The Strange Expression Women Are Most Attracted To, According To Research

Why women love a man with RBF.

Last updated on Oct 25, 2023

Woman daydreaming about man peshkov | gmast3r | vitapix | Getty Images

Hey fellas, having a bad day? Turn that frown upside down — unless you're a man in search of a girlfriend, that is. According to a 2011 study from the University of British Columbia, women are more attracted to brooding men than to smiling ones.

Finally, a perfect explanation for why bad boys (or guys who look the part) make us swoon.

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No surprises there, considering just how popular famously moody fictional characters like Edward Rochester, Mr. Darcy, and Edward Cullen from Twilight are. That's one more point for bad boys in the ongoing nice guy versus bad boy battle.

Lead researcher Professor Jessica Tracy stated that "'Men and women respond very differently to displays of emotion, including smiles.'" She even went on to suggest that our culture and environment influence what we find sexually attractive. This means that women find confident men more attractive because it's in our genes.

How crazy is that? So our brain pretty much translates a confident guy as a competent partner.


Ironically, the male participants thought that women who smiled were more attractive than women who displayed confidence and pride. What a shocker, right? Now we know why some guys (who are total strangers, by the way) have no problem saying that we should smile. The RBF is om.

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All stereotypes aside, this study is supposedly the first to report a gender difference in perceived attractiveness of smiling, pride, and shame.

To test their ideas, researchers showed a thousand adults an array of photographs of the opposite sex. Images depicted men and women grinning broadly, raising their heads, and lowering their eyes, which are universal expressions of happiness, pride, and shame, respectively.


They even shared that the results basically reflected "traditional gender norms...that have emerged, developed and been reinforced through history." So once again, history repeats itself!

While these findings might be slightly upsetting to people who don't embody the aforementioned stereotypes, the study's authors point out that their research is more concerned with first impressions than with what makes someone a better life partner.

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The participants' reactions were completely emotionally charged and had nothing to do with traits that can affect someone's vibe, like intelligence or a sense of humor.


Despite what their study showed, the authors continue emphasizing how research points to optimism and a nice personality as highly sought-after traits in relationship partners.

If anything, this research says more about culturally reinforced gender roles than about what we actually value in another person. Yes, the strong and silent type can make a guy instantly hotter, but it won't hold a woman's attention if it's not accompanied by something more substantial, like kindness.

RELATED: What Women Really Want In A Relationship


Denise Ngo is a freelance web writer and editor specializing in love, dating, and relationships. She is the Managing Editor of Loverish and a writer for PopSci.