in: People, Podcast, Relationships

• Last updated: September 27, 2021

Art of Manliness Podcast #45: Mating Intelligence with Drs. Glenn Geher and Scott Barry Kaufman

Welcome back to another edition of the Art of Manliness Podcast!

In today’s episode we discuss mating intelligence with the authors of a new book on the subject. Drs. Glen Geher and Scott Barry Kaufman are psychologists and the authors of the book Mating Intelligence Unleashed: The Role of the Mind in Sex, Dating, and LoveTheir book takes a look at cutting edge research from evolutionary psychology, intelligence, creativity, personality, social psychology, and neuroscience to show what men and women find attractive in one another and what we can all do to increase our mating intelligence in order to have more success in forming and maintaining relationships. 

Mating Intelligence by Glenn and Scott Barry Kaufman, book cover.

Highlights from the show include:

  • What men and women find attractive in one another
  • The number one thing women find attractive in a man (it’s not what you think it is)
  • The difference between short-term and long-term dating strategies
  • How sharing a passion for a hobby can make your long-term relationship stronger
  • The differing mating strategies of men and women
  • How the Pill changes what women find attractive in a man
  • The difference between prestige and dominance and what women find attractive
  • Do Pick-up Artist techniques really work?
  • The positives and negatives of technology on mating intelligence

Mating Intelligence Unleashed is a great read. Super interesting dating advice that’s actually backed up by science instead of hype. Definitely recommend picking it up.

I also recommend checking out Scott’s blog on creativity, The Creativity Post (it’s one of my new favorite websites), as well as Glenn’s collection of articles on evolutionary psychology.

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Read the Transcript

Brett McKay: Brett McKay here, and welcome to another edition of The Art of Manliness podcast.

Well, today we are talking Mating Intelligence. What is mating intelligence you might be asking. Well, it’s basically the skills and know how that you need to have in order to successfully navigate romantic relationships.

Our guests today have recently published a book on this topic. They are two psychologists, Dr. Glenn Geher and Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman. Their book is Mating Intelligence Unleashed: The Role of the Mind in Sex, Dating, and Love. We are going to about the research that they highlight in their book that shows what man and woman find attractive in one another and what you can do to be more attractive to someone of the opposite sex. The surprising thing is there is more to it than physical attractiveness. We are going to talk about those things. So listen in.

All right, Scott, Glenn thank you so much for joining us on The Art of Manliness podcast.

Glenn Geher: Yeah, thanks for having us, Brett.

Brett McKay: All right. Glenn, this question is for you. Let’s start-off with what is mating intelligence, because I’ve heard of emotional intelligence and then I’m starting to hear about social intelligence and the different skills and knowledge that constitute that sort of intelligence, but what skills and knowledge constitute mating intelligence?

Glenn Geher: I think it’s a very good beginning question. It really speaks to sort of what we are doing with this book and what the idea is about. When you look at the history of intelligence research, for a long time it was really just about cognitive processing. So things like math ability, verbal abilities, written comprehension, complex problem solving kinds of things. And at some point, I would say maybe in about the sixties or seventies, people started looking at different kinds of intelligence. There’s a lot more to who we are than just our cognitive processing. There was a movement by several folks and at that point. When I was a graduate student in University of New Hampshire in 1990s I work with Jack Meyer. Jack along with Peter Salovey who is at Yale created the idea of emotional intelligence which became a huge idea in psychology and it really captivated people partly because it’s a great idea, partly because it underscores how important emotions are for us and partly because it made people who were good people who were god at doing stuff but never did well in intelligence tasks, say you know what, maybe it doesn’t matter that much, maybe my emotional intelligence or my ability go get along with others is really the core element of my success, maybe that’s what I should be cultivating in myself.

So, I did research on that with Jack years ago. Then I got very interested in evolutionary psychology and relationships from an evolutionary perspective, which we call human mating. Pretty much looking at relationships, the way that a biologist would look at mating behaviors in natural world in non-human species and research on human mating has really become huge so we understand what are the causes of physical attractiveness, what are the causes of jealousy, what are the causes of success in relationships, of non-success, what’s the difference between short versus long-term mating, all these different kinds of things. I got very immersed in that field and suddenly realized that the same insight Meyer and Salovey had early on about emotional research not being connected with intelligence. I had the same insight essentially about mating that mating psychology is the juggernaut and psychology, it’s a huge body of research as is intelligence and no one had ever really connected this before. So, I worked with Geoffrey Miller who is a psychologist at the University of New Mexico to do, I mean edited book on this topic. We started seeing that it was just fertile ground. This was a great area. If you are young psychological researcher there’s so much that you can look at and then I found Scott pretty soon in the process. We started developing ways to measure mating intelligence.

