Current Psychology

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 965–976 | Cite as

Do men help only beautiful women in social networks?

  • Sascha SchwarzEmail author
  • Lisa Baßfeld


Is the Social Network profile photo important when women need help? In two field experiments (N = 681), male and female participants received a help request from a woman of below-average, above-average (Study 1 and 2), or a woman of unknown physical attractiveness (Study 2). Men (but not women) responded more often, answered more detailed, and were more helpful and friendlier to the above-average physical attractive woman (Study 1 and 2), but if they replied, they also answered friendlier to the woman of unknown physical attractiveness (Study 2). In Study 3, participants (N = 298) reported their hypothetical helping intention in an experimental setting. The findings from all three studies indicate that these results are most likely interpretable considering males’ mating strategies and costly signal theory in contrast to the what-is-beautiful-is-good stereotype or attention boost explanation.


Attractiveness bias Evolutionary psychology Costly signaling Physical attractiveness Helping behavior Mating strategies 



We want to thank Dr. Sally M. Ischebeck for her help in data collection. Further, we would like to thank Daniel Farrelly and one anonymous reviewer for their careful and insightful reviews of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychologie (DGPs) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in Study 3. Due to the nature of the field experiments in Study 1 and 2, informed consent was not obtained prior to the participation of the study. However, all participants were debriefed after participation and encouraged to contact the first author.

Conflict of Interest

Sascha Schwarz declares that he has no conflict of interest. Lisa Baßfeld declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

12144_2018_86_MOESM1_ESM.docx (30 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC× 29.7 kb)
12144_2018_86_MOESM2_ESM.docx (30 kb)
ESM 2 (DOC× 29 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Human and Social SciencesUniversity of WuppertalWuppertalGermany

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