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Men Feel Most Attractive When They Become Fathers: Study

Update Date: Apr 11, 2013 03:10 PM EDT

When would you think that men feel the most attractive in their lives? Is it in their late teens, when they are finishing high school? Maybe it's their mid-twenties, when they're establishing their careers? Or maybe it's their forties, when they are at their financial peaks? According to a recent study, it is none of those times - or at least, not for the reasons stated. Men feel the most attractive when they have just had a baby.

A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Iowa State University came to that conclusion after polling couples at three different milestones in their marriage. According to the Huffington Post, the 182 couples were surveyed as newlyweds, a year after they had exchanged vows and two years afterwards. Each person was asked to rate how attractive they felt they were on a scale of 1 to 100, with 1 being hideous and 100 being supremely beautiful or handsome, and then to rate themselves on a scale of 1 to 5 on how they felt they looked in comparison with the year before, for example.

Women perceived themselves to look worse if they had a baby, while men who had not had kids perceived themselves to look about the same all three times they were surveyed. However, men who had just become fathers experienced a temporary boost in how attractive they felt. New fathers stopped feeling like studs by the following year though.

Why do men experience that boost? Researchers do not actually know. They do know that the increase in self-esteem does not appear to be based on a looking-glass effect, the Calgary Herald reports. That is to say that the spouses' opinions of themselves did not change based on their husband or wife's view of them.

"I was talking about this paper with my husband and he commented on the attention he got when he was seen in public holding our son after he was born. Like, 'Aren't you a good dad,' 'Look at that new dad with his baby,'" study author Alicia Cast said to the Herald. "Women get that feedback, too, because everybody loves a new baby. But that [benefit] may be countered by other things she's experiencing that he's not, in terms of how her body has changed and being more physically tired."

The study was published in the Journal of Gender Studies.

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