I want you to take a look at these two pictures below. On the left is our famous Trump and on the right is Hugh Hefner. How handsome are they?

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 4.54.24 PM

Well now take a look at new pictures? Rate how handsome they become?

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 4.57.27 PM

This phenomenon Handsome-Trump Syndrome, which I just made up, is related to the mate choice copying. Mate choice copying is the idea that particular individual appears more attractive, and appealing because all the other opposite sexes are into that individual for mating. It’s like the product which one really wants to buy because everyone is buying that product. It must be a really good product. There is something about it.

With regards to human mating, a female would judge an individual with so many partners as handsome Don Juan because he has been seen with so many different partners. However, mate choice copying is not limited to females only; the mate choice phenomenon is observed in both sexes. In nonhuman animals, mate copying is observed and documented in many species, especially birds and fishes (Place et al., 2010).

Some experimental studies has also shown that mate choice copying exists in humans. (Again, aren’t Trump and Hugh Hefner look more handsome with the models?)

For instance, Place et al. (2010) found that participants who observed real world speed- dating videos, which resulted in successful second dates and unsuccessful second dates changed the ratings of attractiveness of the opposite sex in the video differently. After observing the speed dating that did not result in second dates (no perceived interest), females decreased their ratings in attractiveness of the male in the video for both short-term and long-term partners. The reverse change, increased in attractiveness ratings of the male, was observed when the females realized that the speed dating led to second date. The same pattern of increased attractiveness in females was also observed in males when males saw speed-dating video of successful second date, but males did not decrease their ratings when there was not perceived interests for second date.

In another study Waynforth (2010), females changed the original ratings of less attractive males (original photo) into much higher attractiveness when same females were told two week later that the same less attractive male was dating with highly attractive female ( couple photo- less attractive man with high attractive woman). Those men who were rated by females as high on attractiveness (individual original photo) became lower in attractiveness 2 weeks later when the same female participants were told that the highly attractive man was dating less attractive woman. (hmm Thought: He was handsome originally, but there might be something wrong with him! Why is he with less attractive partner! Gosh!)

Mate choice copying even influences our very neural attentional biases to the potential mates. The eye-tracker study by Yorzinski and Platt et al. (2010) showed that females significantly spent more time gazing at men, when the male photograph was showed together with attractive partner on the side than the same men with no female on the side (individual photograph). For men, the attentional bias did not reach to statistical significance.

Tips: You would be perceived by opposite sex as more attractive if you are seen (dating) with attractive opposite sex. You will even become more desirable. You must be something. You will have this handsome-trump syndrome.


Alleyne, R. (2009, September 11). The Hugh Hefner syndrome – how a good-looking partner makes you more attractive. Retrieved October 9, 2015, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/6169216/The-Hugh-Hefner-syndrome-how-a-good-looking-partner-makes-you-more-attractive.html

Bradford, A. (2015, August 20). 10 Quotes That Show Exactly What Donald Trump Thinks About Women. Retrieved October 9, 2015, from http://deepleftfield.info/10-quotes-that-show-exactly-what-donald-trump-thinks-about-women/

Place, S. S., Todd, P. M., Penke, L., & Asendorpf, J. B. (2010). Humans show mate copying after observing real mate choices. Evolution and Human Behavior, 31(5), 320-325. doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2010.02.001

Waynforth, D. (2007). Mate choice copying in humans. Human Nature, 18(3), 264-271. doi:10.1007/s12110-007-9004-2

Yorzinski, J. L., & Platt, M. L. (2010). Same-sex gaze attraction influences mate-choice copying in humans. Plos one, 5 (2).


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