But to get back to your specific question of what is mating intelligence, it’s essentially the cognitive processes that relate to relationship and mating psychology. So, when we are thinking about ourselves in a mating context, how do you rate your own mate value, how do you assess the mate values of others, how do you detect honesty versus deception in the mating domain and all these kinds of cognitive decisions comprised what we called mating intelligence.

Brett McKay: Awesome. So Scott, Glenn kind of touched on this a little bit on some of the sciences that are involved with mating intelligence for the research. Can you talk a little more about the research that’s involved or the branches of science that’s involved that you guys looked to for your insights that you talked about in mating intelligence.

Scott Barry: Sure. Glenn and I met each other in about 2005-2006. I think that our research interests had complement each other well and made this book and this construct all the richer because I was primarily interested in creativity and intelligence traditionally defined. You know this IQ aspect, what is that, but also was interested in artistic displays of creativity and all the various ways that we can display our creativity. What I heard about this mating intelligence construct and then I read the Mating Mind by Geoffrey Miller which is a really key book that I recommend to all your readers if they are interested in this topic in addition to reading our book, is that this displays of creativity and displays of our personality were constantly signaling to others who we are and our underlining traits, underlining genes which is all very important for me ultimate Darwinian reproductive perspective. What’s the likelihood we are going to pass on somebody’s traits to our children, what’s the extent which is going to allow them to survive and attract mates themselves. So in doing that you can cast an understanding what their sexy traits are, you can cast a very broad net that goes far beyond physical attraction. Two things like creativity, humor, personality. We differ in lots of dimensions of personality and each one of them impacts our mating success.

Two, we’ve discussed the book called Life-History Strategy was also really important relevance that is the extent to which live sort of the fast life, are you very impulsive, are you interested in quantity over quality of mates, do you look more to slow life. These are actual biological sources of variation that you see in lots of other animals. There’s a lot of continuity with other species and things. All these things impact and all these aspects of psychology play a role in understanding mating intelligence.

Brett McKay: Awesome. So it sounds like there is biology, you are looking to psychology and then evolutionary psychology. I’m sure for somebody who has never heard of evolutionary psychology. Can you guys kind of give the cliff notes version of that, I think a lot of people are familiar with biological…

Scott Barry: Like evolution…

Brett McKay: Yeah but not psychology.

Scott Barry: I have been teaching in a course titled Evolutionary Psychology here at SUNY New Paltz for about a decade now. I think you are right that a lot of people don’t really know what it is and the phrase is something that doesn’t necessarily capture what it is to people who want to hear about it. So, I guess I will give you the cliff notes version.

The way that I put it, the short version is that evolutionary psychology is the idea that human behavior is part of the natural world. So that’s kind of just to think about a very brief version of what is an evolutionary psychologist. Someone who is studying human behavior understanding that human behavior just like the human body, just like the bodies of other organisms and other animals all result from Darwinian forces such as sexual and natural selection. And when we think about those basic Darwinian forces, what they do is they facilitate replication of certain forms. So, a very short version of evolution is that evolution is a process by which some forms are more likely to be replicated or compared with others. So we can think of the evolution of life, we can think of finch with a certain beak in the Galapagos as being more likely to survive and reproduce and pass on that trait compared with other forms. Or we can think of anything, anytime there is competition… compared with others, forms that replicated, form that get themselves into the future will be more likely to exist in the future by definition compared to the alternative forms applied to psychology. It essential says that psychological processes and behavioral patterns of a species like ours that came about by evolution largely serve the function of facilitating…

So we can think about like some basic findings that’s been found in evolutionary psychology. Man tend to find women with a curvy, what they called a 0.7 waist to hip ratio relatively attractive. It turns out that that preference for that waist to hip ratio is cross-cultural. It’s been documented across different cultures. It’s easy for people to reliably make a determination, quickly make a determination on attraction. There’s research showing that judgment seems to be delivered in certain parts of the brain so this is Steve Radack has documented that particular finding. And on the other side, it’s related to fertility. So, women that have that relatively curvy waist to hip ratio are more likely to be in their fertile years. So that ratio after puberty you tend to see the curves with menopause, the curves tend to go away. So it’s related to hormones. It is related to actual fertility.

