Famous musicians like Mick Jagger, Justin Timberlake, and Kanye West seem to have no trouble attracting women. But does an interest in music give any advantage to guys who rock out in garages and basements rather than stadiums? An elegantly simple experiment done in France suggests that it does.
First, researchers recruited a good-looking young man. (To do this they showed photographs of 14 male volunteers to a number of young women and asked them to rate each man’s attractiveness on a scale of 1 to 10. The man with the highest score became their confederate in the experiment.)
Next, on a sunny afternoon in early summer, the good-looking confederate took up his place on one of the shopping streets of a small city. His contribution to science was to approach women between the ages of 18 and 22 who were walking alone and (following a set script) ask for their phone number so he could invite them to meet later for a drink. He did this in three different conditions: Holding an acoustic guitar case, holding a sports bag or a control condition of holding nothing.
The researchers hypothesized that more women would be receptive to the young man’s overtures if he was holding a guitar case. Charles Darwin believed that music played a role in human courtship and sexual selection. This idea continues to have plausibility among researchers today who hypothesize that musical interest or ability may be associated with intelligence and physical dexterity—both traits that are likely to be attractive to women.