What people believe they want and what they might actually prefer are not always the same thing. And in the case of being outperformed as an element of romantic attraction, the difference between genuine affinity and apparent desirability becomes clearer as the distance between two people gets smaller.
In matters of relative performance, distance influences attraction. For example, someone of greater intelligence seems attractive when they’re distant or far away in your mind. But less so when that same person is right next to you, according to a new study by a University at Buffalo-led research team published in the latest edition of the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.