Within a fertile pollution women that have that waist to hip ratio are close to it or more likely to be able to get pregnant, they are less likely to have pregnancy related complications. That mating preference on the part of males that seems to be evolved, that seems to be cross-cultural that psychology preference maps on to something that facilitates reproductive success. And so it’s that fit between psychological qualities on the one hand and how they ultimately serve as a tool to get genes into the future on the other. This is sort of the very basic idea of evolutionary psychology.

Brett McKay: Interesting. So you are talking about some of the physical attributes right? For men being attracted to women there is that ratio. You also mentioned in the book about new hair like the type of hair a woman has, the shape of her eyes, because all those things indicate age whether they are fertile or not. And then with women being attracted men, sort of a stereotypical things like tall, dark and handsome right is that sort of the…

Glenn Geher: Yeah, I would say that’s partly it. There’s also a lot more than just the physical. I think one of the things we are trying to do in our book is we summarize that research on physical qualities that are attractive. We go through the evolutionary reasoning of why those qualities in men and women are attractive about how the attributes and social attributes that are also attractive and that maybe just as critical in helping people find and secure strong and solid mates for themselves.

Brett McKay: So, Scott, that’s kind of where you came in too. You are an expert in creativity and you talked about how creativity is one of those attributes that both men and women find attractive in each other. You actually argue in the book that things like art and music were sort of developed or we evolved those things to attract mates, right?

Scott Barry: Yeah, absolutely. I have been conducting some research for my colleagues on this topic even since the book has been released. I have been working on some papers that’s making me more and more confident. Obviously, in science you never get the truth but you are always getting either support for something or not support for something. But I’m starting to realize that the sexiness aspect of the arts and like displays of creativity like entertainers like Mick Jagger you know the stereotypical people who get lots and lots of mates is the emotions that they are eliciting from the perceiver.

We did a study on where we had people rates a whole bunch of creative behaviors just simply say how sexy do you find this behavior like how likely would you be to have sex with this person if they show this behavior. We gave them a whole gamut of behaviors. We found a ranking literally from the aspects like it’s actually the number, do you want to know the number one sexiest behavior was. It actually shocked us a little bit.

Brett McKay: What’s that?

Scott Barry: I took my date on a spontaneous road trip. I think that’s really interesting. We won’t expect…

Glenn Geher: Got a doubt.

Scott Barry: Number 1, I think there is some telling about that because all of them want at the top, by the way men and women, there is a 100 percent overlap in the top five that both males and females agreed that. So the thing which is common seemed to be the extent to which spontaneity was a key aspect of it. Okay, so not like I deliberately planned but more of I sort of let myself go emotionally with this but also there are things like I sang in a band, I record great music, so obviously music was one of them, but expression like paint, things of that nature. But we are arguing the thing that kind of makes all of the thing that binds all together is these are the things that you make some sort of connection with the other person with the perceiver. You are also displaying that you have some sort of skill or trait or talent that does have a generic basis and that can be passed on. It’s a very subconscious level you’re being drawn to this to a certain extent because your genes are screaming oh, I’m going to have a child who is also going to be able to do world class or like this. That makes sense.

Brett McKay: Yeah, it does make sense. This raises a question too. When you are talking about attraction, is this short-term attraction or is this long-term attraction? I know that this was a theme throughout the book that both men and women have different mating strategies. They are thinking short-term and long-term. So is this creativity like going after the guy, the lead singer in the band. Women find that sort of thing attractive for like short-term fling or is that they see that guy and that guy would be a great dad because when I think of Mick Jagger, I don’t think him like the player gone in fatherhood but he is by all measures from what I’ve heard is he is an attractive guy, not so much anymore but he was in his prime right?

Scott Barry: You ask a great question. All the research that’s been conducted, most of the research that has been conducted to date shows that artistic success predicts number of sexual partners within the last 12 months. That’s what I found with Maloney Desar and James Kaufman. But there is also the higher scale, being more like there are a number of sexual partners certainly the current theme was number of sexual partners. However, James Kaufman as I understood found that passion, sustaining passionate relationship and mutual creativity did predict the length of relationship. I think the nature of the creativity changes from more of the swing aspect to more of a mutual sort of engagement in it. But I think there’s a different flavor, creativity is the flavor for short-term and long-term.

