatory cycle in those fields, so why don’t you talk for a second like, what’s some of the general thrust or your hormonal ovulatory research? What have you found?

Kristina
So, when I originally started looking at fertility effects on women’s behavior, the first study I ever did was looking at; would women prefer different clothes, different fashion when they are near, ovulation?

Tucker:
So at different times of the month.

Kristina
Yeah, different times of the month. And the reason is well, when women are ovulating this is when any decision they make regarding mating is very, very critical. Because this is the only time mating behavior can result in a pregnancy. So if they are looking to, most of the literature at that point has looked at women’s mating preferences and how they shifted ovulation because they should be motivated to attract the best partner that is available to them at that point in time. To do that, they got to look good. So therefore their clothing preferences should shift. And so, and that’s when we found, in one study we had, we just gave women a paper doll and we had them sketch an outfit that was like very fashion runway, you know, “can you draw the outfit that you would like to wear to a party tonight?”

Tucker:
Right.

Kristina
And so they sketched this outline of a woman and we did that twice, once when they were near the ovulation mating goals really salient. Those decisions are very critical and then another point in time when, estrogen that really drives the, that’s the ovarian hormone within women. Their sex hormone, that’s what shifting the —

Tucker:
Of course. What testosterone is to men, estrogen is to women.

Kristina
Exactly. So we did that at a time when estrogen was high near ovulation and again when it was relatively low. And then what we saw was when they were near ovulation drawing these sexy outfits so like short skirt, tank top, and you know, they were not only sexier, but they were rated as more revealing, and actually there was more skin showing, on square millimeters if you actually went in an measured. And we took pictures of the women and they were choosing outfits that were sexier to wear. And other colleagues of mine have found similar effects. So then it became, what’s going on, why are they doing this? Because you look at sexy outfit and you think to yourself that is a sexy tube top short skirt outfit that is clearly meant to impress a guy, to attract a guy.

Tucker:
Right.

Kristina
But again when I’m thinking about myself and thinking about women, and we don’t think really. The first thing we think is, if I’m going to a party, what are all the other women going to be wearing that are out at that party. And you know, we all know about women who, if you are a women you often times – and I still do this. “Are you going to wear jeans, or are you going to wear a dress, or are you going to wear heels?”

Tucker:
Just call each other. “What do you wearing?”.

Kristina
Kind of trying to gauge, where’s the bar going to be tonight? How attractive do I need to be to be on my game and to attract a decent guy to actually expand my mating goal and have a lot of options. Well that first hurdle, even if the end result is, I want to attract George Clooney or Ryan Gosling or whoever is going to be at that party that equivalent of, the end result could still be that guy. But the first hurdle you need to jump over is to be competitive with other women in terms of your attractiveness.

Tucker:
Let’s actually talk about, because female competitiveness is something that’s like, we’ve talked to a bunch of people in this, very under studied but I think very important. You’ve actually been one of the people done some of the best and primary research so far in this field. So talk a little bit about; how what is female-female competition, how does it play out, and what does it mean to guys?

Kristina
Yeah, okay so female-female competition is not like the competition you see between two men. Which is very overt, and they use verbal joking back and forth, sometimes you see physical fighting. Women don’t do that. So that’s why I think a lot of the research has on competition like, “oh men compete and you know they negotiate like this and they get into fist fights like that”. Because women, outside of reality TV, really don’t do that.

Tucker:
Right.

Kristina
Their competition tactics I think, actually are stronger than men. We see it more often in women, but it’s not as obvious.

Tucker:
It’s not as overt.,

Kristina
It’s not as obvert. So you know, women are doing a lot of indirect competition with each other.

Tucker:
Like what?

Kristina
So there’s some early work showing that -you know, well you know they are actually theorizing. Women do gossip and interrogate each other, that’s one way they can compete with each other. Rumor, spreading rumors.

Tucker:
Slut shaming is mainly female.

Kristina
Yeah. Slut shaming is female. That’s female-female competition. Some competition can be so subtle that its women being nice to each other sort of perhaps be mean and the underlying–

Tucker:
It’s like the southern girl thing. Oh bless her heart!.

Kristina
“Oh bless you.”

Tucker:
“Did you see her beautiful, great dress, bless her heart!”.

