Women love men who love kids

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When it comes to online dating profiles, conventional wisdom deems that photos with kids are a huge no-no, the kind that sends Tinderellas swiping left. But new research suggests that kids can really help men up their game, at least if they want a long-term relationship.

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That's right — bring on the little buggers. Women find guys who are adept with kids more attractive, according to a 2014 study in the Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment. Nicolas Guéguen, a professor of social and cognitive psychology at the University of South Brittany, based his findings on a field experiment — outside a local bar. They suggest that for the long haul, women want more than a provider who makes bank; they want a loving father too.

Women were three times more likely to give their phone number when the male volunteer acted affectionately toward the baby.

Images of celebrity dads:

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Celeb dads with their kids
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Women love men who love kids
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 16: (L-R) Romeo Beckham, Harper Beckham and David Beckham attend the Burberry 'London in Los Angeles' event at Griffith Observatory on April 16, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Vespa/Getty Images for Burberry)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 08: David Beckham and son Romeo Beckham attend day nine of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 8, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29: Actor Will Smith and son Actor Jaden Smith attend the 'After Earth' premiere at Ziegfeld Theater on May 29, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Jennifer Graylock/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 09: Ben Affleck is seen with his daughter Violet Anne Affleck on February 09, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by GONZALO/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 17: Tom Cruise and Suri Cruise are seen leaving chelsea piers at Streets of Manhattan on July 17, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Alo Ceballos/FilmMagic)
Actor Brad Pitt and children Pax Jolie-Pitt (L), Shiloh Jolie-Pitt (C) and Maddox Jolie-Pitt arrive for the U.S. premiere of Universal Pictures 'Unbroken,' December 15, 2014 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 30: Brad Pitt and his son Knox Jolie-Pitt attend the MotoGP British Grand Prix race at Silverstone ahead of the release of documentary Hitting The Apex. Pitt is presenting the film, which is out in cinemas 2nd September and on DVD 7th September at Silverstone Circuit on August 30, 2015 in Northampton, England (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 18: Actor Peter Facinelli (c) and daughters Luca Bella Facinelli (r) and Lola Ray Facinelli (L) arrive at the Los Angeles Premiere 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 18, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 18: Actor Hugh Jackman and Ava Eliot Jackman are seen on scooters in Soho on October 18, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/FilmMagic)
ATLANTA, GA - JULY 21: Usher (R) and his son, Usher Raymond V, attend Usher's New Look Foundation - World Leadership Conference & Awards 2011 - Day 2 at Cobb Galleria on July 21, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Chris McKay/Getty Images for Usher's New Look Foundation)
Johnny Depp & Wife Vanessa Paradis Take Their Two Children For A Picnic In A London Park. (Photo by Antony Jones/UK Press via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 04: Jon Stewart and son Nathan Thomas Stewart attend the Cleveland Cavaliers vs New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden on March 4, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)
NASHVILLE, TN - AUGUST 15: Musician Tim McGraw, left, performs with his daughter Gracie McGraw on the 'Shotgun Rider' tour at Bridgestone Arena on August 15, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for Big Machine Records)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 03: Will Ferrell and his son attend a basketball game between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on April 3, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 23: Will Ferrell and his son Axel Ferrell attend a basketball game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on February 23, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/GC Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 21: Honoree Matthew McConaughey (R) accepts the American Cinematheque Award with Vida Alves McConaughey (L) onstage at the 28th American Cinematheque Award honoring Matthew McConaughey at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 21, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 25: Tobey Maguire and Jennifer Meyer with their children Ruby Maguire and Otis Maguire are seen on January 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 20: Actor Jack Black (C) with sons Thomas and Samuel attend the Milk + Bookies Second Annual Reading Room Sponsored By Children's Book Of The Month Club at Skirball Cultural Center on March 20, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/WireImage)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his wife Gisele Bundchen embrace their son Benjamin Brady after a joint workout with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at NFL football training camp, in Foxborough, Mass., Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
ASCOT, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 31: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Chris Hemsworth and daughter India Rose Hemsworth attend day 2 of the Audi Polo Challenge at Coworth Park on May 31, 2015 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CA - AUGUST 24: (L-R) Blue Ivy Carter, recording artists Jay Z and Beyonce speak onstage during the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by MTV/MTV1415/Getty Images for MTV)
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Earlier studies have also found that women feel more attracted to men who have an affinity for children, but most of this research involved surveying and showing participants photographs in a laboratory. Guéguen told OZY in an email that he wanted to confirm this allure in a real-world setting. So he recruited three 20-year-old male volunteers, as well as two mothers and their infants. When a single woman sat at a table, a male volunteer took a post at a nearby table. A minute later, a mother arrived with her baby. The male volunteer greeted the mom as his "dear sister." Then he either kissed and stroked the baby while chatting with his "sister" about how her child ate and slept, or simply said "Hi, baby," and asked about her car troubles. After his "sister" left, the male volunteer made his move on the woman he eyed earlier and asked for her number.

After Casanova left, a female volunteer asked the participant to complete a survey. The 49 participants, ages 18 to 25, who agreed to do so rated the male volunteer's attractiveness — overall and as a long-term partner — as well as how fatherly, kind and loving he was on a scale of 1 to 10. Women were three times more likely to give out their numbers when the male volunteer acted affectionately toward the baby, and in these cases, they gave him significantly more positive ratings in every category.

But apparently how a woman treats children has no effect on her attractiveness to men.

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Guéguen noted that he used a small sample size from a bar in Brittany — definitely not representative of all women — although he might go on to replicate the experiment in other countries. The study also doesn't reflect the real-life trade-offs between financial stability and paternal qualities, said David Geary, a professor of psychology at the University of Missouri. For example, Guéguen could have determined how dressing the male volunteer in a suit affected the women's ratings. "Women like nice paternal guys, but there comes a point where he needs to make a certain amount of money," he said.

Still, Guéguen's study makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. Since men have what's called a short-term mating strategy — having sex with no long-term cost — they care more about finding a fertile (read: physically attractive) woman; a classic 1995 study found that how a woman treated children had no effect on her attractiveness to men. But women are more sensitive to contextual variables, seeking men with not only the ability to acquire resources, but also a willingness to invest in them and their kids. Plus, "good dad qualities" might also make good partner qualities, said David Buss, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. The result? The entire family fares better. "The better the husband-wife relationship, the better she treats him, the better he treats the children," Geary said.

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