BECOME THE MAN WOMEN WANT
22nd of August 2014

Dr. Carin Perilloux Interview

Introduction:

This is your chance to hear a smart, attractive woman talk about where you’re going wrong with women, and how you can fix it.

Dr. Carin Perilloux has a PhD in Evolutionary Psychology and has worked with some of the biggest names in the field on seminal research we’ve linked and large media has written about. She also happens to be incredibly attractive – so she speaks from a place of both academic and practical knowledge and can translate that into actionable advice. She’ll tell you how to interpret what a woman is wearing, what guys ignore that is important to women, and how to tell if a woman is attracted to you.

Podcast:


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Video:

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SPONSOR: This episode is sponsored by Bookhacker. They do the reading, so you don’t have to. Check them out on Amazon or Bookhacker.net.

If you want to sponsor the Mating Grounds Podcast, email [email protected].

Key takeaways:

  • Men seem to consistently over-estimate how attracted a woman is to them. There is an evolutionary reason for this – it’s better to err by thinking someone’s attracted to you when they’re not, which carries a small cost, as opposed to missing out when a girl actually was attracted to you, thereby missing a potential chance to reproduce.
  • Guys who over-estimate their own attractiveness are more likely to over-estimate how attracted a woman is to them. Also, the more you like the girl, the more likely you are to over-estimate how much she likes you.
  • A clear indicator that a girl is interested is physical touch. If a woman directly, intentionally touches you while you’re talking, it’s a very strong signal that she likes you.
  • Other signs: laughing at your jokes with you, maintaining eye contact, mimicking and pupil dilation.
  • If she’s playing with her hair, that’s another sign. So is leaning forward, putting her chest out a little more, all these little ‘presentation’ things where she’s trying to show off her attractive traits.
  • None of these are conclusive on their own, but when you add up all these cues you can get a pretty good idea one way or the other.
  • In fact if you really like a girl, you might over-estimate how interested she is, but by you being interested, she will actually look for reasons to be attracted to you, because you’ll behave as though you like her and so she will eventually reciprocate. Knowing that someone likes you and appreciates you is attractive.
  • Regardless of whether they are interested in short-term or long-term mating, women tend to look to the face rather than the body for cues of attractiveness due to the amount of information it conveys about physical and mental health. Women look for the same things whether they’re looking for a short-term or a long-term relationship.
  • If she takes good care of her body and has gone to the effort to show it off, that is likely to be an indicator that she is interested in short-term mating.
  • The clothes and accessories that women wear – they don’t just randomly fall on the woman from the closet. Women take time and energy deciding what to wear for specific situations, and so you can infer a lot about the woman’s intentions from the way that she is dressed. If you want to know what she’s thinking about that night, then look at what she’s wearing.
  • Having said that, you might not be able to get definitive signals one way or the other without a baseline. So if you’ve seen the woman before and she is dressed more revealingly than she usually is, that’s an indicator that she’s interested in meeting somebody. But if you’ve never seen her before, then she might just like wearing revealing clothes.
  • Context obviously matters as well – the social situation, whether she’s out in public at, say, a bar, vs. out on a date with a guy where he is the main audience for her, etc.
  • As mentioned in previous podcasts, physical safety is a primary concern for women, and guys tend to overlook this. Women need to feel safe. If you can talk to women without making them feel sexually harassed or objectified, then you’re already doing better than a lot of guys.
  • If you meet a smart girl, don’t be intimidated if you don’t have the same credentials as her. As long as you’re intellectually curious and can hold your own in conversation, you’ll be fine.

Links from this episode

Dr. Carin Perilloux’s Bio:

  • Assistant Professor of Social Psychology at Union College, NY
  • PhD from UT Austin where she worked with David Buss
  • Research interests include sexual intent perception, physical attractiveness, sexual victimization and parent-offspring conflict
  • Personal website

Further reading on Dr. Perilloux:

Podcast Audio Transcription:

Tucker:
So, I have a question. A certain person in this room told me that you applied to his grad program to be a grad student under him and that he accepted you and you turned him down.

Carin:
That is not true.

Geoff:
Did I not accept you?

Carin:
You did not accept me. Or at least not by the time I had a decision at UT.

Tucker:
He turned you down?

Carin:
Or I never, I don’t remember if he turned me down or if I just didn’t hear back by the time I got into UT.

Geoff:
I know you were on my shortlist.

Tucker:
He told me that you picked David Buss over him and he feels a little small over it.

Geoff:
I’ve been, just processing that-

Tucker:
The anger will come out!

Carin:
Nope, I had not heard back from you guys. That must have been what it was because I remember as soon as I got in at UT I was like, ‘I’m taking this’ because I already felt like I was on one of those reality shows where at the end they’re like ‘Surprise! You actually didn’t get in anywhere.’ I had the whole Impostor thing going and so as soon as I got into UT I was like ‘this is amazing, I’m taking it.’

Tucker:
Where did you go to undergrad?

Carin:
Knox College, this really tiny school in the middle of nowhere, Illinois. It had 1,200 students.

Tucker:
I’ve heard of Knox College for something. What have I heard about that for?

Carin:
Really? It’s one of these nice, liberal art schools.

Tucker:
What’s the famous thing that everyone is like ‘Oh, Knox College’?

Carin:
They have the best graduation speakers. Stephen Colbert, Obama, Clinton I think. As soon as I left, of course, they had all these amazing-

Tucker:
How?

Carin:
Obama might have been the first of the group, because he at the time was a senator in Illinois. I think actually there was somebody who graduated, an alum, was on the cabinet for Clinton so he of course knows everybody. And once Obama did it then Colbert did it then everybody’s like-

Tucker:
‘Oh I have to go to Knox College.’

Carin:
Exactly.

Geoff:
Did you get into Evolutionary Psychology, or Human Sexuality, there in college? How did that play out?

Carin:
Studying it? Yes. So, Frank McAndrew actually changed my life. I don’t know if you’ve met him, he teaches Social Psychology but also got into Evolutionary Psychology and, in my senior year – I actually started as a Computer Science major and then I still liked Psychology but I wasn’t sure and I thought ‘The sex ratio in computer science is pretty propitious for me, I should probably stick this out.’ But it was really bad.

Tucker:
‘Propitious’? That’s awesome.

Geoff:
Guys, that means ‘good’.

Tucker:
Some of our listeners are less academically capable, or intellectually capable, than others.

Carin:
So I ended up in my senior year, I needed an elective and there’s this class being taught – Evolutionary Psychology. I had heard Frank McAndrew was a great teacher and, I don’t know what the heck that is, so I took it. I thought going into it ‘I know what evolution is. That makes sense.’ I didn’t have any idea about how evolution worked. I got into this class and was like ‘holy crap.’ As I’m sure you guys know; a lot of guys in outfield have an a-ha moment, even if it’s not a literal moment, but that was my a-ha moment. I was reading stuff and I said ‘That’s how all this stuff goes together. That’s how all these things make sense.’ So that was my meta theory. But that was my senior year and so I had to take a year off to wait to get into grad school but that was it.

Tucker:
What did you do in your year off? Anything fun? Bummed around Knox College?

Carin:
I wish. I actually applied to try and get a lab job somewhere. Couldn’t find anything so instead what I did was I got some crappy customer service job and just read every book and article I could get my hands on.

Tucker:
So you’re from Illinois, obviously? Schaumburg?

Carin:
Naperville.

Tucker:
Oh even better! No, Naperville is better than Schaumburg. Schaumburg is the worst. You don’t tell people you’re from Chicago, do you?

Carin:
I usually say outside of Chicago.

Tucker:
OK, good. Because people from the suburbs who say they’re from Chicago are the fucking worst.

Carin:
On the other hand nobody knows anything about Illinois outside of Illinois so if you say ‘I’m from Naperville’, people are like ‘what the hell are you talking about?’

Tucker:
Of course. Outside of Chicago is fine. But don’t claim Chicago when you’re from the suburbs. Suburb people…. I went to the University of Chicago and all the fucking suburb people said ‘I’m from Chicago’. I was like ‘so you must live close?’ ‘No. Two hours away. In Oak Brook. Or whatever the fuck. Homewood Flossmoor.’ ‘Get the fuck out of here. You’re not from Chicago.’

Carin:
I hate those Homewood people. They always beat us at golf.

Tucker:
They’re the worst.

Geoff:
Yeah. I’m from outside Chicago. Cincinnati.

