I was speaking with someone the other day, and I made the assertion that nerds are destined to end up with the popular girls from high school. Immediately after making the claim, I was challenged to prove it. The criteria for this challenge was simple.
1) I had to show evidence that proved my statement
2) It had to be real evidence and not random things I found on the internet proving my point which would have been easy since there are countless upon countless upon countless sources of why geeks/nerds are on the rise and should get the girls. (And also some downsides to being so intelligent)
Sure there are countless non scientific reasons for why a nerd or geek (I use them interchangeably although there are clear differences) will end up with the best girls. For instance, a geek is comfortable with who they are and that confidence is appealing or a nerd has vast ranging interests which are always interesting to learn about. Nerds are really pretty adorable/attractive if you think about it. But this article will only focus on the scientific. Without further delay, here is scientifically why geeks stand the best chance to end up with the girls they have no chance with. Enjoy.
Growing up, every person heard a very common phrase, “Boys don’t make passes at girls that wear glasses.” In all reality from birth through high school to the senior citizen home, men do not base their choice in women on the need for assistance in seeing clearly. In fact, many men buy women alcohol in the hopes that their vision will become greater impaired thus improving the man’s chances of her finding him attractive. The correct phrase should have been, “Girls don’t make passes at boys that wear glasses.” Nerds and geeks have always struggled to gain the attention of attractive, popular, and appealing women throughout history. This struggle has been well documented in media as well as in the day to day examples to which any person can attest. While the math geeks and Star Wars freaks may struggle to lure the attention of the beauty queens through the formative years, this effort changes drastically in today’s society as women have begun to see the qualities sought after in a mate in the nerds. While the football stars and baseball short stops may have the upper hand in achieving the best girls up until the early 20s, it is the nerds that win the popular girl in the end.
In high school, some students are “often portrayed as awkward, intelligent, shy, unattractive social outcasts with unfashionable hair and dress styles… They are called ‘nerds,’ ‘dweebs,’ ‘dorks,’ ‘geeks,’ ‘brainiacs,’ and ‘computer jocks’” (Kinney 1993). These portrayals not only shape the self image of those people that are labeled under these categories but the global perception of them. Since none of these characteristics are considered desirable in a teenager’s world, many girls have a hard time giving a nerd the time of day unless unavoidable circumstances force them to need the assistance of a nerd. For instance, a pretty girl may have a math test coming up and she needs assistance studying the multiplication tables. This is an instance that a nerd would be able to assist her. Beyond the scope of the assignment though, the nerd does not have a chance with the girl as she is more interested in the allure of the extremely popular, charismatic, independently wealthy student athlete. While the athletes with their defined jaw lines and winning smiles initially steal the hearts of girls and receive a yes to be their date to the prom, it is the nerd’s that follow the principle of the tortoise by moving slower to the finish line but by being the first to get the yes when down on one knee.
Women look for a number of things in a potential mate. Peggy La Cerra outlines in her article Why Relationships Are So Difficult that “intense selection pressures honed the neural mechanisms that gave rise to our mating psychology” (La Cerra, 2011). This is very much like the principles of Darwin. Because the primary instinct of a species is its own survival, girls have been taught through natural selection the traits needed in a mate to give their off spring the best chance at survival (Darwin, 1936). Since a woman has high stakes in choosing the correct man, she must select one that has high status, good earning potential, and physical prowess while being emotionally faithful and committed (La Cerra, 2011).
Physical prowess is the least important thing that a girl is looking for in the modern world. Initially, a strong man was needed to hunt food or to fight off other attacking tribes. Since today’s man is expected to just be able to pick out the milk at the grocery store with the best expiration date, the need for someone that can hunt and kill is greatly decreased. Plus while the jocks may have had the nerds beat in terms of lifting or throwing distance or even jump height while young, the athlete’s body’s start to fall apart as they age in to their 30’s. In 2004, the National Basketball Association reported that the average player age was 27.028 years. This is because as an athlete’s body ages they are no longer able to do the same incredible feats they could do in their youth. Their body deteriorates with age quicker than a less active person’s body from all of the additional use (Pollock, 1987). The U.S. Census Bureau reported that the average age for an adult male to be married in 2005 was 27.1 years old with that number steadily increasing consistently since 1960. Since geeks can now take Zumba classes, run on the tread mill while surfing the web, and partner with personal trainers at every corner fitness establishment, geeks start to catch up to the jocks in their late 20s in terms of physical prowess.
Physical prowess today is being replaced by mental capabilities. Someone that can think on their feet is almost more valuable than someone that can throw a homemade spear at a boar for dinner. Since intelligence is now becoming more valuable than abs, studies have shown that girls are leaning towards using IQ as criteria to look for in a guy. Jason Keagy, a behavioral ecologist at the University of Maryland in College Park, found that, “Males that are better problem-solvers are mating with more females” (Callaway 2009). Studies were done at Elon University showing women videos of intelligent men versus athletic men. The women were then asked to describe which men seemed most intelligent. They were unable to find a clear distinction between the intelligent men and the athletic men. However when asked which men they found the most attractive, they found the intelligent men the most attractive. Similar experiments have been conducted using birds leading to the theory that women desire men with intelligence over men with physical prowess. One of the possible reasons for this is that men with intelligence must have healthy brains and thus are desirable (Callaway 2009).