Brett McKay: Interesting. Let’s talk a little bit more about the long-term, short-term. So do men and women have similar or different long-term, short-term strategies, are they about the same?

Scott Barry: That’s a really controversial topic.

Glenn Geher: Yeah, it’s a controversial topic. One of our collaborators and close friends Justin Garcia has a very specific answer to that. What he will say is that and his research kind of supports this that females don’t really have a short-term mating strategy that when we see, it’s a controversial idea but I guess I will compartmentalize talking about females first.

When we look at female mating strategies, when women do engage in short-term mating or one night fling or dress promiscuously looking for what looks to us like short-term mating. There’s interesting research suggesting that that very commonly is something of a I guess a ploy to try to turn into a long-term mateship. So, the hooking up research that Justin has done, Maloney Hill in my department and I have collaborated with him along with several other folks but it essentially is like have you hooked up, describe the hook up, what kind of activities did you do on your hook up, what do you think it was going to lead you, what were you expecting to get out of it. One of the most intriguing things is that both men and women actually were more likely than expected to say I was hoping to actually date the person, I hoping it was going to last. But about 70 or 80 percent of women will say that. So, what looks like a short-term mating strategy for females sometime may actually be a part of an alternative route to a long-term mating strategy.

For males we definitely can compartmentalize when you ask a man who are you looking for in a short-term fling versus what are you looking for in a wife. You do get very different kinds of answers. You do tend to see that looks kind of always matter but in a short-term fling looks matter a bit more, things like emotional stability matter a lot more in a long-term relationship not so much in a short-term relationship. So, there’s definitely discrepancy there but it does seem to look a little bit differently for males and females.

Additionally, there is the effect of ovulation which is obviously primarily a female endeavor. When females are at peak ovulation and there’s just a landslide of research coming out on the effects of the ovulatory cycle. When females are at peak ovulation they are very different than when they are in other parts of their cycle. A lot of this speaks to mating strategies. They are more like to initiate sexual relations, they are more likely to show sexual signals. If they are dancing, there has been a research on dance club as they move more, they dance more, they dress more provocatively. There’s one study that was done where they had a graph paper with like a little silhouette of a dress or a body and said draw the dress you are going to wear tonight. Women who are at peak ovulation drew clothes that were so small that the number of boxes on the graph paper was much fewer than the number of boxes for the woman who is not ovulating. So ovulation seems to be a major factor that seems to play into female psychology.

Interestingly, when we talk about this in the book it ends up having effects on male psychology as well sort of as a result. So men seem to be unconsciously be able to detect aspects of ovulation. When a woman is ovulating man responds them differently. Men rate their voices as more attractive, men rate their scent as more attractive and men will rate they were more physically attractive in terms of both their face and their body. So, that seems to be an important factor that seems to effect both male and female mating strategies.

Scott Barry: Can I add something real quick?

Brett McKay: Yeah, go ahead.

Scott Barry: Some cutting-edge research has come out very recently showing that vice versa both men and women can smell the personality, certain personality traits in the opposite sex and it’s most pronounced when they are smelling the used T-shirts of an opposite sex suggesting there is some sort of mating aspect of this, particularly traits which is dominance and neuroticism and extraversion can be smelled.

Brett McKay: Interesting. Do you guys know is there any research on how hormonal birth control has affected that sort of stuff because I think I’ve read somewhere that because when women are in birth control like the pill they don’t find masculine faces as attractive. They find more like boyish looking or feminine faces more attractive than say the masculine faces. Is there something to it?

Glenn Geher: I got to jump in there just because my graduate student, Rebecca Newmark, who is studying exactly that topic just finished data collection on about 600 women and just start analyzing data this week. She came to my office very excited the other day. We have a lot of analysis to do, but I will give you her hypothesis. I will give you some of the brief analysis. I hope Rebecca is going to be okay with me divulging some of that here, but there’s so much research, Brett, triangulates that kind of points toward this idea that women on hormonal contraception are different in a lot of ways than other women. The research has kind of been piecemeal kind of showing they are different in this venue; they are different in this area. What she is doing is giving out a measure of are you on hormonal contraception or not, if you are what kind, so she is measuring the different kinds and she is comparing them across an entire battery of personality and social and cognitive kinds of measures. The basic prediction is that women who are on hormonal contraception are going to be more likely to be long-term mating strategies and more likely to have a more positive social female network is one of her predictions. They are less likely to show indices of promiscuity, they are less likely to be attracted to sort of a bad guy kind of image.

