Study of the Day: Men Like Ugly Women

The folks over at OkCupid—the humbly titled “best dating site on Earth”—have put on their math-hats again … this time to calculate the relationship between what photos men find attractive and which ones they act on. (That is, which women they send a message to.)

Their findings:

  • Guys dig controversy. “The more men, as a group, disagree about a woman’s looks, the more they end up liking her”
  • Cute doesn’t cut it. “Guys tend to ignore girls who are merely ‘cute.’”
  • Ugly girls got game: “Having some men think she’s ugly actually works in a woman’s favor.”

These claims are backed with stats collected from OkCupid’s rich data on user activity. Here’s OkCupid blogger, Christian Rudder:

All people, but especially guys, spend a disproportionate amount of energy searching for, browsing, and messaging our hottest users. As I’ve noted before, a hot woman receives roughly  the messages an average-looking woman gets, and 25× as many as an ugly one. Getting swamped with messages drives users, especially women, away. So we have to analyze and redirect this tendency, lest OkCupid become … Every so often we run diagnostic plots like the one below, showing how many messages a sampling of 5,000 women, sorted by [rated] attractiveness, received over the last month.

The study compared real users, such as the ones pictured below, to illustrate that while men can judge two women’s relative attractiveness to be similar on average, it’s the women whose numbers skew either to the far left or right that get the most messages.

In short, the girls that guys deem either hot or hideous—but not so-so—are the ones who get approached the most. Why? Here’s Rudder’s the highly scientific hypothesis:

Suppose you’re a man who’s really into someone. If you suspect other men are uninterested, it means less competition. You therefore have an added incentive to send a message. You might start thinking: maybe she’s lonely … maybe she’s just waiting to find a guy who appreciates her … at least I won’t get lost in the crowd … maybe these small thoughts, plus the fact that you really think she’s hot, prod you to action. You send her the perfectly crafted opening message: “sup”

The rest of the post is equally interesting; there’s even a punnett square-like graphic. And an explanation for this equation:

So what do you think, guys? Is this accurate? Do you go for the evolutionarily most accessible woman? Or is it just our varied tastes that account for this?

Discuss among yourselves.

Images OkCupid and boomer33_2007/Photobucket


About Lu Fong

Lu Fong was a staff writer and blog editor for the Good Men Project in its formative years. As the requisite woman on staff, her hobbies included cleaning, cooking, knitting, fainting, and childbearing. Follow her on Twitter @lufong.


  1. Kell Brigan says:

    Jesus fucking christ, where are the men who realize they don’t have the RIGHT to assume that their subjective opinion of ANYONE’S appearance means anything to anyone else or has any objective truth to it whatsoever? ANY MAN who thinks any women he perceives as “ugly” or “beautiful” really is, is UNACCEPTABLE. POINTLESS. NOT WORTH EVEN TALKING TO. Until a man gets that his opinion is SOLELY HIS OPINION and has nothing to do with anyone else or anything else, he’s worthless. He’s a joke. He’s living in his sick little dream world. He’s waiting for people to act in conformance with his weirdo assumptions and then gets pissed off when EVERYONE turns out to be HUMAN.

  2. The problem is very attractive women are too expensive. Think about it in terms of cars. Sure, everyone would love to drive a porsche, a lambo or an aston martin, but how many people actually do that? Instead, Honda, Hundai, Toyota and other lower brand models like Saturn and Kia, get the most customers and the most purchases.

    The same deal is with female attractiveness.

    • Lolabunny says:

      Yeah, the difference is that women are not cars that you can buy, most women are financilaly independent and all that you said makes no sense.

    • Justa Soares says:

      So you just admit men value model-like women over the still pretty but that hot woman even when he is ugly himself, and that attractiveness is all about a woman’s appearance. And that men believe they are actually buying women when dating them. And that men feel they are settling for less when not dating the hottest women out there, and as women are like cars, like you said, with no personalities, wishes, feelings or dreams, they could pretty much tarde them for a better (hotter) one when having the money to do so, without any shame.
      Men are so cool, indeed.