In today’s society, earning potential and high status can go hand in hand. While it is possible to achieve high status through other means than earning potential such as being a great athlete, writing an award winning novel, doing something ridiculous on Youtube, or being a Kardashian, the ability to make money is still considered one of the quickest ways to have a high status. In the novel the Great Gatsby, Gatsby shot to the tops of the socialite lists because of all of his new money. Nerds have been on to this concept for years. Movies like Can’t Buy Me Love have portrayed young Nick Cannons and Patrick Dempseys using money to strike a deal with the girl of their dreams who then helps them shoot to the top of the status rankings. Spoiler alert: it should probably also be mentioned that these nerds also end up with the girl at the end of the movies. Some athletes to hit the jack pot and make lots of money in professional sports, but as the NCAA boasts every March, many of its athletes go pro in something other than sports. However once they go pro in something other than sports, it is the nerds that had already been training to go pro in these other areas and are the best primed to shoot to the top of the earning spectrum. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg did not make their millions of dollars by hanging out with the cheerleaders on the team bus to the state championship. Since a nerd is typically better suited to earning money in today’s society because they are accustomed to hard, knowledge based work, they are an optimal pick for providing for a family.
The final aspects that a woman looks for in a man are someone who is emotionally faithful and committed. Let us all be honest for a minute as who is more committed than someone who is willing to argue for hours about the problems with the original Spiderman movies giving Peter Parker the natural ability to create web instead of having to develop a machine to shoot web for him. Did they not read or follow the original story at all? (Peter Parker ended up with Mary Jane too, by the way) Since nerds have spent much of their whole lives hoping to get a chance with the Amanda Jones (Some Kind of Wonderful) in this world, they are more willing to listen to a girl and be there for her when things get rough. A nerd is not just looking for a one night hook up even if studies do show that intelligent people find more happiness in physical attraction and sex (Blanchflower, 2004). A nerd is willing to be there for a person for the long run, just as most fans stuck with Friday Night Lights through that awful third season. Since they were ostracized in the formative years, they have learned to value the meaningful relationships that are in their lives and are willing to demonstrate that behavior to the head cheerleaders of the world. Sure, girls like bad boys in their youth, but as they get older, they are looking for that emotional security that can only be found in a nerd.
While there are surely plenty of examples for the opposing sides to this argument, it is clear that nerds and geeks are just as likely to end up with the head cheerleaders and school presidents as the physically fit jocks in the long run. Mark Prokosch of Elon University found that, “women want the best of both worlds. Not only a physically attractive man, but somebody in the long term who can provide for them” (Callaway, 2009). The movie Revenge of the Nerds may have been one of the first cinematic representations of a nerd winning the heart of the beautiful and sweepingly adored popular girl, but more and more representations can be seen on TV (The Big Bang Theory) and in our everyday lives. Nerds provide that perfect combination of adorable, attractive, and intelligence that makes them a sure fire favorite to win the heart of any girl from their mid twenties onward. Besides what girl would not want a guy (a geek or a nerd) that when given any chance at all is comfortable enough with who they are to step up to the plate and is unafraid of looking like a fool with even just the slightest hope of a chance with her, their very own Lloyd Dobler standing outside their window holding a boom box over his head. Just think. If you were Diane Court, would you honestly fall for Lloyd? The correct answer is yea.
Blanchflower, David G., and Andrew J. Oswald. “Money, Sex and Happiness: An Empirical Study.” Scandinavian Journal of Economics 106.3 (2004): 393-415. Print.
Callaway, Ewen. “Why Geeks Get the Girls.” New Scientist. 19 Aug. 2009. Web. 30 Mar. 2012. <http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17640-why-geeks-get-the-girls.html>.
Darwin, Charles. The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection: Or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life[,] and The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex. New York: Modern Library, 1936. Print.
Kinney, David A. “From Nerds to Normals: The Recovery of Identity among Adolescents from Middle School to High School.” Sociology of Education 66.1 (1993): 21-40. Print.
La Cerra, Peggy. “Why Relationships Are So Difficult” The Free Library 01 July 2011. 29 March 2012 <http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Why Relationships Are So Difficult.-a0266781012>.
Pollock, M. L. “Effect of Age and Training on Aerobic Capacity and Body Composition of Master Athletes.” Journal of Applied Physiology 62.2 (1987): 725-31. Print.
US CENSUS BUREAU. “Marrying Age in the United States.” Www.npr/org. Web. 29 Mar. 2012.