The very brief analysis that she has uncovered has really confirmed or supported this particular hypothesis. When we think about that at a societal level it becomes very intriguing because if hormonal contraception had a very discernible effect on a broad array of social and personality kinds of traits for millions and millions of women that and those traits all have been shown to effect mate selection. That’s kind of an interesting application. That kind of means that you’ve changed the face of society and changed the face of the future of the society because the people, the guys that are being picked as mates they are in a different game right now. It’s like they are in a whole other ball field where the rules are different and it’s just an unwitting outcome associated with biotechnology.

Brett McKay: This kind of gets segued to the next question. You guys are probably aware of like pickup artist. This is whole like underground, it’s not so underground anymore, but these guys who are dedicated to learning about mating intelligence I guess and they seem to use evolutionary psychology to back up their approaches. Is there any truth to what they say or are they playing a different game that you refer to Glenn, I mean this pickup artist stuff work I guess is the question I’m asking.

Glenn Geher: Scott, I know you study this aspect a bit. Why don’t you maybe take a crack at it.

Scott Barry: Yeah, I think that could be a whole other podcast because it’s a very interesting topic. I’ve done research about this sort of topic. I’ve seen the techniques they use upfront, I’ve gone to the summits and observed this. I think that there’s a lot of diversity in what a lot of them are selling, a lot of techniques they were selling, but I think I did see some of the things I think are on the right track. I think a lot of them advocate the use of really pickup wines I guess they call in Scotland pickup wines, right? And I think there is evidence supporting that as very important perhaps this sort of increasing your spontaneity and ability to be contextually appropriate and say things that are funny on the spots and make yourself just a little more interesting that was one of the aspects. I observed another major aspect to that community is overcoming approach anxiety. I would actually classify the large majority of what they are really doing if you really cut beneath the surface is helping shy guys be more confident and being more proactive in a sort of in their mating goals. Most of them their mating goals are short-term that is something I definitely noticed.

In fact, in one of the seminars I saw someone actually a homosexual individual raised his hand he said, I’m here and I was wondering if you are going to have anything to say about how to have a long-term relationship. I think the guy who were in the seminar were like that’s not why we are here…that really struck me because it was interesting. So, I mean there are very clear goal at least at the summit. So, I think there are some things that are backed up but I do see some things that I think are not in line, I think they are more wishful thinking or more of like, there’s a lot of misogyny that I see and feel coming out of that from some individuals, I think, it’s a very diverse thing, the pickup artists feel there is lots of people, like I said, with different methods. But you do see a lot of people, as I said, undercurrent like there’s a lot of anger coming from like people, a lot of guys who had been rejected and they almost have this attitude of like I want to get back at women by sleeping with as many as I can and then rejecting them all. And I think it’s a whole different level. I think that there is a psychological modem there where it’s unhealthy and it’s definitely not conducive to ever finding a long-term mate. I think that if your goals are really someday and wife to settle down was so meaningful, become like a Brett McKay. If that is your ultimate goal to actually have a serious playful relationship with a woman, all the research suggests that vulnerability is a good thing, it’s okay to not put on this like super macho and I think that’s something you are doing with your website right? You’re trying to kind of conceive of manliness in not such a stereotypical sort of false alpha-beta way. Am I right that’s one of the goals of your site?

Brett McKay: Yeah for sure, and that actually segued to another question. So this whole alpha beta male thing, that’s a very common thing amongst the pickup artist scene and they talk about well if you want to attract women you got to be dominant, right? You got to show who is the boss you know show who is daddy or whatever they say.

