Ladies and gentlemen: we have been misinformed.
Popular culture – whether music, films or books – constantly drums the line that all girls love a bad boy, while men can’t help drooling over vampy women.
Think of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, that sulky vampire chap from Twilight or the perma-undressed Rhianna.
But, it would appear, all of this is piffle. According to new research, most of us are actually more likely to go knock-kneed in the presence of nice people.
A recent study by two British universities – Selflessness is sexy – asked men and women to rate the attractiveness of the opposite sex based on a list of qualities, including altruistic behaviour.
The result? Both sexes found potential partners significantly more attractive when told they also did good things, such as voluntary work or caring for a sick relative.
Predictably, this news has gone down well with British Red Cross volunteers. And while no-one is suggesting that signing up with us would instantly turn you into a hottie or babe magnet, it would be unwise to discount the possibility entirely.
The ‘peacock’ effect
After all, the Red Cross has produced an impressive number of successful relationships and marriages among its members over the years – which only makes sense, when you think about it. If even normal people are attracted to altruistic types, sparks are obviously going to fly when two do-gooders come together. That’s just basic maths.
According to Dr Freya Harrison, a senior author of the report: “We now know that ‘altruistic’ helping can actually increase evolutionary fitness. Having the energy and ability to help others might be a show of vigour, rather like a peacock’s tail.”
So throw out your bikers’ jacket; put down that scarlet lipstick; stop sneering (or pouting). Because now it’s official: nice guys – and girls – don’t always finish last.