People who tend to put others’ well-being over their own and are quick to lend a helping hand may be rewarded by having more sex, and more sexual partners, than the average person, suggests a study released this week.
A team of researchers in Canada asked nearly 300 unmarried, heterosexual men and women a series of questions, including whether they did volunteer work or donated blood. Participants who scored high on the altruism questionnaire also reported attracting more interest from the opposite sex. They also tended to have more sex, both inside and outside of relationships, than others.
In case participants didn’t accurately report their own tendencies to be altruistic, the researchers also asked them to play a game that tested whether they were willing to donate potential monetary winnings. Again, the scientists found that the more selfless people were also more likely to report having better sex lives.
“Altruism may tangibly benefit mating in humans living in Western industrialized society,” the researchers wrote in their study in the British Journal of Psychology.
These findings help solve one piece of the puzzle of understanding altruism ― a trait that has been observed in a wide range of species, including fish, birds, monkeys, elephants and humans living in both modern societies and in hunter-gatherer tribes.
Helping others often comes at a personal cost. Even donating blood, something that most people have enough of to share, means getting pricked by a syringe. Yet we make such sacrifices, not just because we’re told we should, but because we feel good when we do.
According the theory of reciprocity ― one of the main hypotheses to explain the paradox of altruism ― individuals behave selflessly to receive help, or something else positive, in the future.
But it seems that, as the new findings suggest, selflessness also signals being a more desirable mate. This means our generous ancestors may have had more reproductive success, and that we have inherited their genes for generosity.
“If the more altruistic of our forebears were not only perceived as more attractive, but also had more sex, this would help explain why many modern humans have inherited the inclination to be altruistic,” neuroscientist Christian Jarrett wrote in BPS Research Digest.
So, if you’ve donated blood recently, you might want to mention it on your Tinder profile.