Scott Barry: I think that’s wishful thinking again on a lot of their parts. It’s a world where– I think there’s a lot of narcissism going on there as well, right? That’s how they view the world as I am the ruler but that’s not the reality in fact, which is the prestige distinction that we make in the book. The prestigious man is what women seem to actually want. If you actually listen to women, if you actually can do lots of interviews and studies, where you actually listen to what women really want it is more of a mix of sensitivity and assertiveness, not dominance but assertiveness. It is a very shallow distinction but a very important distinction because I think it gets very confused in this false alpha-beta dichotomy. Dominance is your say, everything you say it’s your way or no way, right, but assertiveness is being honest and even vulnerable about what you want out of life and what your goals are. Women find that aspect immensely sexy, assertiveness combined with sensitivity. It seemed like the big thing that women didn’t like or push others and an ultra-shy man. So, the research does seem abated out. So, the extent to which this pickup artist thing do help men at least come off as more confident and assertive about what they want, not dominance. I think that actually can help them in the mating domain. Does that make sense?

Brett McKay: That makes perfect sense. So, let’s talk about this, maybe one of you guys have insights into this. How does culture play and effect? You’ve talked about studies that shows some of these artists there were attracted in, man and woman are attracted in each other are cross-cultural. But this cultural effect what we find attractive in the opposite sex?

Glenn Geher: I think it definitely does. As an evolutionary psychologist, this is a very big question that we are asked of and then I think the one that we need to take very seriously. It kind of goes back to your question, also like connected with the topic of the pickup artist. You know as someone who has been teaching evolutionary psyche for a long time and also someone who I see myself as an academic as trying to be relatively socially proactive, trying to teach my students at SUNY New Paltz, go do great things, make this world a better place.

When I hear evolutionary psychology gets a bad rap of all that teaching people to be selfish and do what’s for their own selfish ends. It’s tough for me to be honest and if you look at my own publication record including in this book with Scott, I published lots of things around essentially trying to make the case that we can use the science of evolutionary psychology for lots of positive pro-social purposes. So, I hear things like people who are in the pickup artist community, I mean this is just me pursing on it when I hear or we are using the signs so that we can exploit women and I think you do hear a little bit of that. That’s pretty unpleasant for me to think about to be honest. So, I think that any scientific area, anybody of knowledge can be used for various purposes and to the extent that we as moral beings have a similar kind of set of goals it’s nice to use what we learn from science and from similar kinds of fields to help work toward the same sort of positive pro-social goals kind of relate to the idea of cultures so culture is speaking to rule that are sort of specific to communities that are different from how they play out in other communities.

So, the question of cultural variability is really very crucial. On one hand, you see enormous cultural variability. So, the way that we are dressed today, we are wearing like shirts or just T-shirt like you are going to be dressed like differently in another culture, rules about language, rules about children, how to deal with children and marriage. The rules just vary dramatically from place to place on the one hand. On the other hand, I guess this is where the universal nature of evolved tenancies comes into play. On the other hand, the rules are about the same kind of stuff. So, for instance you have religions and different cultures that look remarkably differently from one another. They tend to have things like here’s the ritual about childhood, here’s the ritual about birth, here’s the ritual about having someone defined as part of your in-group, here’s the rules about marriage, here’s the rules about extended family, here’s the rules about feeding. Our ritual for marriage is different from place to place but we all have a ritual regarding marriage which connects the couple into the broader fabric of community, so when you talk about culture, it’s always very important to understand that a lot of times when things looked very different their manifestations of the same underlying universal evolutionary principle.

So, I think when we think about human mating a lot of things like music. So, Scott was talking about how attractive musicians are. A good musician in North America now compared to someone in South America 300 years ago might be doing something incredibly different and it sound very different but it still is wow that person’s on test, that person’s charismatic, that sounds awesome, that gets people up and dancing. So, I think that there is a real important universal element to culture that we need to be aware of as well.

Scott Barry: Can I add to that?

Brett McKay: Yeah, go ahead, Scott.

Scott Barry: I am just going to refine this topic a little a bit because it’s something I think a lot about. I think about the kind of language we use in the field is that culture can amplify evolved tendencies. So, some things can appear– we can be fooled into thinking that some exaggerated traits evolved to be that exaggerated when they didn’t. When they made with the previous position was something completely separate but culture kind of played on that to such an exaggerated degree that it has become something that is never intended to and that could be enforced sometimes. You see that with models, you see that on the runaway sexual selection, or models that they knew will be skinnier and skinnier when the actual mate preference is not that skinny. You see that in the use of pornography, culture can highlight certain sexual practice and things that it almost becomes where women and men feel pressure to perform certain things that haven’t amplified much higher than wherever intended. You see that in lots of different aspects of culture. I can go on and on but I think that culture, we as a society can choose what we want to. We have lots of evolved aspects, we have lots of competing modules within us, lots of competing drives, some more than others that we have lots of it were complex but culture can make that distinction what we want to highlight and then what you want to amplify. Does that make sense?