Kristina
Like, “oh like look at you, you look great and maybe saying, oh no, she’s not great”. When you are thinking like, “I’m not” you know, will they really be as honest.

Tucker:
You are happy because you are not competing with them.

Kristina
Right, right. Or trying to share tips for things where you know – one thing that we find is, women are using word of mouth. And it looks a lot more than guys, they want to talk to other women, they want to share tips, they want to share information and we think that’s a form of, sort of relational aggression. Even though on the outside it doesn’t look like that at all. Looks like we have to be friends and cooperate and sit around and sing songs.

Tucker:
Right.

Kristina
But it might be that they want to manipulate as many social relationships that are competitive – their social lives as we can and one way to do that could be through sharing informational and figuring out where are you going for your bikini wax, where are you going to buy your make up, because we’ve got to stay on our game. And again it’s going to be competition like fighting you know, there are ways that we can do it, where to you the male, when you are visualizing this, it doesn’t look like competition on the surface because men do not like women who are aggressive and competitive and dominant.

Tucker:
What is – so female-female competition plays out, like in terms of figuring out what other women are wearing, like talking, either shaming them in some way, like talking bad about, like you can say to me about some other girl “oh, did you see her dress” or you know, whatever, something like say to another women, putting that women down in some way like talking about her sexual status, like slut shaming that’s mainly on women, what are some other ways that female-female, dress, social sort of shaming, are there any other major ways ?

Kristina
So, one of the ways that women compete with each other is through what we found is and on the surface of it, it doesn’t have anything to do with mating. But they want better products and better houses and better jewelry than what other women are having.

Tucker:
Consumer indicators of sort of status and–

Kristina
Yeah, of status. And so when you think about what does status really buy women–

Tucker:
Purses and stuff like that.

Kristina
Yeah purses. Like a man doesn’t say “wow, that’s an amazing Louis Vuitton” or whatever [00:10:48] hand bag.

Tucker:
I never said that, ever.

Kristina
I’m really attracted to that girl. I mean–

Tucker:
She’s got a great bag, the only dudes that ever say that are gay, the only ones.

Kristina
Yeah, I know. So when, and I’ve actually done this in classes. Where I bring in a JC Penny shoe and I bring in a Louis Vuitton shoe which is you know, sells for $1500. And I say, you know, what are the differences between these two shoes, to the men. And so they are like “one has you know, I think there was red on that shoe or, there’s the inside”. They really are hard pressed to come up with a difference. Looking, examining close ups. Whereas the women are like you know, bouncing in their seats going “it’s so obvious, that one is the cheap and that one is the this”. So if men don’t care about handbags and high heel shoes

Tucker:
Why do women care?

Kristina
Why do women care?

Tucker:
That’s the question.

Kristina
That is the question. What does the status that comes along with these designer handbags really buy women? I mean the answer is really don’t know for sure, but it must have something to do with competing with other women, because it’s not a signal that men are picking up on.

Tucker:
Right. Okay. Now this is what ties into guys though. I think is so why do women compete with other women? You are totally right. Men dress for women and women dress for women. No one dresses for men. No one gives a shit about what men thinks about, except gay guys dress for each other but we are talking about like, normal heterosexual relations, no one dresses for men, right?

Kristina
Right.

Tucker:
So then why, right, why is the question.

Kristina
Why, so it’s fairly obvious why women can beat each other on attractiveness. So you know, we want to look as young as we possibly can, we want to look as beautiful as we possibly can.

Tucker:
Hold on, you say it’s fairly obvious? It’s not so obvious to some people.

Kristina
It’s not? Okay.

Tucker:
To some people.

Kristina
Right.

Tucker:
Why is that important?

Kristina
Why is that important.

Tucker:
Look, here’s the thing, as a guy I’m telling you, a lot of guys, even me>It never occurred to me that when I was out, that women were competing with each other for my attention.

Kristina
Oh?

Tucker: You know what I’m saying, and I say that even sort of once I became really good with women and a little bit whatever noteworthy or known, and then like you kind of see a famous person out you know, like you can actually see female-female competition that’s the only time you really ever see it. It’s like women jockeying for George Clooney’s attention at that party right.

Kristina
Yeah.

