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Being Nice Is Sexy, Study

Update Date: Sep 19, 2013 02:00 PM EDT

Being nice may actually spice up your sex life, a new study suggests.

Helping others can make men and women more attractive to potential sexual partners, according to new research.

The study revealed that the findings were even more pronounced in men. Women found altruistic behavior sexually attractive in both a one-night stand and a long-term relationship.

The findings could help researchers understand how natural selection can favor behaviors that involve investing significant time in helping others.

The latest study involved 32 women and 35 men. Researchers asked participants to rate the attractiveness of the opposite sex based on a list of qualities. Some of the qualities include attributes that were selfless like "he does the shopping for his elderly neighbor," and traits that were considered neutral like preferences for food.

Researchers said that both men and women rated potential partners for long-term relationships as more attractive when they were told that the person had invested in altruistic acts.

"At first glance, it's difficult to see how natural selection could favor behaviors that involve investing significant time and resources to help others at a cost to oneself," Dr. Freya Harrison, a Research Fellow in The University of Nottingham's Life Sciences Center for Biomolecular Sciences, said in a news release.

"We now know that 'altruistic' helping can actually increase evolutionary fitness in various ways - people might preferentially help their relatives, with whom they share genes, or they might target their helping toward others who are likely to reciprocate in the future," she said.

"Having the energy and ability to help others might be a show of vigor, rather like a peacock's tail. It would be really interesting for future work to try to tease these two possibilities apart," Harrison added.

The findings are published in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology.

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