Tucker:
That is a little bit outside because everywhere in the Mid-West is pretty fucking terrible.
So tell me, what was it like working, because I’ve known David for five years. Geoff’s known him forever. This won’t go on the podcast I promise, but what was it like working with him as a grad student? Was he a hard ass? Was he really sweet?

Carin:
David is one of a kind. He is so hands off. He will let you do what you need to do. Before I went to grad school I didn’t know a single person who had gone to grad school. My parents didn’t go to college. I had no idea what was going to happen. I come in there and was like ‘Alright, what do I do?’ Before school starts, should I go to the library and study? I don’t know. What am I supposed to be doing? So he just… I set up a meeting with him and I wanted to discuss-

Tucker:
So you didn’t know how to do research?

Carin:
I didn’t know… I knew how to do research but I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing.

Tucker:
I mean academic research – a paper or whatever.

Carin:
Yeah I did a thesis but I mean going in to grad school, like before you ever have a meeting with your professor you’re like ‘should I come in with…?’ I don’t know what I’m supposed to have. So I’m like ‘Oh my god, what do I do?’ And he was so laid back and cool about everything and I was like ‘here’s what I’ve been doing.’ And I printed out like three single space pages of ideas and we just sat there and went through them all. And he was like, ‘That’s been done, that’s been done.’ Or I had a hypothesis and he’s like, ‘No that’s not going to work and here’s why.’ We went through and culled them to about half a page’s worth of ideas, which was actually really great. But that’s the kind of… he’s there to help you when you need help, but he’s not going to seek you out and hold your hand and say ‘Here’s what you do next’, or ‘Here’s my project, go write it.’ He does not do anything like that. So it was cool if you’re the kind of person who goes in with a bunch of ideas. If you’re like ‘I don’t know what I want to do’, he might not be the best fit. But I loved it. It was great. I got so much done and he was really supportive with anything I brought to him.

Tucker:
So when did you actually get your PhD, your graduate from UT? Same thing right? You have to excuse my academic… When you graduate it’s getting the same thing as your PhD? It’s the same time?

Carin:
Yes. It was a straight PHD program. There wasn’t a masters or anything like that. I think it was 2011 or 2010.

Tucker:
You know what’s funny. I think I actually know who you are. Here’s why. Because I actually met David in, I think, it was ‘09 or early 2010. He emailed me or I emailed him. No, it was actually ’09. Because I was doing something and it was right before I moved to Austin. He emailed me and said ‘I’m sure you don’t know who I am but blah blah.’ I’m like, ‘Excuse me, I know exactly who you are. I have all your fucking books. I’m a huge EvPsych person.’ And he’s like ‘I’m going to be in Austin.’ I’m like ‘I live in Austin; let’s get dinner.’ And then we just kind of became friends and whatever and then I remember I jokingly said to him, ‘If you know any hot single girls you should set me up.’ He was like ‘Actually a lot of my grad students are very pretty. There’s a few of them. I think some of them are single, I’m not really sure.’ I’m like ‘Oh, of course you’re not sure.’ He’s like ‘Really, I’m not sure. Just go look on my department page. They’re all on there. If you want me to set you up with one just tell me and I’ll introduce you over email or something.’ And so if it was 2009 or ’10 you were probably on the page. In fact I remember two or three really pretty blonde girls. And I was like ‘he really does have a lot of hot grad students’. The dudes all looked like schlubby dudes and the girls were, almost all of them were pretty. I was like, ‘Alright, that’s nice. I’m big into this.’ And so I’m like ‘How about any of them?’ and then he says ‘I talked to blah blah blah and she has a boyfriend and blah blah blah and she’s not interested and blah blah is out of town’ so I guessed I was shit out of luck. So you were one of the three.

Carin:
Well one of them was married, I can tell you that.

Tucker:
Were you married at the time?

Carin:
No, but one of-

Tucker:
Did you have a boyfriend?

Carin:
I don’t know. Maybe.

Tucker:
You’re married now, right?

Carin:
Well yeah.

Tucker:
So when did you start dating him?

Carin:
2010.

Tucker:
So you might have been the one he said had a boyfriend. I’m a little bit angry at this.

Carin:
Well apparently both of you guys are angry at me so this is going to go great.

Tucker:
You turned him down for grad school. You turned me down for a date. Even though you didn’t know probably.

Carin:
Even though neither of these choices were presented to me.

Tucker:
Right! Exactly. You still turned us down. This is why the manosphere is so mad. Because you’re all turning us down even though you don’t know we’re approaching you.

Carin:
How dare I?

Tucker:
I know. How dare you? You should know and then come up to us.

Carin:
I’m supposed to be intuitive, right.

Tucker:
Exactly. That’s how women are supposed to be. I totally remember this. I don’t remember you specifically or whatever because I didn’t, why would I read anyone’s name? I’m just like, ‘she’s pretty’. I totally remember that. He was like ‘Yeah, no, it’s not going to work, sorry.’

Geoff:
Well it is a striking thing that, in my view a lot of attractive women in EvPsych and not so much in other Psych areas. I’ve got a little pet theory that we concentrate so much on mate choice and attractiveness that people who aren’t pretty confident about their sexuality or attractiveness just run for the hills and don’t want to into the field. Whereas people who are confident, but don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend, are willing to go into it. So it’s not like Buss was sitting there going ‘I want all the pretty girls’, but it’s just those are the women who are confident going into it. It also means you have a great peer group. I mean we’re going to interview a lot of people from Buss’s lab, who you went to school with. So it seems as being a hands off advisor you can get away with that if the other grad students around you are doing the cool stuff and being supportive. Is that your experience?

Carin:
I definitely agree. As far as you said, the field is somewhat intimidating because it doesn’t have absolutes but it’s like ‘These are the things we know.’ It’s not a touchy feely subject. We always joke about why an Evolutionary Psych consulting firm would be really tough because people don’t want to hear it. ‘Here are some things that will help, but they are hard.’ It’s so much harder than going to a therapist who says –

Tucker:
‘You need to lose weight.’

Carin:
Who says, ‘they should accept you for who you are and there’s nothing wrong with you.’ Or ‘here’s the pill’. Or whatever.

Tucker:
My therapist doesn’t say that shit.

Carin:
It seems like those things are what people want to hear. And it’s the same kind of thing going into something you’re going to study for the rest of your life and be surrounded by. If you’re intimidated by those ideas, like you said, you’re going to run for the hills. There’s also another effect, which is that as you learn more and more about it you’re more and more embracing of that lifestyle of ‘Oh, ok. I see what other people, opposite sex or otherwise, appreciate in terms of mate value, friend value, or whatever, and so I’m going to try to do those things.’

Tucker:
Maximize those things, yeah, right.

Geoff:
Your best friend in grad school was Jaime Cloud and you lived together. So what was it like actually learning about all this stuff – how human mating works? She was single most of that time?

Carin:
She was married most of grad school. Yeah, she was married but we did live a block from each other. We were attached at the hip.

Geoff:
So what was it like kind of dating in grad school and fitting it together with what you were studying?

Tucker:
She barely avoided me apparently. Met her boyfriend right before David Buss could have hooked us up. Probably good for you though, right?

Carin:
So going to grad school, what do you mean? You mean like knowing about these things or you mean dating, knowing these principles?

Geoff:
Yeah. Looking over the information. Do you have experience of dates where you go back home and go, ‘Oh my god, that happened? I need to study that’. Or, do you have concepts from research and you just start seeing the world of dating through those goggles.

Carin:
I say it’s more the latter. Probably the former and I might not even be aware of it but seems more like I see situations – other people’s situations, my own situations – and I keep applying things I already know. I can guess how this person’s going to react or this explains why this person did this or that. I definitely can see that and it’s sometimes good and bad. Sometimes you get in your head about it but on the other hand, and you guys have probably talked about this, but knowing what is natural or what comes naturally, if you know about it you can try to avoid it if you deem it worthy of avoiding. So things like, I know I’ve got this inclination that I want someone who can support me and who has resources and things like that. But the fact I know that there’s this innate drive lets me say ‘Well do I really care about that or not? Can I consciously say that’s not a big deal to me?’ So I find it’s sometimes helpful and sometimes not. It just depends.

Tucker:
When’s it not helpful?