Tucker:
Then you are like “oh right, okay”. That’s the only time it’s ever naked, in the open. It’s funny, I’ll tell guys like you have to, “it’s your job, women’s job is to choose, your job is to sort of seek to be chosen” etc. And what a lot of guys would say to me is, they would say something like well, “I don’t understand, women think they have to compete for guys too.” Women have to compete for the top 10% or the top 20% not for all. Like if a woman’s willing to lower her standards, she can get laid every single day.

Kristina
Right. Right.

Tucker:
By a different dude. If not multiple times a day.

Kristina
Right. Right.

Tucker:
So I think that’s sort of the key is understanding the female mindset as opposed to the male mindset.

Kristina
Yeah. So that, you raise a very good point so if it were the case, that we as humans were a species where literally, you know like bower birds, where the male shows up for a few seconds, and then they are gone. Then we might not see females competing as much with each other. But because in humans–

Tucker:
Like pea hens are really [00:14:29].

Kristina
Yeah, exactly. Because, you know, we always think about the woman as investing more in the reproduction of children and they obviously–

Tucker:
Physically.

Kristina
Physically. Biologically do. And so that’s why we think you know they do though choosing and that is very, very true. But, to the extent that you can find a guy who’s attractive.

Tucker:
Who has good genes.

Kristina
Who has good genes. That’s the good genes part of it, has resources. So he has you know, something in the bank.

Tucker:
So he’ll be a good partner to you.

Kristina
Yeah. Something the bank, and on top of those two things, is willing to invest those resources into yourself–

Tucker:
To be a good parent.

Kristina
And be a good parent and a lot of guys don’t want to do that. But what you want to do as a woman is position yourself to be able to attract the best man you possible can where you are not trading off a whole lot among those three things.

Tucker:
Right.

Kristina
So it’s not just find a guy to have sex with. But find a guy who is willing-

Tucker:
That’s easy. Finding a guy to fuck is easy for them.

Kristina
Yeah I actually think women short term mates to turn into long term. So I think many women, so if I look back to–

Tucker:
Even if they are fooling themselves.

Kristina
So it’s like, “oh I’m breezy whatever, comes you know”, a lot of times guys are not aware of sort of the underlying motives behind what we are doing. So if you look back, so now that I’m older, I can look back over my course of my dating history in my 20s. I think I, had my share of short term. Sort of casual relationships. But I think I was, sort of testing, to see is this somebody that can turn into is kind of, you know going through.

Tucker:
You are testing your value and then also seeing

Kristina
Right. Getting that feedback.

Tucker:
I can hook up with the hottest guy in a bar but is he going to date me?

Kristina
Right and it’s really hard, so you know, I’m an open woman so you’ll have to reel me in and try, because I end up talking only from a women’s perspective.

Tucker:
No please, you absolutely should. Our listeners I want to hear a woman’s perspective because they don’t understand it, so please.

Kristina
Okay. So many women, especially women who you know, in high school, you know, maybe you are awkward and maybe you kind of grow into yourself, and you go to college and you realize, “wow, I can walk into a bar and I can attract a guy who looks like Ryan Gosling or you know, George Clooney”

Tucker:
You can get the hottest guy in the bar.

Kristina
Yeah you can absolutely get that guy, yes. But can you keep that guy, and it’s intoxicating to walk into a bar and have those guys pay attention to you and once you start kind of going down that trajectory, I think there’s a lot of girls who in their twenties are kind of going through that. Well if I can get that guy, you always want to shoot for the stars. You know, kind of swing for the fences. And as the result of swinging for the fences you kind of – you over shoot a lot, doesn’t work out, and then you know, with hope, you learn and sort of adjust. And sort of fall down to what level do I need to trade off to secure the best partner available to me who wants the best in me.

Tucker:
Meaning he has good genes is a good partner and would be a good dad; all three.

Kristina
That’s the ideal. Not most women, including myself can’t get the perfect, optimized man. .

Tucker:
Is there such a thing as a perfect optimized dude?

Kristina
I don’t know, I mean, that’s a good question.

Tucker:
I love my girlfriend, I think she’s amazing. She’s one of the best ones I’ve ever met, she’s not perfect. I don’t think I ever met the perfect woman. And if the perfect woman doesn’t exist, I’ll be shocked to see the perfect man exist.

Kristina
Well I mean we are human so nobody’s going to be absolute perfect unless they are robot.

