It is bad news for frequent sufferers of man flu who are prone to calling in sick.
While pulling a sickie may work with employers, it is likely to leave your wife or girlfriend distinctly unimpressed.
Women looking for a long-term partner find sickliness incredibly off-putting, a study has found. When it comes to the traits they find attractive, being tough in the face of illness is more important than a handsome face or even a good physique.
Researchers from the University of Hawaii asked 86 women to rate men based on photographs and descriptions including their attitude towards poor health.
They saw one man photographed who ‘candidly admits that he catches almost every cold’ and another who only admits to the ‘sniffles’ or feeling a ‘bit off’
They saw one man photographed who ‘candidly admits that he catches almost every cold’ and another who only admits to the ‘sniffles’ or feeling a ‘bit off’. Another man stayed in bed all day with headaches, while a second ignored them.
The results, published in the Journal of Evolutionary Medicine, show women looking for a long-term relationship chose a man who ignored illness, even if they had a worse face or body.
The authors, led by Professor Susan Brown, from the University of Hawaii, wrote: ‘Participants preferred stoic men who worked even though they were experiencing health problems as long-term mates, disregarding the male’s facial symmetry and physique.’
The study suggests women prefer less wimpy men because of our hunter-gatherer human past. Then men were needed to help with childcare and hunt for food, instead of placing ‘an additional burden on their mates through malingering’.
Another man stayed in bed all day with headaches, while a second ignored them
To test women’s view of illness, researchers used the minor ailments of colds and flu, headaches and symptoms caused by volcanic air pollution in Hawaii. They showed them a slideshow of men at random, who also varied in facial appearance, body size and clothing.
Pairs of men had competing views of illness, with one description stating: ‘He admits that he often wakes up with headaches that are so bad that he must remain in bed for the day.’ The opposite description for another man said: ‘Even when he wakes up with a headache, he ignores it and goes to school and (sports) practice.’
Women looking for a long-term relationship found stoicism more important than facial attractiveness, when shown men with symmetrical or asymmetrical faces. It also came in ahead of physique, which was reflected in a picture of a man with broad shoulders compared to his waist.
Status, reflected by a tie or a casual shirt, was also important for women choosing a long-term partner. However a bad attitude towards illness was not important to women looking for a short-term relationship, when asked to choose men from the slideshow.
The research concludes with the serious point that men can often be tempted not to admit symptoms of ill health.
The authors add: ‘If men have been selected to ignore, or are not conscious of their health problems, then their health services should emphasise how to increase men’s perceptions of their potential health problems.’