Study: Women Are Less Attracted to Men Who Have Cats In Their Dating Profile Pics

Cats can ruin a relationship before it even gets started, according to science.
Cats can ruin a relationship before it even gets started, according to science.
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Numerous strategies and tips exist for putting your best foot forward in an online dating profile. You should be seen with friends, enjoying the outdoors, and maybe in a snapshot with your beloved pooch. But if you’re a man seeking a woman, it might be inadvisable to post a picture of you and your cat.

That’s the conclusion of researchers at Colorado State University and Boise State University, who published their findings in the journal Animals. In two surveys, more than 1300 heterosexual women aged 18 to 24 were shown photos of two men, aged 20 and 21, who posed for photos with and without a cat in their arms. In a questionnaire, the women assessed the men on perceived attributes like personality, masculinity, femininity, and “dateability.”

Cradling a cat had a negative impact across the board. In the first survey, when one of the men was feline-free, 38 percent of 708 respondents said they were likely or very likely to be receptive to a casual dating dynamic. A serious relationship was on the table for 37 percent. But with the cat in the picture, those warm feelings dropped to just 33 percent. Women who responded they would never be interested rose from 9 percent after viewing non-cat images to 14 percent when a furry friend appeared.

The man in the other survey fared no better, with 40 percent of 680 respondents uninterested in a date when he was alone compared to 45 percent when he was holding his pet. A serious relationship was a no-go for 41 percent of women, with the number rising to 45 percent when presented with the man and his cat.

Ultimately, the women found the photos of men with cats to signal the men were more neurotic, less masculine, and less desirable from a dating standpoint. But nearly half of respondents self-identified as dog lovers, which might indicate some pet biases are at work.

A photo of a man posing with cat, of course, does not exclude a love of dogs, nor does the absence of a pet indicate a preference for either cats or dogs. But the survey does seem to provide evidence that the very presence of a cat will lead to some unfavorable assumptions. If you've been unlucky in online love, it may not be you. It might be your fluffball.

[h/t CNN]

Wednesday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Computer Monitors, Plant-Based Protein Powder, and Blu-ray Sets

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Amazon
As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 2. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

Why Your Christmas Lights Always Get Tangled, According to Science

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iStock

A Christmas tree isn't a Christmas tree without those pretty colored lights, right? OK, no problem. You stored them in a box marked "Xmas lights" 11 months ago. You know where the box is. Now you just have to open the box, grab the lights, and—

That's where it gets tricky. Unless you're very lucky, or extremely well organized, the lights are likely all tangled up; soon you're down on your hands and knees, struggling to untangle a spaghetti-like jumble. (And it's not just you: A couple of years ago, the British grocery chain Tesco hired temporary "Christmas light untanglers" for the holiday season.) But why are Christmas lights so prone to tangling in the first place—and can anything be done about it?

Why do Christmas lights get tangled in the first place?

There are really two separate problems, explains Colin Adams, a mathematician at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and the author of The Knot Book, an introduction to the mathematical theory of knots. First, the cord on which the lights are attached is prone to tangling—just as headphone and earbud cords are (or, in the past, telephone handset cords).

Several years ago, physicists Dorian Raymer and Douglas Smith, then at the University of California, San Diego, did a study to see just how easily cords can get tangled. They put bits of string of various lengths in a cube-shaped box, and then mechanically rotated the box so that the strings tumbled around, like socks in a dryer, repeating the experiment more than 3400 times. The first knots appeared within seconds. More than 120 different types of knots spontaneously formed during the experiment. They also found—perhaps not surprisingly—that the longer the string, the more likely it was to become knotted (few knots formed in strings shorter than 18 inches, they noted). As the length of the string increased, the probability of a knot forming approached 100 percent.

The material that the string (or cord) is made of is important too; a more flexible cord is more likely to tangle than a less flexible one. And while the length of the cord matters, so does its diameter: In general, long cords get tangled more easily than short ones, but a cord with a large diameter will be less flexible, which reduces the risk of knotting. In other words, it's the ratio of length to diameter that really matters. That's why a garden hose can get tangled—it's relatively stiff, but it's also very long compared to its diameter.

But that's not the end of the story. If a cord has a metal wire inside it—as traditional Christmas lights do—then it can acquire a sort of "natural curvature," Jay Miller, a senior research scientist at the Connecticut-based United Technologies Research Center, tells Mental Floss. That means that a wire that's been wrapped around a cylindrical spool, for example, will tend to retain that shape.

"Christmas lights are typically spooled for shipping or packing, which bends metal wire past its 'plastic limit,' giving it natural curvature approximately the size of the spool it was wound around," Miller says. Christmas lights can be even harder to straighten than other wound materials because they often contain a pair of intertwined wires, giving them an intrinsic twist.

And then there's the additional problem of the lights. "Christmas lights are doubly difficult, once things get tangled, because there are all of these little projections—the lights—sticking out of them," Adams says. "The lights get in the way of each other, and it makes it very difficult to pull one strand through another. That means once you're tangled, it's much harder to disentangle."

How do you fix tangled Christmas lights?

What, then, can be done? One option would be for manufacturers to make the cord out of a stiff yet elastic material—something that would more readily "bounce back" from the curvature that was imparted to it while in storage. A nickel-titanium alloy known as Nitinol might be a candidate, says Miller—but it's too expensive to be a practical choice. And anyway, the choice of material probably makes little difference as long as the lights still protrude from the cord. Perhaps the biggest breakthrough in recent years has been the proliferation of LED "rope lights" that don't employ traditional bulbs at all; rather, they use LEDs embedded within the rope-like cord itself. Of course, these can still get tangled up in the manner of a garden hose, but without those pesky protrusions, they're easier to untangle.

A simpler solution, says Adams, is to coil the lights very carefully when putting them away, ideally using something like twist-ties to keep them in place. (Martha Stewart has proposed something similar, using sheets of cardboard instead of twist-ties.)

Meanwhile, the mathematicians have some advice if you find yourself confronted with a hopelessly tangled, jumbled cord: Find one of the "free" ends, and work from there.

"Eventually," Adams assures us, "you will succeed."