Tucker:
Then you are not a human right?

Kristina
Right. So, what I mean and I guess there are men that are probably more attractive than my husband, there are men that probably do the dishes more than my husband, there are men that are wealthier than my husband.

Tucker:
Right.

Kristina
But for me you know, sort of on the surface of it, what I feel, sort of at the approximate level is that “I am very happy”. And I think it’s because, I spent all that time overshooting and then have to kind of adjust to where can I exist and attract the best partner available who’s maybe not George Clooney, but he is pretty darn good. And so it’s kind of going through the motions of that you know, every girl has to go through and some girls go through it in high school.

Tucker:
Figuring out your mate value, essentially.

Kristina
Yeah. Figuring out your mate value. And if some in high school you are a the cheerleader, it’s interesting because one of the papers I had, really started with that sort of logic. So when you are a young person, and you had puberty, hormones are raging that across human history, has been the time you have to figure out how am I doing, how does the mating market look for me? Does it look good, does it look bad you know, and sort of get a sense of what strategy you are going to shoot yourself down on, in terms of like mating strategy, what paths. And you know, if you do really well in high school or when you hit puberty, I guess that’s like junior high school, and you get a lot of attention from men, what is probably the best path for you is to, I got to strike while the iron’s hot, the iron’s hot right now, I’m getting all the good attention. I am going to be with like the quarterbacks–
Tucker:
You mean like 16 year olds?

Kristina
Yeah.

Tucker:
Oh you mean like in terms of getting sexual dating experience.

Kristina
Yeah, yeah. So this is,

Tucker:
I was – you think 16 year olds should get married? I was like hold on.

Kristina
Oh no, no, no.

Tucker:
You mean finding out your mate value.

Kristina
Finding out your mate value.

Tucker:
Getting experience in the partners, okay.

Kristina
And remember, turning the clock back over the course of human history, you know, where we didn’t even have you know marriage–

Tucker:
Then you arranged couplings or whatever.

Kristina
Yeah. Probably arranged couplings, 16 year old is you know, prime.

Tucker:
That’s breeding material.

Kristina
Yeah, because this is – I can secure her and monopolize her fertility. You know, if you are like some, very wealthy men. So at 16 you know kind of is this mating market good for me or bad for me. And what it can do is, shift women’s psychology in different ways, perhaps. So you know I think that going back to what the original purpose of me talking about this, I think some women go through that process earlier, and some of them go through that process later.

Tucker:
Of figuring out their mate value.

Kristina
Yeah. Of figuring out their mate value. Because if you are not hitting the jackpot in high school, I think you figure out what plan B might be, for many women that’s “I’m going to go to college, and I’m going to study, I’m going to find a job” you know, and they eventually meet someone and maybe grow into themselves or you know, there are some women who mature earlier than the others, and their mate value really optimizes at different times. So, that’s you know, kind of where I was going with that.

Tucker:
It’s funny we were talking about this earlier, sort of off camera. I watched your TED Talks and I thought it was really good. And you talk a lot in there, about sort of into–, this kind of ties into what your TED Talk, about why women like bad guys, and tell me the story, tell listeners the story about the e-mail you got after that talk.

Kristina
Yeah. Okay. So in that talk, the folks at TEDx were really interested in the research that I did looking at why women love bad boys. Which for simplicity reasons, I just say bad boy or good dad, sexy cad or bad boy. Even though–

Tucker:
That means a guy who has great genes essentially meaning like high social status, very attractive etc. but very low, either low resources and or low parental investment. So like me at 26.

Kristina
Exactly, exactly. So you at 26. So yeah. These guys are you know, not only good looking usually. But they are really charismatic, and very socially dominant. You know, all of these qualities that we find as a woman very, very attractive.

Tucker:
Sort of the iconic image of the player something like that.

Kristina
Interesting, yeah they’re interesting. They’re doing things that are interesting. They’re downhill skiing and riding a motorcycle and playing poker.

Tucker:
Bode Miller !

Kristina
Yes, Bode Miller! In fact, when I first ran, the first version of the study I gave women dating profiles and I wrote the first profile after Bode Miller. I had a little like bad boy crush. He was the bad boy that I liked, at the time. So it was this guy who skis double blacks all the time, maybe he heli skis or whatever that is, you know all these risky things that we find so attractive. And really wanting to get at, why is it? Do they go through sort of a deception process because I was always attracted to these kinds of guys and when I was in the relationship I was very hopeful. And I thought maybe I was too hopeful and is there any sort of biology behind that.