Carin:
I think it’s not helpful when you start to analyze – let’s say I study attractiveness, so I know all the things that makes somebody attractive. So every time I look in the mirror I see, it’s almost like imagining superimposed algorithms and angles and everything else all over your body and you’re constantly thinking about ‘how do I measure up to these things?’ And that can be kind of tough, you know. You have to think about, what’s my actual peer group that I should be compared to, not these models. It’s like an extra step-

Tucker:
It makes you very self-conscious. It’s a good thing you’re very pretty I guess. If you were ugly, studying attractiveness it would probably suck a lot more and it would a whole other step. Also, to follow up on what Dr. Miller was asking, did you find that… I know you said ‘OK, this is what other people find attractive. I’m going to work on them on myself.’ Did you also start looking at guys where you’re like, ‘Oh he’s trying, or acting in this way, or expressing this behavior.’ You almost found yourself ahead of a lot of guys, maybe more than before? Or was it, you meet a guy you really like and all that shit’s out the window and you’re in love and it’s sunshine and kittens and everything’s wonderful.

Carin:
I’d say it’s a little bit of both. It’s complicated. I mean, sometimes that are things where I can say ‘I know why this guy is doing these things. I know why he’s pulling away right now’ or whatever, little things like that. I have a really great Pick Up Artist story to tell you guys.

Tucker:
Please. Please do.

Carin:
So I was reading ‘The Game’ actually, just in grad school. I was like ‘I should read this.’

Tucker:
We actually know Neil pretty well, he’s coming on the podcast.

Carin:
OK cool. So I’m like, ‘You know, David is talking about it and everything. I should actually read this. This might help me in terms of reasoning and stuff.’ So I’m reading it. I’m probably half way through it or so and I’m out at a bar. I’m single in Austin, going out to the bar and a guy literally pulled a trick right out of the book on me and it was so great. So I’m at the bar… I don’t know if you’re familiar with this part of the book but it’s like tips for getting women interested in you when you’re having conversations. One thing is, you make up you have this ridiculous job that could never exist or is really rare or is something preposterous. And that gets them interested so they want to know more about it. So I had literally just read this the day before. I go to the bar, this guy comes up and he’s talking to me whilst he orders his drink, we introduce ourselves and he says, ‘Hi I’m so-and-so’ and I say ‘What do you do?’ And he says ‘I repair disposable lighters.’ And I was like why would you ever repair disposable lighters? And I think this might actually be the literal example from the book. But I was like ‘Why would you repair a disposable lighter?’ And he was kind of weirded out by the question. I was like ‘How is that not the first question anybody asks?’

Tucker:
That’s my favorite part of ‘The Game’ and all the Pick Up Artists. Because as soon as you get past their programmed line there’s ‘urgh…. I don’t have any more instructions.’ Wait, why did he not say something cool like ‘oh you know the person at the pound that kills the dogs? I do that.’ Something like that would be really funny. ‘They don’t use IVs or medicine or whatever to kill the cats. They just hold them underwater. I just hold them under water. I get scratched up a little bit but it’s no big deal. Pay’s good.’ That would be hilarious.

Carin:
It would definitely be more interesting.

Tucker:
Yeah and if she laughs, she’s a dog person so you should definitely be with her. If she’s mortified, she’s a cat person, she’s probably got toxoplasmosis, get her the fuck out. Right? Exactly.

Carin:
Right so that was pretty exciting. I was like, ‘Wow. That is literally from the book I just read.’

Tucker:
It’s not even a bad idea. But say funny shit. Say funny shit. And you asked him that question –

Carin:
I did. And he said something like –

Tucker:
He literally couldn’t come back with an answer.

Carin:
He flailed… ‘Well, you know… some people want to keep their disposable lighters.’

Tucker:
That’s amazing.

Geoff:
So he went off script within ten seconds.

Tucker:
I don’t know if that’s off script. That’s the obvious question. Why would you do this? If there is a script, that’s the next question. What else is a woman supposed to say, ‘That’s so interesting?’ Or, ‘Fill up my disposable lighter.’ Those would be the two things. ‘Why would you do that’ or ‘oh, I have a disposable lighter that’s almost empty. Can you fill it up?’ Those would be the two obvious answers.

Carin:
Or maybe they’re hoping for deer in the head lights and they’re just like ‘oh, ok’ and then move on. And they seem like ‘Oh, you’re intriguing. I don’t understand you.’ I don’t know, I don’t know.

Tucker:
Oh man, that’s amazing. Alright, so that actually I think leads into your research pretty good. So you have a ton of stuff to talk about so we can, I’m going to start with some things and then we’ll go where it goes. Because you have so much stuff that’s cool I think. So one of the big things actually as a category is men’s perception of their value, how they read signs of women’s interest and things like that. So, just so you understand, our audience is not – you’re not talking to Evolutionary Psychology scholars. They’re just basically a bunch of dudes and they’re trying to get better at their lives so they can be better at getting in relationships with women. Short, medium and long. Most of them are normal guys. So a lot of the questions I ask are going to be a little bit simplistic. Because no one knows this stuff. You know it. Evolutionary Psychology community knows it. The sort of communities around it know it. But people don’t really understand this stuff, especially how it applies in our lives. We just talked about this.

Geoff:
A lot of these guys are high school, college. They’re 23, pretty young.

Tucker:
So, what do guys do wrong, generally speaking, in their perception of value? What does your research say? How do guys see themselves? Do they see themselves as being too good? Not good enough? Where do guys fall?

Carin:
It’s kind of interesting because if you just ask guys anecdotally about this – if you’re talking to a woman, do you feel like you get rejected more, do you feel like you miss out more, they tend to feel they’re scared to reject women because they might reject me. But when we actually run the studies it turns out that guys feel that women are more interested in them than the women actually are. So they’re more likely to approach women even if they’re not that interested in them. Which I’m not saying is necessarily a bad thing but it’s just kind of surprising when you hear guys complaining or worrying, ‘I might go up and she might say no or she might laugh at me.’ It turns out that guys actually seem to think that they’re pretty great. And not to say that they’re necessarily wrong. A lot of the research that I’ve done and other people have done, it’s really difficult to say what’s accurate, because what do we compare it to? We say OK, you and I have a conversation and afterwards we get you to rate how interested do you think I am and then I say how interested I am in you. Who’s to say I’m being completely honest? So that’s a problem inherent in all of this research and something we have to try to figure out. But from what we know right now, it sounds like guys tend to overestimate how interested women are in them. Not by a lot. It’s not like a guy meets a girl and they have a nice conversation and he’s like ‘Oh she’s coming home with me tonight’. It’s not usually something that extreme. We’re talking on a seven point scale they’re increasing it by a point or so. So it’s just kind of like this little boost of positive illusion I guess, if you think of it as a misperception. Recently though I’ve been doing some research with Rob Kurzban, which indicates that it might be the case that guys are actually more accurate than we thought and that women are simply playing down-

Tucker:
They’re lying to themselves too, or they’re lying to the researcher, right, because they want to convince themselves.

Carin:
Yeah. We don’t know which it is, but when you incentivize people it turns out that men don’t really change their answers. So if you ask them about a hypothetical woman, ‘How interested would she be if she held your hand or kissed you, or something like that?’ guys give their answer. We say, you know what, we asked 200 women and we’re going to pay you based on how accurate you are to what they’d say, guys don’t really change their answer. But women do. So when we say, ‘What do other women say if we said, you kissed this guy. How much does this mean you want to have sex with him?’ Women do change their answers and they change them to be more like men’s. So it’s kind of a muddied water situation. It’s unclear, I think probably both things are happening. I think women are under reporting and playing down how interested they are when they have to report it to somebody. But I also do think that guys have somewhat more of a bias in terms of thinking that women are a little bit more interested in them than they really are. But it might be behavioral and so that gets into strategy. So it’s a numbers game to a certain extent. The more women you approach the more likely it is you’re going to find one who’s interested in you and so if we can’t really rely on women’s accurate reporting of their interest what we can rely on of course is behavior. Do they go home with you at night or whatever? But anyway, all this is to say both things are probably happening. Under reporting on the part of women and guys are probably overestimating a little bit.

Tucker:
Let me ask you a question. I’ve read the abstracts, I didn’t go deep in the studies on this so I don’t know, are you studying cold approaches or situations where the women already have some relationship with the guy, even if it’s just like we’re in the same study group or something.

Carin:
That’s a great question. So most studies have focused on what you would call cold. So in our study we said we’re studying first impressions. So we got a bunch of people in, had them talk to each other for a few minutes at a time and then at the end of that few minutes they rated each other. And so it wasn’t like a cold approach in the sense that they thought it was a mating related thing. They just thought it was just how you meet someone and determine, because we asked them a bunch of things like, ‘How introverted is this person’, and all these things. Other studies have done completely cold in the sense that they’d come up with a hypothetical person you’re just reading a story about. But studies where they actually use somebody that you know, for example a female friend, you have a female friend and they are asking guys about this. There’s been at least one study that’s looked at that and they also find an overestimation effect but usually if you know the person it’s not as big of an overestimation as if you didn’t know them at all.

