It is enough to make every erudite woman weep.

Research suggests that when it comes to choosing a romantic partner, men are actively turned off by intelligence - and can only overcome this massive obstacle if they find the woman particularly attractive.

So it seems that someone like Hollywood heartthrob George Clooney, whose British human rights lawyer wife Amal is as admired for her intellect as her beauty, is very much the exception rather than the rule.

Scientists from the Warsaw School of Economics in Poland studied the results of more than 4,000 speed-dates where around 560 people had four minutes to get to know potential partners.


The participants, all students from Columbia University in New York, then rated each other for attractiveness and intelligence.

Women were impressed by men who were either good-looking or clever. But the male view of what makes the perfect date was far more complicated.

Men put more of a premium on physical appearance and being relatively clever helped very attractive women stand out from the crowd.

However, the researchers found that male daters tended to have a 'line in the sand' after which intelligence is seen as an 'economic bad' - meaning that having less of something is better than having extra.

In other words, beyond a certain point, the cleverer a woman becomes, the better looking she has to be to be worth pursuing.

The study, in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, states: 'While seeking partners, women do not exclude men who are perceived as less physically attractive. Even those men who are not perceived by women as physically attractive may receive positive speed-dating decisions, if only those men seem intelligent.

'Males demonstrate a clearly different approach to mate selection. In men's perception, for relatively high values of women's perceived intelligence, this personal trait turns out to be an economic bad.

'Increases in already high levels of women's intelligence have to be compensated for by increases in women's perceived physical attractiveness to keep the probability of being chosen by men the same.'

Relationships expert Pauline Brown said: 'This study fits in with what I'm observing and hearing: Clever women - graduates - who feel they have to dumb themselves down and hide their brains to be attractive to men.'

The Glasgow-based counsellor added: 'A clever woman may make a man feel insecure; he might question whether he can keep her interested because intelligence implies broad horizons, high expectations and a natural curiosity.'