A sense of humor is nice. Deep pockets are nice too. But when it comes to picking the ideal partner, a few laughs and overpriced tapas on the reg aren't what we want the most.

New research in the Journal of Personality asked over 2,700 college students from around the globe to "design" their ideal mate by choosing the amount they would "spend" on each of eight characteristics from a fixed budget. 

The study found that kindness was the characteristic people value most in a mate.

But before you go and cancel your gym membership because it's finally been proven that nice guys don't finish last (regardless of their body fat percentage), consider that the number two characteristic respondents were willing to spend on was physical attractiveness.

And don't quit your day job, either, because good financial prospects comes in third out of eight. 

The remaining five characteristics that didn't make the top three are humor, chastity, religiosity, the desire for children, and creativity. 

We appear to value creativity and chastity the least, while having a middling interest in laughs, kids, and religion, according to the study's model. 

The research also finds that there are perhaps some nuggets of truth in unfortunate, old stereotypes: men were shown to value physical attractiveness more than women, while women placed a higher value on strong financial prospects. 

Lead researcher Dr. Andrew G. Thomas, of Swansea University in the U.K., noted there were differences, as well as remarkable similarities, between students from "Eastern" countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong, and "Western" students from places like the United States, Norway, and Australia.

"Looking at very different culture groups allows us to test the idea that some behaviors are human universals," Thomas said. "If men and women act in a similar way across the globe, then this adds weight to the idea that some behaviors develop in spite of culture rather than because of it."

And the key takeaway is something most of us learn at a very young age, regardless of where we grew up: just play nice. 

Published on: Sep 23, 2019
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