Tucker:
So all the three types basically break down the same. Guys slightly over estimating or maybe not, depending on how honest women are being with themselves.

Geoff:
Am I right in also thinking you actually found the more attractive the guy is the more he tends to over-perceive the sexual interest?

Carin:
Yeah. So we actually found this really cool effect with attractiveness and it’s that guys who overestimated their attractiveness also overestimated how interested women were in them and guys who-

Tucker:
Delusional people. It’s called delusional. They’re called delusional narcissists. I know a few of them.

Carin:
So the guys who had these positive illusions about how attractive they are also had positive illusions about how interested the women were in them. The guys who were actually really attractive; by here I mean the women in the study actually rated them as being physically attractive, those guys didn’t overestimate as much. They were much closer to accuracy.

Tucker:
Was this just a study of physical attractiveness, most of them? Or overall, because they were talking to them so it was how attractive are they as a potential mate?

Carin:
We asked them a bunch of questions. In amongst all these questions we asked ‘how physically attractive is this person?’ as well. So we also got a physically attractiveness rating as well, rated by the women that they actually talked to.

Tucker:
We have a lot of guys that ask us, ‘how do I know when women are into me?’ Which, aside from the obvious answer, which is, ‘Well, you have Asperger’s and you need to work on a lot of things in your life that involve emotions’ but there are a lot of guys who don’t have Asperger’s who really have a lot of problems understanding signs of attraction. And so were there any situations where you found guys, not systematically, but underestimating how much women were actually into them, or not?

Carin:
It’s a good question. I don’t think so. I don’t think we found any guys underestimating. Or at least not a pattern. So certain individual men might underestimate but we didn’t see any patterns with what we studied. We did find that in terms of predicting when it’s most likely to happen, so in terms of practical knowledge, the more you are attracted to and like the woman, the more likely, unfortunately, you are to overestimate how much she likes you. So the more attractive the woman was, the more likely the guys in the study were to think ‘Oh, she really wants me.’ And other things as well, like if guys perceived her as being extroverted and friendly and agreeable, smiles a lot, they thought ‘Oh she really likes me’. So those were all instances of specific things cues they were picking up on that weren’t, apparently, diagnostic of interest.

Geoff:
And you’ve got a whole theory of why guys tend to do this over-perceiving as an adaptive thing about the costs of missed mating opportunities. I think it’s a cool theory because it sheds light on why guys have some of these built in things that look like errors but they actually kind of make adaptive sense, and that we shouldn’t be too hard on them about making these mistakes. Do you want to briefly run through that?

Carin:
Sure. So this is actually Martie Hazelton and David Buss’s theory, error management theory. And it is what it sounds like. It’s about managing errors. So when you’re talking to a woman, you go to the bar, you have a nice, friendly conversation. You’ve got to decide at some point, is this woman interested in me or not? Do I continue to pursue this or do I leave and go do something else? So there’s a couple of ways you can be correct. You can say ‘she really likes me’ and you’re right and you hook up that night or maybe you say ‘I’m not really picking up on this’ and it really is the case she’s not interested in you and you move on and cut your losses, great. The cool thing is the errors. So there’s two different ways you can error. There’s false alarm and a miss. So false alarm is, I’m having this conversation and she’s smiling, she seems extroverted, and I’m like ‘this chick is into me!’ Turns out she’s really not and by the end of the night she’s going to go off with her friends and you’ve wasted an entire night talking to her. So there’s a cost to that error. The other kind of error is a miss. So you have this conversation with her at the bar but she’s kind of looking around and you think she’s not into you but she’s really just looking for her friend who happened to run off to the bathroom, she’s worried about her, right. She turns around, you’re gone. You’ve missed because maybe she was willing to go home with you, right. That’s a huge cost in terms of reproductive success, not to say that anyone is consciously thinking about that. But why this bias evolved in the first place is that if we can bias our behavior towards whatever the less costly error is then that’s going to better. We’re going to be more likely, if we’re guys, we’re going to be more likely to make these false alarms or at least behave as though we’re making false alarms.

Tucker:
That’s weird though. It seems that, I might be wrong, but it seems if you think about human evolutionary environments, the more costly error for the guy would be to overestimate that the woman’s into him because then he risks sexual humiliation or approaching the woman – because if you’re in a small tribe, everyone knows everyone, there’s a lot more reputational effects. It seems like it would be the other way. If you’re talking about the way that people are designed, but then of course the way they actually act, you can learn shit and change your behavior in an environment.

Carin:
There’s definitely certain situations that would impose a much greater cost. For example if it’s possible that she’s mated or her family’s around, there are certain contexts where that cost-benefit ratio might suddenly be much different, but outside of those contexts, if we’re looking at reproductive success, sexual humiliation or other people maybe getting the impression that your mate value is a little bit lower, or something like that, is costly. No one is saying that is not a cost. But relative to missing out on reproducing, that’s a big difference, at least in terms of reproductive success. Psychologically, in terms of ‘I anticipate this mental pain’, that might be very different. That’s a different motivation. But in terms of reproductive success, missing out on mating opportunity is just way too big of a cost.

Geoff:
So we’re descended from the guys who had very few misses, right? And they kind of evolved to over-perceive and we’re not descended from the guys who were totally realistically calibrated because they just-

Carin:
Or at least not on the other end either because ‘I don’t know if she likes me or nor’ and you do that your whole life. Those genes aren’t making it to the next generation. You’re never putting yourself out there so if you’re going to go one way or the other it seems you should err towards false alarms, towards approaching lots of women, even if the odds are quite small. There’s these great theoretical papers out there, but basically it boils down to a numbers game. Even if the odds of an individual woman being interested in me are quite low, if I don’t have any other options, or if I have this extra time, that might be worth it. And so, in those situations we’re going to see guys more likely to make that kind of error. It’s not that they want to make the error – errors are bad – but if you going to err one way or the other, err in that direction.

Geoff:
And presumably guys are going to be a little sensitive to the context. Like if you’re the solo nerd in a biker bar and you’re having a conversation with a leather jacket rock chick and you think ‘I don’t know if any of these dudes are her boyfriend’, you might be a little less prone to do sexual overperception.

Tucker:
You read the social signs. You’re not an idiot. If you’re not reading those sorts of signs you’re one of the guys who gets killed in one of the FX TV shows about that. So, let me ask you, what do you think guys who have problems reading ‘is she into me?’, a guy who overestimates, if I’m overestimating how many women are into me I think I probably, definitely, over the course of my life have fallen into that camp, where I’ve definitely thought that women were way more into me. Not all women, but I’ve erred in that camp. So probably at least 10-20% of the time in my life I’ve thought a girl was totally into me, but it turned out not. She’s like ‘you’re nice, but I’m not touching your penis, that’s ridiculous’. I definitely fall into that camp. What about the guys who fall into the other camp? What would you say? I get why my strategy works. What can the guys in the other camp do? Or can you think of anything, maybe research wise, that would help them? How do you either, it’s tough to say ‘just err in the other direction’. What do you do if you’re really bad at picking up signs, apart from learning how to pick up better signs? How do you maybe readjust and think ‘I need to make errors in the other direction’?

Carin:
There’s a few things. Obviously picking up on signs would be good. There’s a lot of things like physical contact, shared laughing, things like that that are great, that are easy to pick up on. It’s not like things you really have to intuit. They are very obvious signs.

Tucker:
Trust me, don’t say these are obvious. They are not obvious to everyone, to 90% of our listeners. So run down, literally, the things that you know are obvious to me, not obvious to our listeners. So what are some things that guys should look for if they’re unsure of attraction from a woman?

Carin:
One really well documented one is physical touch. She touches your arm or you brush up against her and she doesn’t move away. Those kinds of things.

Tucker:
Women don’t touch men that they’re not sexually interested in. If you want to move by me and tap me on the shoulder OK, whatever. But if we’re sitting here talking in a conversation and I say something funny and you touch me and say ‘Oh stop it, that’s so funny’ it doesn’t necessarily mean you want to sleep with me in the bathroom in five minutes but it definitely means that you are interested in me. Women don’t do that shit by accident.

Carin:
No. Using those touches for emphasis or, like you said, when you say something funny and you laugh and touch them, those are all really, really good signs that person is interested in you.