Tucker:
So once you grew into it like sort of your looks and you’re like because you say in kind of high school you were a little bit ugly ‘duckinglish’?

Kristina
Yeah my mating market was horrible.

Tucker:
Because you’re really attractive now so clearly at some point like…

Kristina
Yeah so for me high school was just out of the picture for me in terms of the mating market.

Tucker:
So the high school quarterback – that dude paid no attention to you in high school?

Kristina
Zip! Zero! So I thought, in my head it was well I’m just going to study then for all of these other reasons because I’m going to go to college. And maybe it was because I would go to college to meet guys and maybe that would help me in the mating market. But what I was cognitively aware of was just I felt more ambitious. And I wanted to, if that wasn’t an option for me I was just going to be at the library studying because I’ll show you I’m just going to go to the best college I possibly can and get a great job and screw that.

Tucker:
So then, but you said you were always attracted to sort of like; was it assholes or bad boys or how would you phrase because they’re not necessarily the same thing.

Kristina
No they’re not.

Tucker:
You see Bode Miller who’s not an asshole…

Kristina
No, he’s not an asshole.

Tucker:
He’s just rebellious and risk taker and very sexy and very hard to get. Not unattainable but hard to get.

Kristina
Right. Yes. Yeah not unattainable but hard to get and so when I graduated high school and went to college and I grew like an inch and a half or two inches and really at that point I was a late bloomer, so at that point I realized what we were talking about before is that I can walk in a bar and I can get Bode Miller.

Tucker:
You can at very least get him to fuck you.

Kristina
Exactly. But then, so then that would happen and then maybe or maybe not it would develop into something. But in the process of being in that grey area was; if that was just a casual thing or could it develop? I had great hopes for it always. So even if my sisters or my friends were saying, ‘You know he’s not reliable’.

Tucker:
He’s sleeping with twenty other women

Kristina
Yeah you know and they can see right through him and I was like, ‘Yeah I know but he just sent me this email that said this” and then he said you know whatever he said like I had such a great time and of course I want to read as much into that as I possibly could and dream of visions of us together.

Tucker:
Because that’s the fantasy right. It’s to turn the sort of risk taking, bad boy that is super high status that no woman can get to date. You’re the one that he wants to date.

Kristina
Right. Yeah I am the one.

Tucker:
It’s called fifty shades of grey and every romance novel ever written that’s the plot, right there.

Kristina
That’s the plot, right. Yeah so I thought, ‘oh wow I think he could be into me’, and what I think now in that whole research line is I think the reasoning behind that sort of self-deception is to be that extra push that women need to be sexually receptive to guys who normally don’t on the surface look like good long term partners. But these tend to be the guys that have that higher genetic fitness. So the part of the talk, the Ted Talk they wanted me to focus on was you know, we want to hear, you know you can talk about the consumer research little bit but let’s talk about the bad boys. Because we as women want to know about it and I think men probably want to know about it too.

Tucker:
Of course.

Kristina
And so I talked about the research and I tried to make it as clear as possible that we see that women are a little bit more sexually interested in these kinds of guys when they’re near ovulation. But we don’t really see shifts and preference for the guy who’s very reliable and you can always depend on him. And I was specifically talking about why I looked at it across ovulation because if we know that women have a natural preference for these kind of bad boy guys at ovulation that’s when we can see if there’s any sort of self-deception going on. And we found that there was so when I put in questions like; “Imagine that you Ann” and they were looking at a Bode Miller type of a guy had a child together, “what’s the likelihood that he would not only be committed to you and you would have a long term relationship together but that he would help you care for the child. So what is he going to put in and what are you going to put in terms of changing diapers, running errands, household chores.” What we found was that near ovulation women had higher estimates for how much these guys were going to put in.

Tucker:
They’re fooling themselves.

Kristina
They were and then in Bode Miller study like I had another guy who was the foil for Bode Miller and he was an average attractiveness accountant.

Tucker:
Right so super boring? But super reliable.

