Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Brainy is the new sexy

There is a psychological study (The Pratfall Effect) that I’ve never been able to get out of my mind.  The study concludes that people are drawn to individuals who are (a) attractive (b) are competent and (c) have visible flaws.  Basically if you saw a hot girl at coffee shop you’d be attracted to her.  If that same girl dropped a cup of coffee in front of you you’d be even MORE attracted to her.  You will find her minor faux pas endearing.  She will seem more accessible.  You will become more comfortable.  On some level women get this intuitively.  This is why I’ve met hundreds of Jessica Simpson wannabes who like to display their foibles on purpose.  They pout with puppy dog eyes that they can’t figure out how to use a remote control. They’re trying to get you to love them, flaws and all.  And most men fall hook, line and sinker.  Who doesn’t want to be a hero to a fragile creature?  (Especially if they’re blonde and busty).  There is something undeniably adorable to men about this. Granted, I’ll say “certain men” because I know a few for whom it would annoy the shit out of them.  These are the guys who put a premium on intelligence.

But back to our Jessica Simpsons … I believe that there is something kind of sad about a grown woman who can maintain a professional career but can’t figure out how to use a remote.  If you’re not technically savvy, fine. Some remotes are over engineered. But if you have the means to figure it out and you pretend you don’t … well that’s just sad.  My mom had a good friend who called her husband to come meet her at a gas station because her tank was suddenly on empty.  Her husband left work and met her about 30 minutes away because she did not know how to pump her own gas.  It boggles my mind that a woman in her early 30s could drive to work every day and not have the desire to figure out a skill that is basic to adulthood. And furthermore, that she relied on her husband to swoop in like prince charming and save the day.  It’s a manufactured damsel in distress situation. 

I really hope to live in a world where women strive for self sufficiency.  Where women feel encouraged to show their competency to the opposite sex.  Where the easy route is less elusive.  Where no one downplays what they have to offer. Because trust me, we all have foibles.  We’re all going to drop the coffee.  It’s just far more endearing when it’s real and not manufactured.


  1. i was interested in this study as well - after reading it, i realized how true it was. and we will inevitably spill the coffee, or probably in our cases, we spill the wine... :)

  2. I hate stupid people, regardless of gender.

  3. hmmm...I'm not that bad, but I do admit to being blonde and using it to my advantage.
    To be honest, I REALLY don't get things! Or it is something that kinda went in one ear out the other kinda thing. I know there are things that I need to work on, but honestly, it seems kinda overwhelming at times.

    For the record: I can pump my own gas and I love figuring out technology.

  4. Ditz = easy, at least that seems the thinking behind that. Like most things, I think there has to be a balance and ppl should not pretend to be something they aren't. That said, we all have moments :)

  5. These are the guys who put a premium on intelligence.

    These are the kinds of women I'm attracted to: my last (and first major) girlfriend got her TWO undergrad degrees in physics and engineering from an Ivy League school and is getting a PhD in materials science from one of the top rated programs in the country. The girl I'm currently trying to date is finishing a BS in chemistry and is now trying to decide between a chem PhD, an MBA or law school (and she'll ace whichever of those she chooses).

    My ex was a waif and couldn't drive when I first met her (we're not from a place where that's normal), and I'd never have noticed the current girl if she weren't a total klutz who unable to deal with snow or ice in any form (southern girl living in the UMW...) and who's prone to laughing fits that are unstoppable and make everyone around her who doesn't know her fear for her life.

    Bottom line: I *am* one of those guys who puts a premium on intelligence, and even so I'm attracted by the flaws. Who really wants to be around someone perfect?