    • Kell Brigan says:

      Holy shit, this asshole thinks being a “good man” means equating women to cars. Let me the FUCK out of here! These guys are SHITS.

    • Ralphie says:

      What men don’t realize is that the women who are truly lonely are the attractive ones. It is a stereotype that all attractive women are expensive and high maintanence. I know some drop dead gorgeous women who simply want a decent guy who isn’t only interested in having sex with her. One of the reasons why attractive women “seem” expensive is because men don’t seem to have enough confidence in their ability to have an attractive woman until they make a lot of money. Men are very insecure about competition and when they see a woman who looks like she may have a lot of suitors, they pull themselves out of the race. But the problem is that all the decent men bail while the assholes, playboys, users, and douchey rich dudes are the only men willing to approach her. Trust me, the prettier the girl, the lonelier she is. All of my average and below average looking friends are married but my higher than average girl friends and single and constantly meeting jerks.

      • But the problem is that all the decent men bail while the assholes, playboys, users, and douchey rich dudes are the only men willing to approach her.
        So what’s stopping these attractive women from approaching the decent men and ditching the assholes, playboys, etc…?

        Sure you can say that not all attractive women act the way Andrew describes above but once you meet enough that do its no wonder they are prone to stereotyping them.

        Likewise I don’t see much objection to women stereotyping men as jerks after meeting a string of bad guys. Not many people telling them that its a myth that all guys are jerks and that women are afraid of putting themselves out there for a decent guy. Nope all men’s fault again.

  3. Joe Smith says:

    The homlier the better because I see the attractiveness in homely women.

  4. yeah but do those chicks swallow ?

  5. Alexandra says:

    Interesting posts….
    Please, look at the facebook photo and tell me what you think of this woman.
    How do you rate her????


  6. Wade McClusky says:

    If you’re squiring around a consensus “hot” woman, you have the distraction of every Tom, Dick, and Harry staring at her, trying to make time with her, etc. If you’re with a big girl, a gal with a big nose, outsized ass, downy hair on the upper lip, or what have you, you get to deal with asshole remarks.

  7. All this data proves, is that a woman’s beauty is directly proportional to the amount of times she’s asked out.
    However, it also proves that most women (that are considering dating sites) are perceived as average, or ugly, by most men.

  8. I think this piece is right on. I have an unconventional “ethnic” look. I really don’t get hit on that much, but men always stare at me, and when men actually do talk to me, they assume I have a looong line of suitors. It’s funny to me.
    I did actually try OK Cupid and I got so many messages I couldn’t take it, so I shut it down.Most guys are creepy anyway. I think there’s too many flaky men out there, I believe they should have the backbone to approach someone in real life!

    • I’m going to focus on your comment and respond to you directly, not really in-line with the article at all… up to you if you want to respond:

      Isn’t that the weirdest thing, with the “I think she looks like X so she must have a shit-tonne of experience. I shall write her off as an intimidating slut” thing? I know what that’s like: while I’m not hot and don’t get hit on often at all, but when people DO walk up to me they look me up and down get really sneaky about trying to fish out information on how many people I’ve been with in the past/what I know that they might enjoy… it’s uncomfortable, is’t it?

      … and anyone who’s bothered to step up to the plate and talk to me knows that in reality, I’m a shy, geeky woman who’s sick as fuck of lewd looks and really confused about the bit where people got the idea to assume what they have.

      OkCupid was a creep-fest experience for me too: if you want a horror story for dating, try this out: <— I met him on OkCupid.

    • Amen, Miriam. I just joined Ok Cupid because men *only* stare, and never approach. At least with online dating, it’s like having a sign on your forehead that says “I’m available. Ask me out.”

  9. paul kidwell says:

    Give me a nerdy PhD with glasses, in a little black dress.