Kristina
Super boring but super reliable. And it was very explicit but he made a decent income so he could take care of you. And at ovulation in that particular study we found that they thought that Bode Miller would be doing more dishes than the accountant. So it was that much of a self-deception.

Tucker:
[Laughs] But not the rest of the month.

Kristina
Right but not the rest of the month. So that’s what’s so powerful about this methodology because each woman serving as their own control so this is the same person thinking kind of having a reality check, probably not so great and then estrogen surges and the brain indexes this and it say “uh oh mating decisions are critical.” So we will give you this self-deception if it means you’ll be receptive to Bode Miller, to have sex with the guy who’s probably going to leave tomorrow. I mean that’s being kind of cross about it but that’s kind of what was going on. But unfortunately for some men the Ted Talk was misconstrued because they thought they interrupted it as well, they sort of reflecting on themselves. I’m not a bad boy. I have a hard time talking to women. I’m not charismatic so I can’t lean across the table; look them in the eye and say, “tell me about yourself and what do you like to do?” And you know be funny and self-effacing which these guys are. They’re just charming. So I can’t do that so therefore I’m doomed. Women don’t like me and they probably were even getting some of that feedback before they even saw me.

Tucker:
Of course. Well they already knew who they were. They had this image in their head of who they were.

Kristina
Right. So I got some emails of people, of men saying it’s because of your research that I think my life is – should be over.

Tucker:
So the only Ted Talk of all time, instead of inspiring someone you made dudes suicidal.

Kristina
I mean yes, I was yes. But I mean that to me–

Tucker:
But hold on, so obviously they’re mistaking.

Kristina
They’re mistaking it. They’re getting it wrong

Tucker:
Give this guy or any guy and who thinks this is how women are because I tell you, you may know this; there’s a huge not a huge. There’s a very vocal minor subset of guys who think that they know this research and their interpretation of this research is, “oh this means women are awful manipulative whores and I don’t have any of this traits so like I’m a total loser. The whole system is broken.” So basically they go from women have slightly different marginal mating preferences at ovulation all the way to the entire world is broken and corrupt and everything’s a disaster and I’m going to kill myself.

Kristina
Right!

Tucker:
For real! You know this directly but there’s definitely a small subset of guys like that so explain why that interpretation is just totally off base.

Kristina
Right. So here’s I’m going to describe one of the experiments was like because I think it’ll really shed some light on this. So in one experiment we actually had hired actors and we wrote script ups. One of the scripts was to be as charismatic as possible. We told this guy, this actor that you’re going to read this script. It was a dating introduction so he was supposed to introduce himself and what it would be like to date him. And for one of the scripts it was that charismatic guy. So this was like George Clooney was told to act like how he would envision George Clooney acting in a bar, looking directly into the eye, directly into the camera being kind of funny, being dominant. And then the other script was somebody who was clearly looking for a long term relationship but not as confident. So he kind of looked away from the camera and he was having trouble finding his words. “So what I’m looking for is, I mean I want to get married one day. I want to have kids. I want to have someone I can share my life with.” So those were the two guys that we had but the catch was that we had one actor read both of those.

Tucker:
Same actor.

Kristina
Same actor and when we actually ran the study we told women that they were going to be participating in a study on twin communication styles. So the study was run–

Tucker:
So you told them they were twins? That was awesome, so good.

Kristina
Yeah we told them they were twins and each one of them believed it and one other reason why they made it easy for them–

Tucker:
Why wouldn’t they believe you, you’re a doctor!

