pseudo-science behind Barney Stinson’s Hot Crazy Matrix (HCM) from How I Met Your Mother is now officially backed by a proper UK research study.
In case you need a refresher, the Hot Crazy Matrix maps a person’s level of ‘hotness’ (looks), against their level of ‘crazy’ (personality). Barney’s guiding principle was equilibrium. A girl or guy is allowed to be as equally crazy as they are hot. His views were expanded upon by gun-toting Texan Lawyer Dana McLendon, whose OG YouTube lecture and subsequent copies are still educating millions of us to this day.
The Universal Hot Crazy Matrix
For those playing along at home, McLendon identifies…
- The No Go Zone: women who are both unattractive and crazy.
- The Danger Zone: women who are very attractive, but very crazy (“This is where your tyres get slashed and you end up in jail.”).
- The Fun Zone: women who are moderately attractive and not too crazy.
- The Date Zone: attractive women who are a little bit crazy.
- The Wife Zone: women who are very attractive but only slightly crazy.
- The Unicorn Zone*: mythical and elusive, near-extinct attractive group of women who are hardly crazy, but a 10 hot (“Capture it safely, keep it alive… we would like to study it.”).
*Is it is a coincidence that ‘unicorn’ is the same term for a bisexual woman who moonlights in a no-strings-attached threesome?
Misogyny and the gun holstered to McLendon’s belt aside, let’s get back to the science. The virality of McLendon’s video is precisely what inspired psychologists at Bishop Grosseteste University and the Nottingham Trent University to answer some of the most pressing questions of our times:
- What are the real motivations behind our mating choices?
- What characteristics are we willing to overlook in relationships?
- And do they differ between men and women?
Psychologists tracked the choices of hundreds of participants across two studies: The Attractive x Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) matrix study, and The Attractive x Wealth Matrix Study. For reference, the level of ‘crazy’ was tracked as a measure of BPD.
Participants were presented with combinations of:
- High or low attractive faces
- High or low BPD profiles
- High or low wealth status
They were then asked on a 0 – 100 scale, the “extent you would want to be romantically involved with this person” on a short-term and long-term dating basis. It is unclear how the profiles were sourced, or if participants were just thrown into the shitshow that is Tinder.
The results are in…
It proves exactly what we thought it would. Deep down, guys are really shallow and women are gold diggers. Is anyone else surprised? Behind such funny and relatable content is invariably truth.
- Attractiveness was the number one priority for men.
- Men were willing to go for high BDP women in both short and long term romantic relationships.
- Men showed zero consideration for anticipating the future repercussions of their decisions.
- Personality and wealth drove women’s long term dating priorities.
- They would engage in high BDP only in short term encounters.
- They presented careful rationale in their decision making, prioritizing the long-term view. Financial and emotional stability was preferred, over levels of attractiveness. Women regarded attractiveness as a hindrance to a long term relationship(!)
The psychologists noted, “it would be thought as the optimal option, that the most attractive wealthy men would elicit higher datable ratings, however, low attractive wealthy men were more desirable.”
So the danger zone for men: hot and crazy; and or women: hot and rich. The combination of high attraction and high wealth presented a glaring red flag for women, who presumed the highly revered combination would most likely cheat. Women rated moderate attraction and moderate wealth as a safer bet long term.
Good news, fellas! By the sound of it, these results aren’t an anomaly. Psychologists pinned all their findings down to evolution.
Evolution steps in with answers
Psychologists agreed that HCM and CMM align with the evolutionary theory of mate preferences, predominantly developed out of each sexes responsibilities surrounding parenting. Whether it’s taking place in 2020, or thousands of years ago on the plains of the Savannah – no matter how hot crazy and wild the sex, if it leads to pregnancy, it’s still the woman’s problem.
Women seek moderately stable dudes who can provide for her and her babies. Bonus points if he’s a little deformed or old because no other women will want him. Men, however, seek the best looking chick with the most bangin’ bod, as it signals she will be fit to give birth and pass on his DNA. Her personality matters little to him in the long run, because if she turns out to be crazy, he doesn’t need to stick around to raise her demon child.
Men are consciously driven to punch above their weight, caring little for the future. And women are drawn completely unconsciously to average-looking but moderately cashed-up blokes.
No matter how you feel about the study’s conclusive findings – maybe you’re offended, or perhaps you’re feverishly editing your dating app bio to include “Wife zone? Hit me up” – HCM is Bible. At the very least, this study has certainly added a bit more subtlety, facts, and figures into the debate.
I do, however, feel my responsibility as a woman includes making some further recommendations when discussing the Hot Crazy Matrix with your partner or girlfriend:
A) Tell her she’s your ‘unicorn’ (whichever definition is up to you)
B) Tread lightly on the whole crazy, thing – it’s sensitive territory.
Firstly, doctors have been misdiagnosing women’s legitimate illnesses as crazed hysteria for centuries. Secondly, most guys just use “all my exes are crazy” as a blanket excuse to deflect from dealing with their own insecurities and baggage. We always trust your previous exes over you.
And remember – women will play ball with crazy guys too, but only in the short term. So your mate with a few screws loose still has a shot.