    • AppleSauce86 says:

      That’s the problem sometimes. I’m nerdy and I attend an ivy league but I don’t look the part. I look more like a model (or atleast that’s what everyone says) than I look like an awkward nerd so I feel like my intellectual counterparts never approach me and they never give me a chance. Therefore, I am left with no dates. People always say that I should let my personality shine through more but sometimes its difficult to do that when people have already judged you before you open your mouth. Considering that I do attend an ivy league school, I feel lots of reverse discrimination because I am not a very frompy or nerdy looking women, the men at my university prefer womem like that and it has a very adverse affect on my dating liffe.

    • Lolabunny says:

      As long as her body is super hot, right? Intelligence is only a plus. 🙂

  10. I must say that I laughed my rear off at this clever piece. Well done. While I haven’t been in the dating game for 32 years, I’m ever so amused to see that the twin arguments “… maybe she’s just waiting to find a guy who appreciates her … at least I won’t get lost in the crowd ” still has currency.

    I also wonder if it might be useful to plot the average (#calls*x) vs x=attractiveness to produce a monotonic function. If there is a bump/bulge mid-range of the plot, it bears out the claim that `ugly’ (e.g. average) looking girls get more calls on the statistical average. It also helps to make sense of the scatter of points high and low at each value of x. My eyeballing of the data tells me that the function will be mostly positive sloped without inflection…which doesn’;t quite prove the claim of the headline….but I’;m old and my eyeballs are going south….

  11. Men see a really hot chick and know that she will be hard to please and require too much time, money, and emotional support. Men do not want to work that hard.

    • That is the plain truth, dude. Additionally, they mistakenly believe we are more likely to leave for a “better” guy.

    • Kell Brigan says:

      And, then they get pissed off when the average looking women tell them to go fuck themselves. (Hint: there is always a BETTER GUY than YOU.)

  12. The interesting result would be to see how many of the messages that the “high and low” women receive come from men who rate the women as highly attractive and how many from men who rate the women as not attractive. If the women are receiving messages from men who rate them as unattractive, then the headline has some validity. As I look at the example given, I think, “Okay, one woman has three times as many men who rate her as very attractive. Therefore, I’m not surprised that she has three times as many messages as the other one. If they wanted the equation to carry any weight, they’d give correlation factors for each of the coefficients. The whole determining factor could be only in the number of men who rate a woman as highly attractive.

    • I personally like women that I am comfortable with and I can have a conversation with, if she is also HOT that is a bonus. A woman has to have a little sex appeal to get my attention but if she acts like a tramp I take a hike fast. I would say that most guys want a pretty girl who they feel comfortable around, if men feel like a woman has a lot of mileage between her legs they lose interest fast.

      • SecondBeach says:

        Funny, I didn’t know someone around whom I felt comfortable and whom I could have a conversation with was mutually exclusive with someone who’s had a lot of sex.

      • Valter Viglietti says:

        @Dan: “if men feel like a woman has a lot of mileage between her legs they lose interest fast.”

        Do not talk for every man; I’d rather have those women. 8)
        More (sexual) experience means better sex, less inhibitions, more open minded. The more the better. 🙂

        I’ll leave the virgins and prudes to you. 😉

      • Lolabunny says:

        At least you are honest. Men really dislike women who have gad more sex than them, or even less but “too much” in their sexist minds. And you forgot to add: it is not only about how much sex, but mostly how many partners. They lose interest to date them, but not to fuck, though. Oh yes, “promiscuous” women are always great to fuck, but never to respect or treat like a human being. Now even if the guy is promiscuous himself that is sill fine and he still believes he is good for relationships. sigh.

  13. The key is whether the GUY thinks the GIRL is hot and presumes she is getting asked out a lot, or not. THe issue isn’t really what the woman is, but what the assumptions about her are.

    I often hear such nonsense “oh she probably has guys hitting on her all the time” when in reality NO ONE hits on “her” bc they’re all operating on preconcieved, incorrect assumptions that she is high in demand, has a line of men waiting for her etc. You’d be surprised how untrue that is for a lot of women.