Kristina
I’m a doctor. I wear a lab coat. So this study was run at the University of Minnesota which does a lot of twin research. The Minnesota twin studies so it was believable that this would be a study at the University of Minnesota in the psychology department. And so they showed and they were told that this is a study on twin communication styles. These men they’re going to introduce themselves to you as potential dating partners. They’re going to talk to you about why you should date them basically. And we had them watch the videos and then after they watched these introductions. And it was kind of like this Skype situation. So they saw and they thought that the man is actually sitting in the other room live. And they were communicating with them over Skype but it was actually controlled from the control room. So the guy was like talking to them and so after they saw these videos they then rated the guy for how committed would he be to you. How good of a partner would he be and how likely would he be to help you care for the child should you have it? I mean we asked them everything. And so this is the same guy so the only thing that’s changing here is the confidence he has. Like, “I can talk to this girl I’m very suave” or ”gosh I can’t find my words but geez do I want a relationship!” And the women, so it’s the same guy and he wasn’t relatively – he wasn’t super good looking but he was a little bit above average, attractive. And what we found was, although we found no shifts across the cycle for the guy who was sort of what we called the good dad. The woman’s ratings of that guy were higher than the guy who was the charismatic guy and all of those long term qualities. So he’s going to be committed to me. I picture myself I would be very happy. That guy would be reliable. He would, I mean they didn’t rate that their life would be exciting and they would be jet setting to all these ports of calls. But they rated that this guy is good long term marriage material. For the bad boy guy. I mean they found him sexually attractive, a little bit more sexually attractive and we found that there was shift in that self-deception I was talking about. But even though we found that the bar jumped up a little bit in terms of, yeah maybe he’ll be…

Tucker:
During ovulation?

Kristina
Yeah. It was never as high as that other guy. It was never as high as that good dad. So we found a shift for the bad boy if that makes any sense. So we found that they had little bump so maybe if they say well; what’s the likelihood of this guy will do the dishes on a scale of 1 to 7. They might have said yeah there’s a likelihood of 3 that Bode Miller’s going to do my dishes. And their ovulation might pump up to a 4.5 but it doesn’t seem like a lot but within the same woman there’s a lot of statistical power there and we can detect that shift whereas there was no shift for that good dad guy. They just always knew. He’ll be there he’ll do it.

Tucker:
So he was the 7 the whole time and Bode went from 3-5.

Kristina
Right and so what we think is that across human history there was that little bump that little push but when it comes to women going through that sort of learning process and kind of adjusting. And we all do, we all going to sort of swing for the fences at first for a mate and then kind of learn about well I really just want to find the guy who’s the best partner I can attract, who I’m going to get along with and all of those things that make for an enduring relationship. And they’re going to learn that and the women in our study they thought that that guy was long term material and they were attracted to him as a long term partner.

Tucker:
So it’s what we tell guys all the time. Young guys don’t get this but guys who get a little older get this. Because here’s what I think, tell me what you think about this; young guys in high school you only see the Bode Miller quarterback in the football team. Those guys get all the girls and they’re all super popular and so status is only measured essentially on popularity right. So mating status tracks directly to social status! And then at college it kind of works like that but not really. And so by the time, basically tracks are close but not totally. So by the time they’re 22, their entire life they’ve spent, they’ve seen mating status track directly to social status. So they don’t understand that as women get older and start to think about what comes after sex then… Women have overrated of the three categories you talk about. Essentially good genes, how attractive you are how good you are socially. Women have super highly rated that for up until about 22. After 22, broadly speaking, after 22 all of a suddenly that comes way down at least as compared to how good of a partner is he and how like meaning is he good to date? Is he good as a husband? Whatever and how good of a father is he going to be, those other things even if doesn’t come down that much. Those other two things come way up in importance and then women start to understand okay, like you can’t have all three perfects. There’s no one on earth who’s all three perfect right? So you can easily get one high of any of the three right and you want to try and get at least two high on one okay but if you can get all three high that’s great right. And what we try to explain to guys is that yes, if you want to focus exclusively on short term meeting you do need to optimize sort of good gene expressions right. But if you care more about medium to long term meeting, that stuff as long as it’s okay it’s fine because if you show good partner and good dad traits you’re actually going to do better in medium to long term dating. And all your research is in line with that?

Kristina
Yeah so I mean women go through that process of learning and shooting for the stars I want those three and then coming down and adjusting and certainly everybody has to make trade-offs and when you’re thinking about and the reason we find that shift in ovulation and it might have something to do with across the life span so when women are highly fertile in their lives they’re maybe more attracted to these bad boys. It’s also the time when they’re learning about what it means to go after these men and make a trade off because you can make a trade off. I want to be attentive to attractiveness you’re going to lose out on a lot of other stuff as women get older. I’m not talking about 45 years old women I’m talking about you really quickly adjust because your body is sending you all those cues of we need to lock things down now in terms of the importance…

Tucker:
She wants to have kids which is most important for women.