Brett McKay: That makes perfect sense. A kind of a related question is to culture, how does technology affected young people’s mating intelligence, because for me personally like I am 30 years old but I interact with a lot of guys who are in their early 20s and I know a lot of these guys, they just seem sort of socially awkward and I know the sociality is an aspect of mating intelligence and they are struggling. I don’t know if it’s because they’ve grown up behind a keyboard and a computer screen. Has that affected mating intelligence or has it stunted mating intelligence or are young people just adapting their mating intelligence to this new world?

Scott Barry: Glenn might be in trouble here, so hold on.

Glenn Geher: No, I think I’m good. I don’t recognize the number so I’m good.

Scott Barry: But you got in trouble.

Glenn Geher: Never.

Brett McKay: So, what role has technology play like social media and computers and texting. Does that play a role? Has that changed mating intelligence in anyway or changed how people use their mating intelligence?

Glenn Geher: It’s a great question. I think as things move forward that’s going to become a more and more important question regarding pretty much any topic that we will be discussing in the future at the rate that technology is moving. There are two important things about, I guess, Brett, that I’m hearing you raised one is that, I have two kids who love their little iPad kind of things. So, I know exactly what you are talking about. It’s a struggle and every parent has the same struggle. You bumped into parents like oh yeah the electronic devices. My next-door neighbor Ed calls it like a drug like these kids you got the iPhone, what are you doing? I’m on the iPhone. How long you are going to be on that? Six-seven hours. It’s remarkable and part of it’s because those technologies exploit our evolved tendencies, they exploit our interests.

We are interested in social connections, that social connections are crucial to human survival and reproduction that’s why Facebook, I mean all those kinds of things are so incredibly successful. So, one hand we see these technologies and people are overusing them and people are growing up on them now. So, I did saw someone on Facebook, a friend of mine posted today she said well my mom called me she would yell out of the window and call for me and I was outside playing. It was a very simple little statement but it’s such a distinction now between the percentage of time that people are on their little electronic devices. If you spent your first 20 years on electronic devices, is that going to make you into someone who is different socially than you would be otherwise? Absolutely. I mean I think that’s got to be the case. So I think that’s a really important point. I think one of the things as evolutionist we tend to think about the importance of living in as natural ways as you can, thinking back to what were the conditions like under which human evolution took place. We certainly didn’t have iPhones, we didn’t have anything like that. We were outside, we were exercising, we were eating non-processed foods, we were engaging in interactions that were playful with the same individuals that we saw on a regular basis. That’s what the human mind was evolved to be exposed to. So, I think that technology definitely has its ups and downs. But from an evolutionary perspective, I think it’s concerning and what you are saying about some awkward guys in their twenties, I think in the future we will expect probably more awkward guys in their twenties.

I guess the second point that I will just kind of put out there real quick is that it changes self-presentation. So, so much about mating is about I’m presenting myself. So, if there is someone I want to go and meet someone at a bar, they would go and they would talk to people and maybe dance and maybe talk to that person’s friends. The music is loud so they get up close and there’s like pheromonal communication and hear the person’s voice and there is like this intimate kind of interaction. And now when you first meet someone, online dating has quickly gone from something that was sort of for weirdoes to the standard. It’s unbelievable how that’s happened. There’s a bunch of things about online dating. If you put up an online profile my best guess is that you put it up and you look at it and you say got to change that. I said this, I might have said that, got to change that. Well, the lighting isn’t good let me redo that or if you write a statement you are going to say to your best friend or maybe even to your mom, mom does this sound about right, is this the right thing, probably you shouldn’t check with your mom by the way just…

Scott Barry: Check with Brett.

Glenn Geher: Yeah, yeah check with me or Scott. So then when you finally get your first presentation of yourself out there, it may have gone through hours and hours of editing and what someone is going to see is the best possible photo of you with this hopefully incredibly well-written presentation of yourself with a video of you that makes you seem smart, easy going, all the things that you are capable of being one minute act, I mean everything has been raised because everything on online dating and this is what technology has done, every single thing there is a person’s absolute optimized presentation of self and that is evolutionarily unprecedented in human mating. So, I think something we got to think about.

