Q: There’s that old joke that “chicks like dudes with guitars.” Is there any merit to that?
A: There’s some evidence that it’s true. Thank you, science.
- It has been known for centuries that there’s a pretentious dude with a guitar at every party, and for some reason he seems to attract a group of women around him.
- But is that a myth? Does musical ability have any relationship to attractiveness?
- A group of French researchers conducted a study on this very question. The results were published in the journal Psychology of Music in 2014.
- Even the great Charles Darwin in 1871 suggested that music produced by human males is very much like music produced like the males of many species to attract females.
- Additionally, there is some evidence that human male musicians were exposed to higher levels of prenatal testosterone, suggesting stronger fertility and genes.
- These researchers had a theory for why this works. They suggested that previous research suggested that in the Animal Kingdom, music plays a role in sexual selection.
- The researchers then conducted a simple study to test whether simply being a musician was more attractive than not being a musician. It was conducted on the streets of a French city.
- NOTE: This is just about the most French study I’ve ever come across. Read on.
- The researchers recruited 22 young women to go through photographs of 14 male volunteers and rate their attractiveness.
- The male who received the highest ratings of attractiveness was chosen to conduct the study.
- Then, they sent that male out to the city streets of a French city. He was not informed of the purpose of the study.
- They instructed the male to wait until he was passed by a woman who appeared to be around 18-22 years of age.
- He was told NOT to select women based on physical characteristics (attractiveness, height, clothing, etc.).
- Then, he was instructed to say the following:
- “Hello. My name’s Antoine. I just want to say that I think you’re really pretty. I have to go to work this afternoon, and I was wondering if you would give me your phone number. I’ll phone you later and we can have a drink together someplace.”
- “Antoine” was instructed to randomly hold either a guitar case, a gym bag, or nothing. Every 10 women he spoke to, he was instructed to find a new place to stand and change what he was holding.
- Then, he simply took note of how many phone numbers he got for each condition.
- Did “Antoine” get more phone numbers with the guitar case, the gym bag, or nothing?
- Sports bag: 9% of women gave Antoine their phone number.
- Nothing: 14% of women gave Antoine their phone number.
- Guitar case: 31% of women gave their phone number to Antoine.
- Also, note that “Antoine” didn’t have to play a single note. It wasn’t Antoine’s actual musical ability that got women’s phone numbers, it was a guitar case. We don’t even know if there was a guitar in there!
- Sacrebleu! Simply holding a guitar case more than tripled Antoine’s success over holding a gym bag, and more than doubled his chances over holding nothing!
- This strengthens the theory: women like musicians.
- The researchers suggested two potential reasons why the guitar case was such a chick magnet.
- First, the researchers brought up the idea (backed up by some research) that male musicians have higher testosterone exposure than other men, and women use musicianship as a marker of good genes.
- Second, it’s possible that being a musician is a signal of intelligence and physical ability. Being a musician requires hard work, sensitivity, and intelligence. These traits are highly valued by women because they can also bring financial stability or status.
- However, both these hypotheses don’t consider the gym bag – men who exercise should also have testosterone and a work ethic, right?
- So, the actual effect is kind of a mystery.
- The researchers did point out that “Antoine” was chosen because he was already attractive. There’s a possibility that these results might only work for people who are already attractive.
- Additionally, “Antoine” might have behaved differently when holding the guitar case than when he was holding the other items.
Do these results work for other men besides Antoine? Only one way to find out.
Gueguen, N., Meineri, S., & Fischer-Lokou, J. (2014). Men’s music ability and attractiveness to women in a real-life courtship context. Psychology of Music, 42(4), 545-549. Link: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0305735613482025