Kristina
Yeah the importance so good genes yeah and it’s kind of like shoot for the stars as within the range of who you can attract that also kind of topped out on a lot of these other good partner skills. Because any guy who thinks, “Oh I’m not George Clooney but I want a long term relationship.” Those are the guys who are going to net out better because the strategy that works for these guys is just to be that long term mater. And they can optimize their reproductive success that way because women want and need probably need more or so but they need a long term partner who’s going to invest in them. I mean we all want that. I shouldn’t say we all but if we think of it that’s about…

Tucker:
Basically! The vast majority

Kristina
Many women want that. Right and I think what men can think about they’ll be like oh I know a girl and she’s only attracted to these guys and some women it takes longer to sort of learn and adjust. I have a sister who’s kind of like that and I have another sister who’s the complete opposite. She got married at nineteen. So I mean these mating strategies that we go through are different and at one point and time in our life one mating strategy might be working really well for us and then another point and time it could be something else.

Tucker:
Talk a little bit about that even if you’re just talking about personal experience or bringing in any sort of research you’ve done or know about and all of that. How does women mating preferences shift over? Let’s say they start at sixteenish through like 36 or whatever 37. How do they go?

Kristina
So I guess I can’t really say, well statistically we know this is what women do at sixteen but at sixteen like I said before I mean that’s really kind of figuring out what feedback I’m getting from–

Tucker:
That’s when you’re starting to figure it out?

Kristina
You’re starting to figure it out. Yeah. And I also think that this is the time where we see a self-deception a lot more shooting for the stars shooting for fences in terms of. Think of thirteen year olds, everybody likes Harry Styles, everybody loves the alpha–

Tucker:
Justin Beiber?

Kristina
Whoever it is. Yeah.

Tucker:
Every girl’s obsessed with Beiber that’s that age.

Kristina
Right. If you turn the clock back a thousand years of what we didn’t have, we didn’t have TV, we didn’t have media, we didn’t have what this Justin Beiber is and Harry Styles are replacing he’s sort of that guy that’s how it is, like the big alpha, young buck or whatever. And you see every thirteen year old going for that guy. Well if every thirteen year old goes for that guy or every sixteen year old or whatever there’s going to be the one that wins or maybe like a handful that gets to be intimate with him and everybody else loses out. And then you’re quickly kind of hit in the wall oh ok that path doesn’t work, you know adjust again and I think that’s why when you see these rush of girls that are I mean throughout the history. I mean in the fifties there was Elvis.

Tucker:
Beatles and all that.

Kristina
And even when you’re in high school it’s like “oh the dream boat, captain of the football team.” And everybody dreams of that person until you sort of realize that the strategy isn’t working and you don’t have to lay in your bed and say”geez I need a different mating strategy or something.” It’s just that you might start finding somebody else–

Tucker:
People respond to incentives, right.

Kristina
Right and you might start finding someone else a little bit more attractive or you might find somebody that comes up to you in the library and you hadn’t thought about him in a certain way before but then you start feeling good when they pay attention.

Tucker:
You respond. He pays attention. I want someone. He’s here. You know it’s right exactly. You figure out how it works in that environment.

Kristina
Exactly! So I think that, so that’s the you know out of the gate we all love Justin Beiber but then the only a few people, Selena Gomes, can get him. And then we all fall back and then we maybe go for people in our regular environment and there are going to be a few that stand out and then some girls will get those few and then the rest will fall back again and readjust their strategy. And like “I said it’s not necessarily conscious it just maybe a feeling of, I never noticed him” but”gosh he was really nice to me and care about my looks.”

Tucker:
That’s the plot of every romantic comedy. The nerdy guy becomes the hero.

Kristina
And then in college you may still be at a point of adjusting because then you have a new wave of people who don’t know who you are and they don’t that–

Tucker:
They don’t know your low status at high school.

Kristina
No. So what you were talking about before reminded me of that campaign they did about a year ago about you know it gets better and the people they wrote to me and said “my life is over after I watched your Ted Talk”. All those people for whom that message is really important because there’s plenty of mates out there for everybody, really. Mathematically that has to be true so it’s just the matter of finding who is right for you. And if you’re not finding that person and you’re looking for that person in the wrong way. And you need to go find out what you’re doing wrong.

Tucker:
That’s such a good way to phrase it. There’s a person or people out there for you and if you’re not finding them that means you’re not looking for them in the right way.

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