Male and female friends experience differing levels of attraction
Males are more likely to be attracted to their female friends than females are to their male friends, a study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships reports.
The researcher team, led by April Bleske-Rechek, reached itsresults after combining answers from three separate studies. Its found that men are more likely to be attracted to their female friends, while females are more likely to see males as just friends.
“I agree. I feel like girls are pickier. They just have more checkpoints that make them attracted to the guy or make them think, ‘Yeah I’m attracted to the guy,’” Carly Horvath, a communications major, said. “Guys are more instant—they see a girl and they decide on the spot if you want to date them or not. Girls are like, ‘Yeah, he’s this, but he’s also that.’”
The researchers state that because many relationships start as friendships, and that both genders often report feeling attracted to each other, it can be hard for males and females to say that their relationships are purely platonic.
The subjects of all three studies were college students who attended western universities between 2013 and 2015, with the mean age of about 20 years old. In the first study, researchers approached 40 pairs of students eating lunch at the university student union. The pairs, which consisted of a male and a female, were given a questionnaire that asked them to rate their own and their partner’s attractiveness and personality on a scale of one to seven. At the end of the survey, each member of each pair had to define his or her relationship status to his or her partner as a friendship, romantic relationship or other.
The results showed that 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women reported some attraction to the people with which they were paired with. Similarly, 23 percent of women and 8 percent of men claimed that they were not attracted to their partners. However, the researchers noted that these differences were not as pronounced as they were in previous studies.
The structure of the second study was similar to that of the first. At the end of the questionnaire, however, participants were asked to rate the attractiveness of their partners by picking one of the pre-defined options. These included acquaintances, casual friends, close friends, romantic partners, roommates, relatives and other.
Similar to the first study, 62 percent of men and 45 percent of women reported that they were moderately attracted to their partners, if not more. However, the gap between males’ and females’ lack of attraction was much smaller, with 23 percent of women and 21 percent of men reporting that they were not attracted to their partners.
The researchers believe that the gap shrunk because of the setting of where the students were found.
“The ‘friends’ that men and women find themselves with at any given time may not be the same friends who come to mind when they are asked to think of an opposite-sex friend,” the study states.
Thus, for the third study, researchers scouted their subjects on social networks. After finding a male or a female, they randomly asked them to either “think of an opposite-sex friend” or to “think of an opposite-sex friend who is not a family member or current romantic partner.” Next, the subjects were asked to describe whether the person they named was a friend or someone to whom they were physically attracted to. Lastly, the subjects were asked for their age, relationship status, sex and sexual orientation.
For both questions, women were more likely to characterize the person they thought of as a friend. Meanwhile, men were more likely to characterize the person as someone to whom they were attracted.
“Men more often mentally define an opposite-sex friend as ‘a member of the opposite sex to whom I am attracted and would pursue given the opportunity’ and women more often define an opposite-sex friend as ‘a friend of the opposite sex,’” the researchers concluded.
Christina Russo, a junior majoring in art administration, did not agree with the results of the study.
“In my experience, it seems to be that men just voice it more publicly than women. However—again, just in my experience as a woman who mainly has female friends—there is definitely strong physical or sexual attraction toward men from women that gets spoken about mainly among friend groups,” Russo said.
The study sheds light on relationships between males and females. However, it does have its limitations, as the three studies focused on physical and sexual attractiveness. Thus, it might be interesting to discover whether researchers would reach similar conclusions when researching romantic attractiveness.