Originally posted here, at SELF.com.
Researchers asked college students, including 164 men and 89 women ranging in age from 18 to 26, to rank 16 personality traits they look for in someone they’re dating, and…
…”sense of humor,” “fun loving'” and “playful” were all high on their lists. Males ranked a sense of humor first among the traits they sought in females, with fun loving third and playful, fifth. Meanwhile, a sense of humor, fun loving and playful ranked second, third and fourth among traits females sought in males.
Garry Chick, professor and head of the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management at Pennsylvania State University, conducted the study with his colleagues in order to discover why adults continue to “play” from childhood into adulthood.
“It’s nicer to be around people who are playful than people who are grumpy,” Chick tells HealthySELF, explaining that we may have used sexual selection, a reproductive process in which we select mates based on specific attractive characteristics, to keep playfulness around.
Not surprisingly, men are interested in women who are young, healthy and fertile, Chick says. But here’s the interesting part: while your lustrous hair and glowing skin may grab a guy’s attention, playfulness also signals youthfulness.
“What we know from looking at research among animals and people is that the most playful ones are juveniles, so playfulness is clearly a marker of being young,” Chick says. “If [women] were playful, that would be kind of an indicator of being young, and being young and healthy is an indicator of being a good potential mother.”
Ladies also go for guys with a fun-loving attitude, because it signals that they’re less aggressive and less likely to hurt our kids. “The notion of aggressiveness would be something that females would attempt to avoid,” Chick says.
But playfulness wasn’t the only trait that peaked on subjects’ lists. In fact, “kind and understanding” was the highest-ranked trait sought by women, and the second highest-ranked trait sought by men. “You can have somebody who’s playful,” Chick says, “but if he or she is not a kind or understanding person, you don’t want any part of them.” We’ll take kind and fun loving, please!
— Cary Carr