Being Extremely Intelligent and Easygoing May Actually Hurt Your Chances of Finding Love

Being clever and easygoing are often regarded as attractive qualities in a prospective partner. But is there a point at which too much of a good thing can harm your prospects? According to a study published in the British Journal of Psychology, the answer to this question appears to be yes.

Researchers from the University of Western Australia found that being exceptionally clever or easygoing may actually harm your prospects. There also appears to be little benefit in being extremely attractive over simply being very attractive in the eyes of a typical potential partner.

The team used data from 214 young adults in the city of Perth, Australia, regarding characteristics that people typically seek in a partner, including intelligence, easygoingness, kindness and physical attractiveness.

The participants were asked to specify how attracted they would be to a potential partner who was more intelligent than a certain percentage of the population—for example, 1 percent, 10%, 25%, 50%, 75%, 90% and 99%. They were then asked to do the same across the other personality traits.

The results of the survey showed that intelligence and easygoingness peaked at the 90th percentile. And there was a statistically significant reduction in the rated attractiveness of prospective partners across the 90th to 99th percentiles for both traits.

According to lead author of the study Gilles Gignac, having too much of a good thing may not necessarily be helpful.

"Previously published research suggests that elevated levels of intelligence may incite feelings of insecurity in some people, which may reduce desirability," said Gignac. "Correspondingly, exceptional easygoingness may be viewed as an indication of a lack of confidence or ambition."

Stock image of a couple dating. iStock

Both kindness and physical attractiveness also plateaued at the 90th percentile. So, on average, there doesn't appear to be any gain to being exceptionally kind or exceptionally physically attractive in the context of attracting a romantic partner, according to Gignac.

The research also looked at why some people were much more attracted to intelligence in a romantic partner than others. The authors found that neither how intelligent a person is, nor how intelligent they perceive themselves to be could predict how much they found the trait attractive in a prospective partner.

"Most people find intelligence attractive in potential partner," Gignac told Newsweek. "However, interestingly, the amount of intelligence in the person providing the ratings of desirability, whether measured objectively with an IQ test or even their own self-assessment of IQ, does not predict the degree to which they find intelligence desirable in a potential partner.

"So, relatively intelligent people can be relatively unaffected by the intelligence in another person, and a relatively unintelligent person might find intelligence very attractive in another person," he said.