And young men may be subconsciously using that to their advantage
While it goes without saying that smokers and drinkers are putting their lives at risk with every puff and sip, it turns out if they are young men it could be doing wonders for their sex lives.
According to a new study published in Evolutionary Psychology, young men who smoke and drink are statistically more attractive to women who are looking for short-term partners rather than those who live abstemious clean lives.
The study, carried out at Ghent University by Eveline Vincke, claims that women looking for something casual reward “risky behaviour.” Polling 239 young women, Vincke found that her respondents rated men as more attractive in the short-term when they were visibly portrayed as occasional smokers and occasional or heavy drinkers.
However, when it came to former long-lasting relationships with men, the women polled revealed moderate-to-non-drinking men were more appealing.
“When searching for a long-term partner,” Vincke said, “Women prefer a man who has the willingness and capacity to protect and care for children. Consequently, women are attracted to kind men, physically strong men, and especially men with resources and status.
“In short-term mating, on the other hand, a man’s genetic quality is most important,” Vincke added, saying that “physical risk taking enhances male attractiveness, especially in short-term mating contexts.”
A second study, asking 171 young men to explain their attitudes to former short and long-term relationships, backed up Vincke’s results; the smokers and frequent drinkers amongst the group of men revealed themselves to be more interested in short-term relationships.
Vincke ultimately came to the conclusion that tobacco and alcohol consumption may actually be part of an evolutionarily-driven short-term mating strategy in men, and a successful one at that.
“Not only do these findings show that emphasising the physical harmful effects of cigarettes and alcohol... might not be effective,” she writes, “It may even turn out to be contra-productive.”