Brett McKay: Yeah, it sounds like you would have to – I mean one of the mating skills, you talked about eight mating intelligence skills you talked about in the book is deception, being able to detect deception and maybe that’s one of the things that people had to change the way they detect deception because yeah when you modify an online profile you are not necessarily lying but you are doing a lot of puffery like puffing what you look like and it’s not exactly the whole image. So, like people you know if you meet somebody a woman had to be like okay this guy is really what he say he is on his profile or is he completely not this at all.

Glenn Geher: Right.

Scott Barry: Can I just defend this new world a little bit for a second?

Brett McKay: Sure.

Scott Barry: There’s some potentially positive aspects that you can really capitalize on to increase your mating intelligence, something that concerns me a lot in my research is understanding different kind of minds. There are some kinds of minds that tend to be more socially awkward like people with Asperger’s which is high functioning autism. I think in this new world you see a lot of opportunities for people who have trouble looking people in the eye. I suspect that some people you deal with are on the autism spectrum, people that you will describe as socially awkward, but it’s actually give them a chance to display their true self or the self they really want to express really might be hiding inside and might not be given an opportunity in the pressure bar environment where they don’t do well or… you have like this four/five second window and it does a lot of pressure for guys and for males and females in this sort of real life short-term situation where you meet someone it’s like you have a couple of seconds to give your best impression and who in the world can really give unless you are this … making someone attracted to you but most of us are, right? And most of us still want to kind of manifest or something. So, I think that some of these opportunities will afford people opportunities that they did not have before to express their true really selves.

Brett McKay: Very interesting. Let’s talk about this, we’ve talked about a lot of high level kind of what mating intelligence is and some of the research that talks about mating intelligence, but let’s get practical here. Is it possible to improve your mating intelligence and if so, what are some things that guys who are listening right now and a lot of these guys are in college, young and they are looking for a relationship, what can they do now to improve their mating intelligence?

Glenn Geher: I think that’s a really good question. I think it speaks of the utility of all the work that Scott and I did in this book. One of the bottom lines is that you got to think about presentation. I guess that’s one of the things that matters to me. People naturally do that but the way that you come across to mate you got to think about the potential things that are underscored by potential mates. So, if you are a young guy looking for a woman, well, you might find it useful to know that the number one thing women care about is mutual love and respect and follow right behind that is kindness in a partner. So, there’s a whole bunch of other qualities that are like these are some of the qualities that a lot of times get lost in the mix sort of that you hear and this is accurate that relatively muscular man are attractive, relatively dominant man are attractive. These things are all true but additionally one of the things that we go on in detail about in our book is altruistic man are attractive and kind man and man who show empathy and listen well and show sort of good ability to connect emotionally. So, I think that showing signs of these and essentially working to demonstrate all those kinds of qualities in a genuine kind of way, I think that these are things that would go a long way toward improving mating intelligence and helping people better connect with potential mates.

Brett McKay: Excellent. Scott do you have any parting advice?

Scott Barry: Yeah, I think that this picture of the procedures man that we paint in this book is it takes a lot of different aspects of mating intelligence together as one package. Glenn mentioned most of the things. Some additional things are developing some sort of culturally valuable skill or knowledge not focusing entirely on the target of the mate but first and foremost on yourself and developing yourself as a human being so that you can generally express this aspect to others. We talked about deception thing, while one of the number one deal breakers is when a mate feels that that person has completely deceived them in terms of who they are. So the best thing is to develop these positive things authentically. I think it’s very important.

Brett McKay: Very good. Well, Scott, Glenn, thank you so much for your time. This has been just a fascinating discussion and it’s a fascinating book and I highly recommend all of you who are listening right now to go out and pick it up. It’s a great read. You are going to pick up a lot of useful information and a lot of stuff that will make you – it’s also good like cocktail-party father if you are like and you can bring up hey, did you know that this is what’s attractive. But great book. Thank you again guys.

Glenn Geher: Thank you so much Brett, we enjoyed it.

Brett McKay: Our guests today were Dr. Glenn Geher and Dr. Scott Berry Kauffman. They are the authors of the book Mating Intelligence Unleashed: The Role of the Mind in Sex, Dating, and Love. You can find their book on

That wraps up another edition of The Art of Manliness podcast. For more manly tips and advice, make sure to check out The Art of Manliness website at, and until next time stay manly.

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