Australians find having a criminal record the most unattractive trait in a potential partner – with being a smoker and having bad breath a close second according to new research.
The survey also highlighted a number of bad habits that have intensified as a result of the pandemic including nail-biting and workaholism.
The Shosha study of 1,000 adult respondents nationwide, which was carried out by an independent research firm, found having a criminal past the least attractive characteristic of a partner for almost four in 10 (36%) Australians.
Being a smoker was considered unattractive by more than a quarter (26%) of respondents while bad breath (23%), and bad skin (7%) also featured. Australians are more tolerant of dandruff in prospective partners with just 3% believing this to be the most unappealing feature.
The research also found when it comes to the barriers to having a healthier lifestyle, overeating was the most likely habit Australians wanted to change rated highest by 29% of survey respondents.
Smoking was the next most likely vice they wanted to quit (24%), followed by nail-biting (21%), excess consumption of alcohol (15%) and workaholism (12%).
Less than a third (30%) of adults say they have no habits they want to break.
The impact of the pandemic has increased the level at which some habits have a negative impact on a healthy lifestyle. In particular, more than half (58%) of Australians say they are overeating more, 54% say their alcohol consumption has increased, 47% are smoking more, 45% of workaholics say they are working more and 35% of nail biters have increased the frequency of this habit.
The research also investigated the consumption of e-cigarettes with almost a third (31%) of adult Australians having tried vaping at some stage. The study found 17% of respondents had used e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid while 14% had tried it for another reason.
Males were more likely than females to have used electronic cigarettes to quit smoking (21% vs 12%) and males were also more likely to have vaped for another reason (16% vs 12%). Half (50%) of males would advise a friend or family member to try e-cigarettes to help them stop smoking – compared to 38% of females and a national average of 44%.
Psychologist Sara Chatwin says it’s interesting to see how offensive Australians find smoking and says it ‘flies in face of the emphasis we put on good health.’
“The odour of smoke hangs around on skin and clothing and that’s pretty unattractive,” she says. “I think the smell has a lot to do with it too, people are reluctant to want to kiss a smoker as they may not enjoy the taste, similarly addiction or dependence is not attractive for many people.
Chatwin says the increase in habits such as over-eating, nail-biting, excessive consumption of alcohol and workaholism were all covert coping mechanisms that were easy to hide while in lockdown or at restricted social levels.
“Australians have had more time on their hands and their anxiety levels seem to have increased so many looked for these things to provide them with some comfort during the trying times. People tend to be resistant to change and often allow bad habits to kick in during times of stress,” she says.
Nabhik Gupta, spokesperson for Shosha, a retailer of e-cigarettes, who commissioned the research to better understand the barriers to smoking cessation says it is concerning to see increased consumption of cigarettes as a result of the pandemic.
“We know that stress is a key factor in cigarette consumption and a prolonged period of uncertainty such as the pandemic may exacerbate these cravings,
“What we need to be concerned about is the impact of excessive consumption of carcinogens such as cigarettes and alcohol on the long term health outcomes of Australians,” he says.