What do women want? This question has puzzled men since the dawn of time—or at least 8th grade. Soon after you discovered ladies, you discovered they are bizarre and irrational creatures whose vagaries cannot be easily explained. Women’s magazines don’t help—they just cover what women think they want. But maybe science can. Around the world, Ph.D.s and M.D.s have been creating an empirical, quantitative and entirely different list of qualities and behaviors that make girls go ga-ga. (Note: wondering what the lab coats are saying about us? Check out our girlfriend The Frisky‘s 14 Things Science Says Guys Love.) No, this list doesn’t include “sense of humor.” More like…


1. Not Smiling

Is it really possible to brood whilst wearing red shoes? Just sayin’. 

A University of British Columbia study found that women are least attracted to a guy with a grin. Scientists aren’t really sure why smiles are such a turn-off among the double-X-chromosomal set, but they think it has something to do with our primate ancestry. Among non-human primates, the smile is a fear grimace and symbol of submission, or what researchers call “total deal breakers.” What does get women’s attention? Loud and proud alpha males or dark and brooding fellas. Which would be great news for men with depression… if their unhappiness weren’t due to a chemical imbalance in the brain.

2. Average Looks

Wait till Darlene finds out about this!

Evolution, while causing women to get hotter and hotter, is putting the breaks on male attractiveness. Previously, researchers thought that predators were responsible because they targeted, say, the peacocks with the prettiest feathers. But a University of Texas study found that while predators do prefer male animals with the flashiest secondary sex characteristics, this did not play a significant role in eliminating them. Rather, female animals purposefully avoid male partners who are too good looking. Perhaps they don’t want to mate with the males who are most likely to be eaten. Or perhaps, like human females, they want all eyes on them when they walk into the party.

3. Resembling Their Dads

Clearly, Brad Pitt is all wrong for her.

A University of St. Andrews survey asked 400 women in relationships who had been raised by both parents about the hair and eye color of their partner and dear old dad. Women overwhelming had partners who matched their father. Meanwhile, researchers at the muscularly named University of Pécs in Hungary found that it was also more subtle features, like the shape of the face. Same goes for guys and their mothers, by the way. Apparently, characteristics of the opposite-gender parent are imprinted on the brain at an early age and never really leave you. This may partially explain why women are attracted to older guys. And it’s great news if you happen to look like Jon Voight.

4. Femininity

Just when you thought there was nothing douchier than Kanye’s shutter shades

A study from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland might explain why ladies love Bieber. Researchers showed female subjects two photos of the same man, with subtle differences. One would have a narrower jaw and rounder eyes, traditionally more feminine features, while the other would be all man. The results? Sorry, square jaws of the world. Ladies prefer more ladylike dudes. Bonus twist? All other things being equal, in countries with poorer overall health, women prefer more masculine men, while in places with stronger health indicators, women favor girly men. Researchers believe women see a manly man as a better reproductive mate. But here in the first world, they have the luxury of caring about things like the fact that manly men are harder to get along with. Science!

5. Dancing Ability

Now that we look at it, that suit is actually kinda sweet.

Not pulling at the bar? You’re probably relying way too much on your sterling personality. What you need to do is get out there and dance. At least that’s what researchers at Northumbria’s School of Life Sciences found. They believe women look at your dancing skills as a measure of your overall health and strength, as well as fitness for, ahem, mating. The best way to dance? Like the King, Elvis Presley. The study found that you’ve got to really gyrate your neck and trunk to win female attention. Researchers—and we swear we’re not making this up—recommend that you learn to salsa and tango for best results.

6. Homosexuality

“You don’t love me. You just love my moustache. And my studded armband, of course.”

Meredith Chivers, a researcher at Queen’s College in Kingston, Ontario wanted to know what actually turns people on, as opposed to what they claim turns them on. So attached arousal sensors to women’s naughty bits and showed them some movies: straight sex, gay sex, solo sex and chimp sex. While women claimed they weren’t turned on by man-on-man action, the sensors told another tale. Indeed, women—both hetero and lesbian—were significantly more aroused by gay porn than they reported. We’re not really sure what you can do with this information, other than watch out for your girl around your gay friends.

7. Red Clothing

“This ain’t just my catchin’ vest. It’s my lady-catchin’ vest.”

When shopping for something to wear to the club, you probably know to skip the Ed Hardy. But a study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General found that even more than a sense of humor, women are attracted to guys in red. The concept was pretty simple: participants ranked photos of people based on their desire to kiss or date them, as well as overall likeability. When just looking at these sex and romance-related factors, researchers found that guys in red scored higher. (No similar effect was seen in men looking at photos of women.) The finding held true across disparate cultures from Japan to the States, and researchers attribute it to the perception of red as a marker of high status. Our theory? Deep down, all women love the Kool-Aid Man.

8. Width, Not Length

Q: Is it possible to write a caption for this photo without saying”MY SALAMI IS DEES AH-BIG…”? A: No.

It’s time to get over the length of your John Thomas; science says it’s all about width. More research from those intrepid sexologists at the University of Texas found that 90 percent of women say that a, um, girthier package is better than a longer one. The finding calls into question a previous Masters and Johnson study that concluded penis size has no psychological effect on female enjoyment of sex. We’re going to go out on a limb and suggest that the guy behind that study wasn’t exactly hung like Secretariat. Just a hunch.