If you want to get a little, you should try giving a little. New research from the University of Guelph and Nipissing University shows that people who help others are more desirable to the opposite sex, and have more sexual partners and more frequent sex.
The study was published recently in the British Journal of Psychology.
“This study is the first to show that altruism may translate into real mating success in Western populations, that altruists have more mates than non-altruists,” said Pat Barclay, a U of G psychology professor who worked on the study with lead author Prof. Steven Arnocky from Nipissing.
Arnocky added: “It appears that altruism evolved in our species, in part because it serves as a signal of other underlying desirable qualities, which helps individuals reproduce.”
The researchers interviewed about 800 people about their relationships and propensity for helping others, including giving to charity, donating blood, helping strangers cross the street, donating winnings and helping classmates.
After controlling for age and personality, altruists were found to have greater success in dating and sex.
The study found that while altruism is desirable in both genders, it increases lifetime dating and sex partners for men more than for women.
The findings support previous studies on food sharing by hunters, which found that men who hunt and share meat enjoy greater reproductive success. Earlier, Barclay found that– all else being equal – both men and women are more attracted to altruistic people.
The researchers suggest expanding the study to include a wider array of variables such as relationship length and partner quality.
“Also, given the importance we place on attractiveness, resources and intelligence, it would be worthwhile to explore how individuals ‘trade off’ altruism against other desirable qualities,” Arnocky said.