If you are finding it difficult to secure a date, be more poetic. New research shows that women prefer compliments that contain novel metaphors. A team from the Key Laboratory for Neuroinformation in China tested 124 women. The women looked at photos of men, paired with compliments. The compliments were either literal or metaphorical. Metaphorical compliments were either novel or conventional. The men in photos associated with novel metaphorical compliments rated as more attractive.
The scientists also compared compliments on personal appearance to compliments on possessions. It should come as no surprise that women preferred compliments about their looks.
The researchers argue that the use of novel metaphors demonstrates creativity. They cite other studies showing that poets have more female partners. Strong language skills are a proxy for intelligence and women prefer brainy men. The conclusion is that sexual selection could have driven the evolution of language.
The women in the study were students at the University of Electronic Science and Technology in China. Personal appearance is the favorite topic for compliments among flirting Chinese —and everyone else. The reason? Such compliments show direct sexual intent.
In case you were hoping to use some of the actual compliments from the study, don’t. Chinese compliments do not translate well into English. An example from the paper reads Your smile is a naughty goblin. This proved more popular than Your lips are so sexy.
Gao, Z., Gao, S., Xu, L., Zheng, X., Ma, X., Luo, L. and Kendrick, K.M., 2017. Women prefer men who use metaphorical language when paying compliments in a romantic context. Scientific Reports, 7.
You can read the full text on ResearchGate.
Featured image by Nathan Walker on Unsplash.