Geoff:
I missed at least twenty dates in high school from not understanding that one thing, I guarantee it.

Tucker:
If a woman touches you, directly, intentionally touches you when you are talking, that is probably the clearest sign of sexual interest, other than saying ‘I want to have sex with you’, is probably the clearest sign. Next clearest sign is the touch, right?

Carin:
Yeah, I would say it’s a really really good sign.

Tucker:
An intentional touch during conversation. So guys, don’t go walking around, bump into a woman and go ‘Oh it looks like you’re into me’. It doesn’t work that way. OK so touch is a big one. What’s another big one?

Carin:
Laughing, particularly mutual laughing. Like you tell a joke and she laughs, and you’re laughing. Not laughing at you per se. But sharing in something funny like that is a good sign, again not 100% but when you add all these cues up you can get a sense of, are they all pointing in one direction or the other? Maintaining eye contact; something that’s probably really difficult to notice but is a good signal of arousal is pupil dilation. So when you’re really having a good time or sexually aroused or whatnot your pupils dilate.

Tucker:
OK hold on, because I know a lot of guys won’t know what that means. That means the black part in your eye gets bigger.

Carin:
It’s like you’re high or something.

Tucker:
Yeah, seriously it is. That’s actually a great way. If a girl is not acting high, but looks high and is touching you a lot, and smiling and laughing, she’s into you.

Carin:
Yeah. There you go.

Tucker:
What are some other good ones?

Carin:
There’s some research that say things like mimicking.

Tucker:
Yeah, mirror neurons.

Carin:
Yeah, exactly.

Tucker:
What do you mean some research? There’s a bunch of research isn’t there?

Carin:
In terms of liking someone, not necessarily sexually liking them. So it’s definitely showing affiliation and you like this person.

Tucker:
She could just be agreeing with what you’re saying.

Carin:
It’s true, yeah but once you add all these things up though, once you accumulate them, you’re going to get a good picture. There’s a lot of these physical cues. Again there’s flirting research on things like flipping hair and exposing parts of the body.

Tucker:
Oh, that’s a huge one. When girls play with their hair. This is anecdotally in my life, play with their hair when they’re talking, twist and twirl, I’m like ‘I’m sleeping with her’. Done. As much as hoop earrings mean she’s crazy, twirling her hair means she wants to fuck you, at least this is my life. I could easily be wrong, there could be any number of things wrong with that, but in my life, doing this a lot. Sorry we’re in audio – podcast people, I’m taking, a girl pulls her hair behind her ear a lot, does that, that’s a big unconscious sign I’ve seen in my life, twisting her hair is a huge one. The other big one, playing, stroking a glass, up and down. Huge one, I’ve seen.

Carin:
Straw play.

Tucker:
Straw. Straw’s a big one. Oral straw play. But that’s, that’s… The next step is putting a fucking cherry stem in your mouth and tying it in a knot.

Geoff:
Yeah we’re going to have a whole podcast on oral straw play, no doubt.

Tucker:
You can do that one. I’m not-

Carin:
I think you’re going to need video for that one.

Tucker:
Right, so playing with hair. Is there research on that? Because in my life I’ve been like, that’s a big one for me.

Carin:
The research that I’ve seen seems to be kind of a presentation thing. Presenting, essentially cues, of reproductive values – look at my beautiful, illustrious hair. Showing off my bug eyes, or sitting in a way that shows of my waist-hip ratio.

Tucker:
Girls aren’t stripping and pulling their clothes off but it’s sort of leaning forward, putting their chest a little more forward, things like that.

Carin:
Exactly, presentation. You guys have probably talked about this, but cues of attractiveness. Things that men consider attractive, women are presenting them. Those are all really good signs and then, in terms of – the things is, it’s really tough for guys, and I feel for them, because in my research I found that it’s the women they really like that they are most likely to be wrong about in terms of how interested they are. On the other hand, on the promising side, showing that you like this person, mutual affection is a big predictor. So, I might not be sure about this guy but he really is showing all these cues that he likes me, that is already going to put him up a little bit, in sense of ‘OK maybe I need to rethink this. Maybe this is going to work because he seems to be really into me’.

Tucker:
Or you start looking for things in him to find attractive. Like I’ve definitely been in a situation like that where I’m really into this girl and I’m paying attention to her and she wasn’t paying attention to me at first but then all of a sudden she’s like ‘maybe he attractive’ or ‘maybe if I dress him better and he takes a shower this could be boyfriend material’ or something like that. Definitely, no doubt. I don’t know if the Romantic Proof podcast will run before or after this one but we talked about that in Romantic Proof. To put it plainly and simply, women like guys who like them.

Carin:
Yeah. Absolutely. Like I said it’s a double-edged sword. The research shows if you like the girl you’re more likely to overestimate her interest but on the other hand you’re also more likely to behave as though you like her, because you do, and so she’s more likely to eventually reciprocate. It might not be immediate, that might be why we’re getting that misperception thing at first, but maybe later, and I actually want to run this research, so we give them this feedback, this is how much this guy likes you. Does that change the next time they see this guy? Are they going to treat him differently because now they’ve got this inside information that this guy already likes them? So that’s something I want to, I don’t know if any research has done that yet. Turns out it’s very complicated to do something like that.

Tucker:
I feel like somebody at UT, like Eastwick, I’m probably going to get the name wrong, I just read this. They did a study that shows the longer… basically if you put a bunch of women in a room and you show them a bunch of pictures the women’s preferences are going to converge on the same few guys and they’re going to be the guys you’d think of as attractive: tall, dark, handsome, light eyes. If you tell them stories, ‘he’s intelligent, he’s rich’. But then you actually start to – the more time women spend with actual dudes, the more preferences diverge. Is that because women find more to be attractive in the other guys or is it because of exactly what you’re saying, like romantic proof? A woman will be like ‘well, I rated this guy a five before but he’s really into me, and you know what, there’s a lot to like about him, so now I’m rating him an eight’.

Carin:
I think it’s both of those things. I think it’s when you just show people a bunch of pictures or you have ten seconds to talk to someone, you’re all basing your decision on the exact same information so it’s not surprising that everybody’s going to decide the same way. But once you get more information, now you have more things like ‘in my circle you’re a really amazing gamer. I’m a video gamer. That actually matters to me.’

Tucker:
Are you really a gamer?

Carin:
Oh, I am.

Geoff:
She really is. When I was trying to do a study on World of Warcraft, Carin was my go-to expert about how does this shit work. And she explained it.

Tucker:
Man, if you weren’t married do you know how many guys would be calling in after this podcast. ‘You do you have her number? A hot, smart gamer? Sign me up for that’. Your husband better watch out. Not from me.

Carin:
He games with me. He games with me.

Tucker:
OK. I guess if you share those things-

Carin:
Yeah but things like that, you realize we have this niche that we share. So you get more information, right. That’s part of it. And I do think the other part is knowing that this person really likes you. I mean in romantic relationships as well as just regular friendships and affiliations and what not, irreplaceability is huge so I want to know that you appreciate me so much that you feel that you couldn’t get on without me. That’s what it is to be a best friend. That’s what it is to be a romantic partner. You want to feel like this person couldn’t replace you, or at least not very easily. And so if somebody already likes you this early, you’re feeling really appreciated and so that’s already a huge plus for them. You’re filling a niche for them.

Tucker:
So, especially if you appreciate them for things that are different about them. Like I’m sure if your husband games, the fact that you’re a gamer is very valuable to him but if I met you I’d think ‘that’s cool that she’s into this stuff’, but I don’t give a fuck about World of Warcraft so it would be like a funny story you tell about this girl but it wouldn’t be anything, I wouldn’t value it as highly as another gamer would, obviously. Whereas my girlfriend’s super into Cross Fit, I do it too. I value that more than a guy who doesn’t care.

Carin:
Absolutely. And those are all things you can’t find out from a picture or usually a ten second conversation. That’s why those people are going to give more similar ratings for those than once they get to know someone.

Tucker:
Let’s talk a little bit about physical attractiveness too since we’ve kind of talked about that. You’ve done a lot of research on physical attractiveness. I know you did a couple of studies, like men tend to be more into women’s bodies when they’re looking short term, more into their faces when they’re looking long term. Is that true with girls too, with women?