    Men also tend to use the assumption that all women are equal — in terms of “oh if i dont ask her out i will find someone just as good out there.” Typical way to soothe your ego thinking you didnt just make a big mistake. But what if you did? What if she was the one and your misassumptions actually led you astray??

    Conclusion: Be a man, step up to the plate. Any woman who shoots you down isn’t worth it in the first place. But if you dont ask, you will never know. And better not to wonder “what if” forever.

    • I remember in college the most beautiful women were not asked out nearly as much a average looking women, No one likes rejection. If a person’s mind set tells them that they will be rejected then there is little incentive to risk rejection.
      A problem with online dating is the “no show” people who message a good time but never meet.

      • GirlGlad4TheGMP says:

        Guys, ever see a girl with a guy and think “How did he end up with her”?
        Maybe nobody else asked her.
        Yeah rejection sucks, but potentially losing out on something great sucks even more.

        And it’s asinine assumption that prettier girls are high maintenance. I know a number of them who have hearts of gold. Alot of them get snatched up right away, some are still waiting to be asked (dudes, if you can stare, you can say hello).

    • AppleSauce86 says:

      You hit the nail on the head! I’ve had numerous men look at me in utter shock when I told them that men don’t approach me very often. They always tell me that they would’ve assumed that I had men lined up around the corner but I don’t. I’ve always been a victim of those assumptions and it makes my dating life a bit more difficult. I also have a very out-going personality so I think most men assume that a very attractive woman with a very out going personality must be in high demand therefore they don’t want to compete. Quite frankly, these assumptions have made me feel very insecure. One time I told a group of friends that I must not be pretty enough, thats why guys dont approach and they all burst out in laughter and told me,” Are you crazy, you look like a freaking model!!” Idk, its hard to believe that you are as pretty as everyone says you are when guys don’t ask you out.

  14. I don’t think the study actually concludes that “men like ugly women”.

    IMO, it has more to do with rejection of superficial princesses and preference for real people.

    I look for sensible shoes.

  15. Cooper Fleishman says:

    A wise man once said, “There’s nothing hotter than a hot girl who doesn’t know she’s hot.”

    • Lolabunny says:

      She doesn’t know she is hot but she is still a a hot girl. The wise and hot part is where the guy falls for her hot body and then makes her sure about her hotness?

  16. Lu, I love this! (ha and I also love your bio)

    I always find the women that are most attractive just look so much more natural and let themselves show without a ton of make-up. That’s just my preference but I’m not trying to be “sweet” here, but sometimes a wicked personality makes up for someone who isn’t as attractive.

    Context more than content make the woman…true romantic I am, yes 😉

  17. your study is bull i was on 4 dating sites and they pick the pretty women not the ugly ones if this was so i would of found me someone all i got was con artists (scammers) trying to get money from me, cause they figure that is all the ugly ones are good for that we don’t have feelings.

  18. SecondBeach says:

    Not what the study is saying at all…

  19. Mona,

    You just need to hang in there and pray to God to send you your mate. There is someone for everyone and your Mr. Right is going to think you’re the most beautiful woman on the planet. Let your inner beauty shine through! You are beautiful!


  1. […] Then Tom Matlack of the Good Men Project, a project I like a lot since I’m raising two fine young men and I happen to really like men, wrote a rebuttal, and we agreed to have a conversation about it. It’s on the Huffington Post, on the GMP blog and here. Interesting that he found my research unsettling when his GMP referenced OKCupid research that found that men like ugly women. […]

  2. […] are turned on by pumpkin pie, ugly women, large ladies, and faces if they’re looking for something serious. If not then, […]

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kiss Kiss Ying Yang, thadevinemsb and others. thadevinemsb said: RT @GoodMenProject: Latest story: Study of the Day: Men Like Ugly Women … […]

Speak Your Mind