NEXT time a man throws you an admiring glance, he’s probably just heard the intelligent things you’ve been saying.
Many women will find it hard to believe, but new research suggests men increasingly value intellect and character in a partner over a shapely figure.
Apparently, traditional wifely skills such as being a good cook are also becoming less important to modern men, British scientists claim.
Brains over beauty: Men are more attracted to intelligence than beauty when looking for a partner
They say in Western societies where men and women are equal, interest in a woman’s appearance is in decline.
However, women now tend to be more interested in a man’s looks than before, and less preoccupied by their wealth as they are able to depend on themselves financially.
Dr Marcel Zentner, a psychologist at York University, said: ‘We found in societies like Britain, or especially in Scandinavia, men place increasing value on other qualities, like intelligence, rather than curvy figures or skill at cooking’.
But he added: ‘Traditionally, women prefer wealthy men who have an ability to invest resources in any children.
'What we found was that as women because more equal, this preference declines, but men’s looks become much more important.’
His team surveyed 12,000 people in more than 30 countries asking them to describe which traits they most valued in a potential partner.
They tallied the results to the country’s ranking on gender equality, from the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index which looks at educational opportunities, health and political empowerment.
Looks aren't everything: Research reveals men in Western societies are less interested in a woman's appearance
Those who scored the highest for gender inequality went for traditional evolutionary traits.
Men went for cooking and a curvy figure, which indicates fertility, while women chose men who can provide materially for a family.
But in the more equal societies, there was a change in attitude – contradicting the common view that our mate choices are ‘hard wired’ in our brains, suggest the British scientists in an article published in journal Psychological Science.
Opposites attract: While men are less interested in how women look, more women are placing emphasis on their male partner's appearance
Dr Zentner told the Sunday Times that while Western societies have not reversed towards a culture of trophy husbands and female bread-winners, there had been a noticeable ‘shift in emphasis’.
He said: ‘These findings challenge the idea proposed by some evolutionary psychologists that gender differences in mate-preferences are determined by evolved adaptations that became biologically embedded in the male and female brain.
‘Our study suggests that increases in gender equality in the society around us can also change the way we think about the opposite sex.
'Men can relax about having to build up wealth, but may benefit from looking after their looks a little more.’
The Gender Gap Index, which covers 135 countries, shows Iceland is the best place to be a working woman.
The UK is 16th - behind most of Europe but ahead of the US and Canada.
Figures earlier this year revealed that the number of British househusbands has tripled over the past 15 years.
More than 62,000 men whose partners go out to work were classified as ‘economically inactive’ last year compared with 21,000 in 1996, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.
Another survey found there are 1.4million men in the UK whose main role is to be the primary carer for their children.
Women are also doing better in IQ tests than men, and receive 58 per cent of undergraduate degrees.
Sign of intelligence: Women receive 58 per cent of undergraduate degrees
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