Brains over beauty? Men reveal "perfect woman" preferences

(CBS News) The beautiful, bold, and experienced mother with brains, a sense of humor, and a healthy sex drive who can cook is America's perfect woman, according to the results of a new poll completed by 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair.

The poll, conducted from June 12 to June 16, asked more than 1,000 adults what qualities among women are most and least desirable. Participants were also asked about taste in movies, the likelihood all women "eventually become their mothers," and questioned on the appeal of certain female television characters.

The results, revealed on "CBS This Morning," show men ranking brains far over beauty, preferring bold and experienced to sweet and innocent, and favoring someone who, above all, mothers well.

The results provoked varied responses from Glamour editor-in-chief Cindi Leive, New York Times' columnist John Tierney, and's deputy web editor Sarah Ball who joined a discussion on the broadcast Tuesday. 

"The fact that only one percent of men said [physical beauty] was important in a woman -- I'm not so sure people are telling the truth there," said Leive.

But Tierney points out while men may initially notice a woman for her looks, the human brain evolved to consider the rest.

"Well, I think looks definitely matter...but it's only the first thing....If you ask 'Why does this big brain exist? Why do men and women talk?' the best answer that's come recently from evolutionary psychologists is that language evolved for courtship. We basically learned to talk so that we could impress each other on dates and check each other out. And what they're checking is the stuff in this poll: is she smart, is she funny, is she kind, is she not crazy? Those are the things that really matter," he said.

Ball added, "[Men] want women, I think, who are, with the brains and humor being rated higher than beauty and sex drive...are really outspoken, bold and experienced. That could a professional setting, so I think it is positive in that sense."

Yet, the television character men would most like to marry is Penny from CBS's The Big Bang Theory, a pretty blonde known for her feisty nature and approachable personality rather than her intelligence, culinary skills, or maternal instincts.

"But you also see that they cast their perfect woman as Penny from the Big Bang Theory. She's the blonde, ditzy, girl-next-door. They passed over more serious women like Julianna Margulies from The Good Wife, or Megan Draper, for instance, career driven women. So there's a push-pull there, I think," Ball also pointed out.

The poll also showed nearly two-thirds of men belive a good woman is hard to find, a trend reflecting the fair amount of women who believe a good man is hard to find.

"One of the best pieces of advice is to put on your mirror 'You're no bargain either,'" joked Tierney.

The poll results will be published in the September edition of Vanity Fair.