Research shows that although good looks are still important, it is a kind heart that makes a girl go weak at the knees. Psychologists discovered that women are much more likely to fall for the man who shows generosity and a willingness to help other people.
In a series of tests, men who had "altruistic interests", such as working for a charity, were regarded as "significantly more desirable." Although being devoted to good causes will not make a man more physically appealing, it does make him a better candidate for a marriage or simply a one-night stand, the study revealed.
The findings came after experiments involving 150 female undergraduates at McMaster University, Ontario, Canada. They were shown a set of fictional dating adverts, each including a man's photo and a brief description.
Researchers changed the wording so that some women saw an "altruistic" version, while others got a "neutral" one. For example, one group was shown a man who played guitar in a children's hospital, while a second group was shown the same photo but told he simply performed "in a local establishment".
Results revealed that the women found the "nice guy" more attractive.
Dr Pat Barclay, who led the study, said: "In some of the profiles we gave hints to indicate kind, altruistic interests such as 'I enjoy helping people' and 'I volunteer at the food bank'. We found that women showed a strong preference for relationships with altruistic men, even though the clues to altruistic traits were fairly subtle. This suggests that women are attuned to generosity, and that altruism serves a purpose in mate selection.
"Folk wisdom apparently argues that 'nice guys finish last' and that they are less attractive than 'bad boys'. However, this is often an unfair comparison."
Other research has suggested that women are drawn to macho males regarded as "heroic risk takers".
Dr Barclay said: "Public generosity is a way to signal good character to potential mates. Altruism is a costly behaviour that seems to bring no obvious or immediate benefit to the altruist. However, as we have seen in this study, it seems to serve an important purpose in mate choice.
"If a man is kind and generous towards others - even strangers - then there's a good chance that he'd make a good and generous parent."
The report is published in the British Journal of Psychology.