Spin a good yarn?
Salman Rushdie with former wife, Padma Lakshmi.
Seduce my mind and you can have my body, wrote M.D Waters in her novel, Archetype.
Turns out there is truth to this – for women, at least.
A new study by psychology researchers from the University of North Carolina has found that the ability to spin a good yarn makes men more attractive. It also improves their status, in the eyes of women.
Conversely, women’s storytelling abilities did not affect the men’s perception of her attractiveness as a potential partner.
“Telling stories is a universal human activity, and effective storytellers can bring about comfort, joy, and excitement to their audiences,” wrote lead researcher, John Donahue.
It was this ability to evoke positive states in others that makes storytelling an attractive quality, Donahue explained.
In three separate studies, men who were supposedly good storytellers were rated as being more attractive short and long-term mates. Participants also rated good storytellers as having positive personality traits, including intelligence, prestige, ambition, dominance and sense of humour.
Good female storytellers were considered more intelligent but were not rated as more physically attractive or a more appealing partner.
“Evolutionary psychologists generally follow a distinction in women’s attraction to men between the traits that indicate ‘good genes’ and the traits of a ‘good dad’ – the latter was suggested as the basis for storytelling ability being a positive evolutionary trait,” Donahue hypothesised.
“The fact that storytelling ability was not valued for both men and women, but only for women alone and primarily for long-term relationships, suggested that women desire a “good dad” and that storytelling ability reflects a man’s having the potential to gain resources.
“Beyond the idea that women are attracted to a man who is a ‘good dad’ (one who can provide tangible resources) the results… may imply that women actually instead prefer a man of high status (who presumably could gain resources through his talents or position).”
Donahue says that further studies needs to be done to understand whether other skills (like cooking or artistic talent) also make for a more attractive partner, but his findings adds to a body of research that has found that looks are less important to women than other qualities.
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