But when his score was lower than hers, the study showed, he was likely to feel less attracted to her, less masculine himself, and less interested in getting her contact information or going on a date with her. Park is quick to clarify that previous research has shown that men are attracted to female intelligence; in fact, it’s one of the strongest predictors of romantic interest.
It’s when men have the sense of being outperformed, she says, that “things get tricky in real life.” The finding jibes with previous research, including a Columbia University speed-dating experiment in which single guys valued female smarts—but only up to a point.
In Ratliff’s study, they distanced themselves from their partner and were less optimistic about their future together.
Asked to reflect on a girlfriend’s failures, however, their self-esteem increased, as did their perceived odds of being together in the longterm.
(Female self-esteem, meanwhile, was unaffected by a partner’s success.) Not every fellow has the confidence of actor George Clooney, who calls his wife Amal, an accomplished international lawyer, his intellectual superior and himself her “arm candy.” Men often feel they need to defend their status as competent and competitive, Park explains, and being outperformed is a threat.
We can attribute this to traditional gender roles, biology, and evolutionary biases that favor aggression and rivalry.
He could achieve this, she says, by taking pride in his partner’s abilities and being happy for her successes—an attitude known as the “empathy response.” He could think of their skills as complementary: “She excels in domain A, whereas I excel in domain B.” Or he could focus on how his partner’s intelligence might benefit him or their life together in a variety of ways, like a better job that boosts them financially.
He said that when he first met me, he found me intimidating. I don’t know where his comment came from or what made him say it, but it did stick with me.
I'm not so sure about that because if you've met me, you would know that I am all smiles - unless I haven't had my cup of coffee. It opened up a whole conversation about how men and women have different levels of communication and sometimes we give off different vibes, which can be misinterpreted as having an ego and being aggressive?
A study based at the University of Toronto used the familiar setup in which men (and women) are told that their real-life significant other scored higher on an intelligence test.
This time, they had to rate their degree of closeness to their partner beforehand, as well as afterward, which made them reflect on the warmth and affection they felt for each other.