Carin:
For women, at least in our study, we found that it didn’t matter whether we put them into a short term or long term context. They were more interested in the face, relatively speaking. It was 70/30 about. There was a fake guy and he was covered with a face box and a body box, and we said ‘you only get to take one of these boxes off to see what he looks like, which one do you want to see?’ 70% of the women, regardless of what position we put them in, wanted to see the face. It’s not to say that women don’t care about men’s bodies, because of course they do. But what it is saying is that faces give us a lot of information. We can get information about symmetry, we can get information about testosterone, and these are things that women care about in terms of good genes indicators and things like that. You can get that information from the face and it’s correlated with body information so women are maybe relying on that. There’s also this idea that you get a lot of social cues from the face. So it’s really important in general to pay attention to people’s faces. You get things like recognition. Like I’m saying something and you get it. Or prolonged eye contact, all this information. There’s a ton of information in the face, it’s so dense, and so women seem to be focusing on that regardless of short term or long term. You guys have probably talked about this before but for women, when they’re interested in short term it’s kind of like they’re interested in similar things as they would be in long term. Not for everything, but in terms of wanting somebody who’s high status, seems to be strong, all these things. So we didn’t really expect to find huge differences in women based on short term or long term.

Tucker:
Have you heard about his research with Nicole Prause about penis size? The little 3D penises?

Geoff:
We haven’t published it yet. We haven’t promoted it. We’re studying female preferences for penis size and as you know there have been a lot of studies that are describing it by numbers on paper or projecting schematic figures on walls. We’re doing the first thing where we have a Maker Bot 2.0 that 3D printed phalluses of different lengths and girths systematically and we just dump them in a box and have women pick out which would be optimal for a one night stand, which would be perfect for a husband, what’s the biggest one I’ve ever had, what’s the smallest one, etc. We haven’t analyzed the data yet but it’s exciting because the women can actually handle these so it’s a more realistic type of interaction than just thinking about a number; what does five inches mean or seeing a projected thing on a wall.

Carin:
And you get the relative cues – my hand wraps around it this much, or this much.

Geoff:
And I remember that-

Tucker:
Look at you, getting naughty. That’s awesome. So let me ask, this is super cool research, I think, you’ve done one or two papers that kind of revolve around the relationship between how attractive women rate themselves and their sexual strategies. You want to talk about that a little bit? Describe that research?

Carin:
Sure. What we were finding is some kind of things we predicted that I don’t think other people have necessarily thought about because no one really approaches these things, or not that many people approach self-rated attractiveness from an evolutionary perspective, but we wanted to see. We kind of thought that women who were more interested in short term mating or interested in casual sex, one night stands, those sorts of things, would probably be relying more on bodily attractiveness, based on what we know about in terms of men paying more attention to bodies for short term. So we thought women were capitalizing on this, either, maybe it’s that women with attractive bodies are getting more interest and therefore that that changes their self-perceived attractiveness or maybe it’s just that women are pretty accurate at their self-perceived attractiveness and if they have hot bodies they pursue short term mating strategies because that works. We didn’t really get at the causal arrow here but we did find that women who had more attractive bodies, and self-rated themselves as having more attractive bodies, had more sex partners, they had more sexual experience in the last year, they had higher SOI scores, which is a measure of mating strategy, meaning that they were more short term oriented. So we found all that and again we don’t know what direction it goes in but it’s kind of interesting. And we found that for women who have high SOI, meaning again they’re interested in short terming mating their BMI was a really good predictor of their overall attractiveness. That’s their body mass, so how heavy/thin, that was a really big predictor for them. But women who were low SOI, like the long term maters, the women who were like, ‘no I just want to get married’, their BMI was not a predictor at all of how attractive they thought they were. So it does seem like these women are taking special care or taking special note rather of their bodily attractiveness if they are pursuing short term mating. So that’s kind of cool. The other interesting thing we got out of that study was, we looked at self-rated vs. other rated attractiveness.
Tucker:
That was going to be my other question.

Carin:
What we found was two kind of interesting things. In terms of absolute value, everybody seems to think they are a couple of points hotter than they actually are. So I think I’m an eight but really I’m a six, or something, right? So everybody seemed to overestimate their own attractiveness, face, body, overall, no matter what.

Tucker:
Just like everyone thinks they’re a good driver.

Carin:
Exactly. Everybody thinks they’re above average. But, on the other hand, it’s not like everybody’s delusional because the correlation was still there – there was an extremely high correlation between what I thought about how attractive I thought I was relative to other people and what other people thought I was. So even though I might say I’m an eight, I still know that these hundred people are hotter than me and these people are not, you know what I mean? So I kind of know where I stand relatively speaking, but in terms of absolute value I’m giving myself a couple of extra points.

Tucker:
If you ever want to know where you stand, go to an airport. No, I’m serious. Walk around and look in an airport. And if you think these people are not that ugly then you’re ugly. And if you’re like these people are all awful, where are these monsters living when I’m in my normal day to day life, then you’re attractive. That’s my sort of measure.

Geoff:
Or you’re just a bitter misanthrope.

Tucker:
I’m not bitter or misanthropic. But every time I go to, especially a major airport like Atlanta or Denver that’s super busy, I’m like ‘man, I didn’t know there was so many ugly people in the world’. It’s amazing.

Geoff:
But airports are already self-selected for people who can afford to fly.

Tucker:
So they should be more attractive!

Geoff:
You need to go to malls.

Carin:
Or bus terminals.

Geoff:
Or DMV.

Tucker:
They’re worse. You want to know the worst? What’s the worse humanity ever? I’m telling you: amusement parks. Disney World… but even worse, go down a step: King’s Island, Six Flags, Six Flags San Antonio. You’ll seriously leave and try and call in some Napalm strikes to save the world gene pool from those people. I made the mistake of going there at some point. First of all, the person I went with, this girl, I was like ‘I’m never talking to you again’, and she was attractive. I guess she just came from a very poor, ugly area of the country. I was like, ‘I can’t hang out with you, you’re taking me to these awful places’. So, OK. So, if I’m a guy and I listen to you talk about that study. If I’m a stupid guy, and I listen to you, I don’t know about science or whatever, or I’m just doing something else as I’m listening to this podcast, what’s the take away from that for me with women. Self-rated, I get it, so if they self-rate their bodies it’s good, they take better care of them, short term mating. Alright, what does that matter to me? I don’t get it. What does that mean?

Carin:
I guess if the causal arrow is such so that women are pursuing a short term mating strategy and therefore they are more conscientious about their body and presenting it and things like that then it might, again I’m speculating here, be a cue that if a woman is keeping her body in shape and/or showing off her body in particular, then that might be a cue of accessibility for short term mating. Might be.

Tucker:
Right. For somebody. Maybe not for you, dude. But for whoever she finds attractive, right?

Carin:
True.

Geoff:
Accessibility for short term mating meaning more likely to want a one night stand or uncommitted fun or whatever.

Tucker:
Uncommitted relationships, of course, right. That’s pretty clear. It’s funny, it’s one of those things where you see it both ways, where guys will be like ‘I’ll see a girl out in a bright red dress, low cut, high heels’ and they’re like ‘I don’t know if she wants a boyfriend or not’ and I’m like ‘are you fucking stupid?’ like, look at her. Clearly she’s showing off parts of her body that she knows you find attractive. She wants somebody, might not be you, dude, but she wants somebody, generally speaking.

Geoff:
One point we keep trying to make to guys is that the things that women wear, clothing and accessories, don’t just fall randomly on them from their closet.

Tucker:
Well that’s how guys dress. They essentially put random shit on.

Geoff:
Yeah, whatever is easiest to reach, whereas women actually think and choose what to wear before they go out. Is that true?

Carin:
Absolutely, that’s true and so Jaime Cloud, who we mentioned before, and I have collaborated on a bunch of things including the attractiveness stuff, have this idea, and I’m sure other people have talked about this too, where women dress differently if they’re trying to impress men than if they’re trying to impress women. When women are piling on Prada handbags and taking out their Chanel lipstick and wearing their Louboutins, that’s when they’re hanging out with their girlfriends. Guys don’t give a crap about that stuff. So we think there’s very different types of strategies. You see it even in magazines – in women’s magazines you can see there’s two kinds of ads. There are high status ads, so women displaying all these luxury goods, these women are very slender, they usually don’t have large breasts, they very much exude ‘I made it, here are all the things I have gotten’, whereas-

Tucker:
What a great way to phrase it, ‘I have already made it and look at what I got for it’. Thank God you said that and not me, but that’s great.

