Intuitive heuristics: Is the 20% rule accurate or not?

The 20% rule is used as a general assumption that the female population generally only finds the top 20% of men attractive. Let’s look at this in terms of the OKCupid Data.

I haven’t taken calculus in a long time, but you can estimate the “area under the curve” by sections in order to find out an approximation of total volume under the curve. Total volume contrasted by total volume in each section will give approximate values as to percentages of the population. Let’s look at it:


There are approximately 6 areas. Let’s say for the sake of argument that only the top 2 are attractive as “medium” is generally not attractive.

  • Total area = 28% + 27% + 18% + 9% + 4% + 1% = 87%

Theoretically, it should add up to 100%, but it’s just an approximation. What matters are the ratios.

  • Attractive men, according to women = [(4% + 1%) / 87%] * 100 = 5.7%

We also know that women do not take pure physical attractiveness into account when rating someone attractive. This is why the messaging data is skewed along with other hypergamic impulses. This renders this exercise is pretty much somewhat only semi-useful.

Basically, the usefulness of this is to understand that unless you are in the top 5.7% of physically attractive men, you probably aren’t going to get women interested you based on physical appearance alone.

Overall, we could probably expect a similar “trend” as this graph for women if we based it on height, status, or other factors. Thus, if we look at what the rate at solely “above average” we get:

  • Above average men, according to women = [(9% +4% + 1%) / 87%] * 100 = 16.1%

Thus, this generally verifies the 20% rule as a decent heuristic in terms of men who women are attractive to.

Interestingly, when you compare the message and message response rates you get this:


It’s women more than men who have an “out-of-your-league” mentality when it compares to interest in the opposite sex. The downward trends on each attractiveness level on both charts show that both sexes drive assortive mating. Assortive mating is where say 9s pair off with other 9s, 8s pair off with other 8s, 7s pair off with other 7s, and so on.

This along with with the data above also show that women are also more judgmental than men when it comes to filtering criteria. Nothing we didn’t know already, although it goes against typical hearsay that men are too judgmental. In fact, this protestation is simply projection from women when in fact they are much more ruthless in filtering criteria for men.

Generally speaking, this makes sense because “good looks” for men do not necessarily indicate the ability of a man to be a Protector and Provider. On the other hand, we expect that “good looks” is a relatively accurate indicator of the reproductive health and fertility of a woman, which gives us an accurate gaussian bell curve for physical appearance attractiveness in women.

What can we learn from this as Christians?

If you’re a woman who desires to be married, strive to be godly and physically attractive. Don’t fall into false humility by assuming being physically attractive is bad or an idol in any way.

If you’re a man who desires to be married, strive to be physically attractive too based on assortive mating principles, but other factors such as being a strong Protector and leader as well as Provider also play a role.

Also, women are more judgmental.

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6 Responses to Intuitive heuristics: Is the 20% rule accurate or not?

  1. Pingback: Intuitive heuristics: Is the 20% rule accurate or not? –

  2. theasdgamer says:

    OkCupid is based totally on looks. It isn’t significant for society at large. Bars are a better gauge of women’s behavior because there men have the ability to demonstrate social intelligence and confidence, which arouse women. This is irrespective of a man’s looks. Bald, short, fat men may have excellent social intelligence and confidence and get laid a lot in bars.

    The rule is that top 20% of men get 80% of the sex with women. Lots of those men are short, fat, bald, etc. Physical attractiveness is relatively unimportant for women. Lots of handsome men go to bars and don’t get laid.

    Being a good provider means that a woman is less likely to divorce you, not give you more sex. Lots of good providers get relatively little sex from their wives. Sex tends to decline as the length of marriage increases.

    Game is the key ingredient (e.g., Song of Solomon) for getting sex. Showing a capacity for violence enables a man to wet the loins of women. Maidens heralded David’s war exploits in song.

    Leadership demonstrates power, which arouses women. Bald, short, fat men can be excellent leaders. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is a troll who got laid a lot.

    Work out at the gym because you want to be fit, strong, etc., not to get women. Men should be able to get women if the men have adequate social intelligence and confidence.

  3. Zhuo says:

    For the last paragraph, did you mean “assertive male principles” or “assortive?”

    I love how you just add “Also, women are more judgemental.” Haha, good to know!

  4. @ Zhuo

    Assortive mating principles… I mentioned assortive mating earlier in the post!

  5. Zhuo says:

    Nevermind, I reread the article.

  6. Pingback: Tinder reaffirms the 80/20 rule | Christianity and masculinity

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