Study Finds Women on the Pill Prefer Macho Men

Jan. 22, 2003 -- A new study finds that women who are on birth control pills are more attracted to sexy, macho men, while women who aren't on the pill prefer sensitive, caring guys.

The study, completed by psychologists at St. Andrews and Stirling universities in Scotland, suggests that since women on the pill don't have to worry about reproduction, they tend to choose men to whom they are simply physically attracted.

"Women who are on the pill are not ovulating," sex therapist Laura Berman told Good Morning America. "So without the possibility of a baby in the picture, it seems to say that women simply choose the man they find most attractive, not who would make the best father. They aren't looking for someone to help them raise a child."

In tests, researcher Tony Little — who led the study — showed women images of different types of men and asked them to choose the ones who looked like long-term partners.

Picking the Wrong Guy?

The researchers found that women taking the pill tended to choose macho-looking men with pronounced masculine features such as big cheekbones, jaws and chin, and to rate men with more feminine and softer physical features — which some psychologists say are signs of a sensitive nature that can make a man a better long-term companion — as turnoffs.

But Berman, a regular contributor to Good Morning America, said the study leaves out one vital point in its conclusion: "We don't know enough about who these women were attracted to before they were on the pill," she said.

Her sister, urologist Jennifer Berman, agreed. "You can't say the pill is causing us to choose one type versus another," she said. "Women on the pill might be more sexually active and just want those men anyway. People off the pill may not be sexually active."

Jennifer Berman said that because the study did not assess the participants' hormone levels and other levels, it is difficult to say whether the results are due to physiological or subconscious reasons. The pill is a mood-altering drug that can cause depression and mood swings, she said.

Laura Berman also said there's no real reason to believe that a more sensitive-looking man will turn out to be a better mate.