Carin:
They’re showing off. They’re saying look at all these status things I have now. They’re not like, you don’t look at those ads and think ‘this woman is trying to get laid tonight.’ No, absolutely not. But then you look at some other ads in women’s magazines and you see these women are much curvier, they aren’t super skinny, they have big boobs, they have good waist-hip ratios, meaning hour glass figure. And what are they showing? They’re not doing the fancy schmanzy Prada handbags, they’re doing BayBay or Guess, they’re in skin tight jeans and crop tops and things. They’re just two very different strategies. And so, when women are out with women they’re taking one strategy which is show off all these statuses that I’ve gotten, usually via mating but maybe other means, and then when you’re going out to impress guys you’re wearing the dress up to here or down to there, whatever, you’re going all out in terms of showing off those assets that you have, that are related to your reproductive value, all that stuff.

Tucker:
Let me ask you, Dr. Miller and I have talked a lot about this, there’s really not a whole lot of research into female-female competition. You should do some. I bet you would do really well on it.

Carin:
Jaime that I’ve just mentioned, that’s her dissertation and that’s what she’s working on right now. She could tell it better, but she does this thing where she’s calling it like Ring Wars, where she notices that once women get their big bling on their finger, their engagement ring, they show it off a lot to other women and it’s very much like ‘Oh hi’, pushing your hair behind your ear with that hand.

Tucker:
Just like the dude who owns the BMW drives it everywhere. It’s the same shit.

Carin:
So she’s looking to see what do women get out of that. Do women treat them differently if they have these high status symbols? She’s trying to go through and study and see are there any beneficial effects we can see from that.

Tucker:
Let’s go back then. I guess the take away for that, guys is, and we’ve said this before. If you want to know, it’s not the only indicator, but if you want a good indicator of what a woman’s thinking about that night, or that time when she’s out, look at what she’s wearing, because chances are she put a lot of thought into it and it’s reflecting her mood, her intentions, her goals, any number of other things. So what are some easy things for guys to look at? She’s on the prowl vs. she’s looking for a boyfriend? Actually we found a lot of research, most guys are not actually looking for short term mating. Most guys, they’ll take short term mating, they’re not going go ‘No, I’m not going to have sex with this hot girl’ but actually most guys really are looking for, if not full time committed relationships, some sort of actual relationship. So the way we try to give advice, we try to say what are fundamentals, what really sort of matters, and then how does it maybe vary from short to long depending on what they guy’s goals are. But we’re never “long’s right”, “short’s right”. They’re all right, it just depends what your goals are. So if a woman’s wearing things that show off her body, or things that accentuate stuff that guys find attractive then that’s one data point that she’s in a shorter term mating mindset, right?

Carin:
Yeah, could be. And going along with that, studies that have shown that the more skin that is shown on a given night seems to correlate with ovulation as well as sexual desire so that could be just looking at how much skin is shown in general – could be a good hint in that direction. But like you said, she might be looking for someone but it might not be that individual.

Tucker:
It might not be you, right. Let me ask you a question. This is super interesting to me. What about a girl that goes out. Let’s say she doesn’t want a one night stand or a super short term thing. She’s very sexually free, wants to have sex, but wants to do it in the context of an ongoing relationship, something casual but real, that could potentially turn into something else. More of a normal girl. In common parlance, a non-slutty girl. Let’s try to strip all the political stuff out of that, right. How differently would she dress? Let’s say younger, going out to a bar, a shorter term mating venue. Because like you said, when I was single I’d get dressed up, go to bars, whatever, and you still met your husband somewhere similar, so it’s not like you can’t meet girlfriends that way. But do those girls dress differently, or is it individual or is there enough of an aggregate difference in strategy where you can say that girl wants a one night stand but she, she’s open but she wants more of a boyfriend?

Carin:
I don’t know if it’s discernible to that small of a degree. There’s lots of individual differences. Some women dress more revealingly than others, but for a given woman you can do a lot of predicting based on that. Like she normally dresses in T-shirts and gym shorts but tonight she’s going out in killer heels and a mini skirt, that might tell you a lot more than just seeing a woman who happens to be in a mini skirt. It’s one of those cues that’s hard to diagnose.

Tucker:
You can’t, it’s hard to say for any one woman because you have to have a baseline for that woman. It’s the same thing for detecting lies. There’s no tell. It’s like ‘if you look up and to the right you’re lying.’ No, asshole, it doesn’t mean that. It could mean that with this person but that’s off their baseline. So you’re saying it’s the exact same thing as detecting, reading body language, and once you establish a baseline you can tell variances off of that.

Geoff:
Presumably there’s also a big difference between whether the woman’s going out just to be social in general with friends in a public place vs. specifically going out on a date with you where basically the guy is the only major audience for what she’s chosen to wear. I guess the information conveyed by the clothing would be easier to read, or less ambiguous if this is our first date than if you happen to see her in a bar.

Carin:
Absolutely. I mean knowing the context would really help in figuring out what this clothing choice means. So, like you said, if you’re the main audience and she dresses up a lot more than what you see in everyday life, ‘Oh she’s trying to impress me – great’. That gives you a piece of information. If you meet a random woman at a bar you don’t know the context. Maybe she just came to the bar to meet her friend because her friend got drunk and she’s driving her home. She’s got no desire whatsoever to be at the bar. It’s a very different context. Maybe she’s dressed schlubby or something. That doesn’t really tell you a whole lot. If you don’t know the context or the situation it’s hard to know why she picked a particular outfit or not. If you know she went out with her friends, and that’s why she’s wearing one of these super unflattering but very expensive, tented tank top things that shows nothing and lounge pants or something, that’s not really impressing any guys, but she wasn’t trying to. So knowing the context is always helpful.

Tucker:
You did a paper on what people worry about? We have this – we go over this again and again and again with guys. What are some things that women worry about that guys just don’t understand or don’t worry about?

Carin:
In that paper we didn’t really look at that per se, but anecdotally we can talk about things that…. One of David Buss’ studies was what are things that the opposite sex does that irritate or annoy you and there were like 140 things or something. The number one thing for women was sexual coercion and guys thought, when they were asked, they thought ‘women probably don’t like that’ but they didn’t think it was nearly as problematic as women did. So that’s something I think women worry about a lot. And maybe not explicitly or thinking about it and worrying about it all the time, but it’s something that’s in the back of every woman’s mind, and something that guys really don’t have to think about as much.

Geoff:
By sexual coercion we mean guys stalking, harassment, date rape, rape.

Tucker:
Clearly rape and date rape. They’re the same thing. You don’t have to call them separate things. All forms of rape. Clearly that, but I think a lot of guys don’t understand sexual coercion, how encompassing, what that means. Forms of harassment, cat calls, whatever. There are some women that don’t mind cat calls but here’s what a lot of guys don’t understand. Tell me if you agree with this, because you’re an attractive woman and you know the research. From your perspective, say you’re walking down the street or whatever, and some guy’s like ‘Hey baby, I want to get up in that ass’ or something. You can tell they’re just a douche yelling at you. You can sit here and say that’s not, that doesn’t bother me, but as I understand it most women, especially when that happens over and over and over, get really, really fucking annoyed with that. It makes sense to me. Does that happen to you or happen to a lot of women that get annoyed with it?

Carin:
I don’t know if annoyed is the right word. Maybe you say it’s annoying. But it does trigger something where it’s sort of fearful. Particularly if it’s a group of guys. That’s really scary because to them they think it’s, presumably, most of the time they’re doing it because it’s funny and they want to get a rise out of you or whatever, but to a woman, you don’t know that that’s the underlying motivation. So it’s like ‘Holy crap! What are my resources, where can I go right now?’ That triggers so many things in your head.

Tucker:
It triggers a fight or flight response.

Carin:
Exactly. And again for the error management reason. Yeah maybe they’re being funny and you should just forget about it and brush it off but on the other hand there’s a huge potential cost…. it’s like after it happens so many times and nothing bad happens but it’s still triggering this horrible response all the time, it turns into annoyance. But for me it’s more, it prompts me to be scared. And maybe I get annoyed that I have to be scared. I don’t want that.

Tucker:
Of course. We say this to guys over and over. I mean, how many times have we said this? Number one that women are thinking about when they’re around you, especially meeting you, if they don’t know you, is physical safety. And guys never think of it because guys aren’t worried. I mean “I’m not worried, physical safety, what are you talking about? I’m not going to punch anybody.” She doesn’t know that dude. She doesn’t know that. And until she knows you she can’t know that. And most guys never know that. The hypothetical we gave in a podcast was, and we got so much email from guys. It was actually Dr. Miller’s, you want to do the hypothetical? You’re the one who came up with it.

Geoff:
Yeah so we did this thought exercise with guys where we said ‘imagine you’re a straight guy but you kind of wander into a gay bar and you’re not into gay men but they’re into you and they’re all 8 inches taller and 100 lbs heavier than you and a lot stronger and they’re all hitting at you, staring at you, you’re unfamiliar with this environment, you don’t know what could happen. How would you feel?’ And it’s just a thought exercise. Not to be homophobic or any of that but just to get guys into the mindset, to understand what would it be like to be physically smaller and vulnerable and hit on.

Tucker:
Sexually harassed, objectified, all of that. You wouldn’t believe how many guys were like ‘Oh my god. I never thought about that.’ And then a bunch of them were like ‘yeah I was out with my sister and a bunch of her friends last night and it was like these dudes, I watched, every dude either stared at them, leered at them or didn’t come over, or tried these stupid things to get their attention, whatever. If one dude had just come over and said ‘hey, what’s up? My name’s whatever’, they would have been ten miles ahead of all the other guys.’ I’m like, guys this is so simple. But there’s a million reasons why they’re getting this wrong but a big part is ‘cause they don’t even understand the way that women experience this.

Geoff:
So Tucker and I have a little disagreement that’s been a running theme, which is that he focusses more on the woman’s concern about physical assault, ‘Oh, the guy’s going to kill me’. I focus a little bit more on the sexual coercion angle. ‘He’s not going to kill me but he might try to rape me.’ In terms of the balance, what specific anxieties, worries, costs, women are kind of tuned into in normal life.

Tucker:
And we’re talking, even if this is unconscious. We don’t think all women are running around afraid of every dude, of course not. Even if it’s unconscious. But you know as well as I do, unconscious thoughts are just as much if not more powerful in determining behavior.

Carin:
Yeah, I definitely think of course physical assault is a concern but if you’re out in a mating context then probably the thing that most comes to mind or is most easily accessible would be fears of sexual assault rather than physical assault, just because those are the contexts in which it’s likely to occur. Physical assault in a relationship, from a male to a female, is much more likely to occur in a relationship, and so if you’re just meeting a guy for the first time you’re probably less worried about that than you are about somehow being coerced into sex or he’s going to drug me or whatever.

Tucker:
Or even if he’s just going to pinch my ass or grab my tit or something like that, which is not the end of the world but still fucking shitty.

Carin:
Yeah it’s still coercive. So I would say in a mating context like that, at a bar or you just met this guy, you’re on a first date, those are the kind of things I think women are more likely to worry about than the physical assault aspect of it. That seems more likely to occur in the context of a relationship or particularly in the context of infidelity, things like that.

Geoff:
That’s a really good point, that the fear of physical violence without sexual coercion is going to be more of an issue if you already know the guy or he’s an ex-boyfriend. Or it’s a situation where you’re in Morocco, a foreign country, somebody’s trying to mug you. It’s not a mating context.

Tucker:
Let me ask you a question. More on your personal experience, because this is one of those areas that guys, once they understand, I think it really helps a lot of them. What was it like for you, a very smart, obviously very pretty, what’s it like for you, sort of high school, college, what were these – do you think they were appreciably different than other girls or was it about the same? Did guys treat you differently because you’re smart?

Carin:
That’s a good question. Honestly I don’t think I was cognizant enough, paying attention enough, to know if I was getting treated differently in high school about it. I can say as a grad student, you don’t want to mention that when you’re at a bar meeting guys. As soon as they find out you’re a grad student or you’re getting your PhD or you’re studying men overperceiving sexual interest, all of those are deal killers.

Tucker:
Seriously? Because that would be huge for me. I would be so, I would be up in that ass, fast. That would be the coolest thing for me.

Carin:
Well there’s definitely some guys, obviously, who are. But for the most part, I can tell you going around bars in Austin, as soon as you tell a guy ‘I’m getting my PhD at UT’ they’re like ‘OK let me go find something easier’. That’s the impression I got. I don’t know.

Tucker:
Are you serious? But you lived it obviously.

Carin:
I don’t know. Well I’m saying, I’m putting onto them what I think they were thinking.

Tucker:
Why, do you think? I’m sure you have no shortage of guys that, when you were single, and probably still now, that approach you-

Carin:
Not really. I’ve been told I have a cold resting face, so I don’t get approached that much.

Tucker:
Even when you were single?

Carin:
I’m not saying I never got approached.

Tucker:
Let’s say compared to your friends.

Carin:
Compared to my friends? My best friend in grad school is very bubbly and extroverted, just happy and smiling and everything. If we were out she would be the one getting approached, even though she’s got a wedding ring on. But she would be the one that guys would totally want to be with and want to talk to, whereas not so much for me.

Geoff:
What do you think guys are thinking when they hear ‘She’s doing her PhD’? The normal feminist gender explanation would be ‘guys are threatened by women’s power, blah blah’. Do you think they’re kind of going ‘I’m not going to be able to seduce her with the usual bullshit. She’ll be able to see through me. It’s too much work. My likelihood of success is too low.’ Or do they feel like ‘I’m just not that smart. She’s going to think I’m kind of a doofus if we converse’. Or some combination of that?

Carin:
I’m sure it’s a combination. I’m sure for different guys it’s different. I mean maybe it’s an idea that if she’s this smart, whatever that means, she’s going to hold me to a higher… I have to be that smart or smarter to feel comfortable, I don’t know. But I would say that the guys who had more education, at least that I found out about, tended to stick around longer. And it seems self-selected, in that I was perfectly fine having a conversation but then as soon as they found out about it they were like ‘I’m out of here’. So there does seem to be they’re imposing. Something they think is wrong, even if it’s not.

Tucker:
So you can think of times you were talking with a guy, and maybe you were into him a bit, or good conversation. And you’re like ‘this guy’s interesting, I’m definitely, whatever’. And then he found out about that and he changed. Nothing changed with you but he’s like ‘alright, err. I’m out of here’?

Carin:
Nothing that abrupt but yeah, we’d be having conversation and he’s find that out and a couple of minutes later, ‘alright I got to go back with my guys’. Something to get out of the conversation.

Tucker:
So the guys you were kind of into. Not being bitchy but normal, cool, fun and caring.

Carin:
Yeah, I don’t know. The cold resting face maybe.

Geoff:
Here’s a follow up question. We did a whole podcast on intelligence, education and how to display intelligence, and I think a lot of guys might make the assumption that ‘If she’s doing a graduate degree I’m not going to be interesting to her unless I have the same educational credential.‘ But if you met, let’s say a plumber, who just got his high school diploma but he was really smart, as smart as a PhD student, read a lot, and is into stuff you’re into. Which is more important, educational credential or natural intelligence and curiosity?

Carin:
Personally, I would say natural intelligence because you can do a lot more with that than you can with a degree, right? I mean, you can get a degree and not be that intelligent and you can be very boring. It wouldn’t be a very exciting relationship. My gut reaction is smarts not degrees.

Tucker:
Did you find that a lot? Guys who were… In your experience meeting guys did degrees match up with intelligence? Not because they have to but because they just do or can you think of guys where you go ‘Oh he was in the military or he was a plumber or an electrician but he was really smart and I was really into him’.

Carin:
I dated a guy for a long time who had, I don’t think he finished his BA, maybe he did. But he was really smart and it was really great.

Tucker:
What did he do? What did he do job wise?

Carin:
He was a sort of paper pusher kind of guy, at an office job, nothing too amazing or whatever but we had the same interests, he read all sorts of things, he was just a very interesting guy. And so we got along great and I had no problem in terms of conversing with him or anything like that. He didn’t need a PhD so there’s definitely that. And I have definitely met people who have PhDs who were not very interesting and not necessarily particularly smart. So to me smart’s way more important than the certificate.

Tucker:
Is this really your first time you’ve done any media or press or interview like this?

Carin:
I’ve done an interview but not like a podcast.

Tucker:
Because you’re like a fucking natural. For real, I’d say she’s if not the best, she’s right up there. I’d say her, Isabelle Behncke and Robert Greene maybe. Or Durant, actually Durant. Her, Isabelle and Duran were the best by far. You’ve really never done this? You’re just rattling shit off like, you’re a natural at this.

Carin:
I’ve been thinking about stuff for the last couple of days. What should I talk about?

Tucker:
Yeah, but, I’m sure you know this stuff. You know it really well but just the way you talk about it and the way you address it. If this is your first one this is shocking because most people are not good at the beginning. It took me a long time before I got to be comfortable doing media, him a long time.

Carin:
Maybe you guys are just really good interviewers?

Tucker:
No. No.

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