Are Narcissists As Sexy As They Think?

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Narcissists are convinced they are God’s gift, but what do the rest of us really think?

Narcissists themselves think they are sexy. In comparison with non-narcissists, they claim to:

  • find it easy to find new partners,
  • have alternatives to their current partner,
  • and have had more sexual partners overall.

But they are preening, manipulative, self-obsessed, narcissists; they would say that. How about we use more objective measures than just asking narcissists how great they think they are?

Dufner et al. (2013) have done just that in a new series of studies published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

In these narcissists were rated by strangers, by their friends and had their dating skills tested in the field.

Scoring phone numbers

In the first study participants looked at written profiles of people either low, medium or high in narcissism. They then rated them for their appeal as both a friend and as a partner.

What emerged was that the profiles high in narcissism did not predict friend-appeal but were rated as more attractive as potential mates.

Score one for the narcissists.

A second study moved out of the lab and asked the friends of real, live narcissists about how attractive and socially bold their friends were. Once again the narcissists emerged as more socially bold and attractive than their non-narcissistic peers.

Score two for the narcissists.

Finally men were sent out onto the street to try and get the telephone numbers of passing women. When the results came in, it was the narcissists who had scored the most phone numbers and who were rated most attractive by those they approached.

Score three for the narcissists.

Overall it turned out that it wasn’t just that narcissists were better looking (although they often were) or that they had higher self-esteem; it was their self-enhancing thoughts that made them more attractive to others. They thought they were great, so other people thought they were great.

These self-enhancing thoughts enhanced their social boldness, which turned other people on.

Your inner narcissist

For those non-narcissists among us, bear in mind that this research is all about short-term mate appeal. Over the long-term, many quickly get fed up with narcissists’ self-obsessed behaviour (more on the paradoxes of narcissism). But in the short-term the narcissists have it.

So, if you’re a perfectly normal non-narcissist looking to boost your sex-appeal, it’s time to get in touch with your inner narcissist. To give you a head-start, here are the type of questions that narcissists strongly endorse (from Jonason & Webster, 2010):

  1. I tend to want others to admire me.
  2. I tend to want others to pay attention to me.
  3. I tend to seek prestige or status.
  4. I tend to expect special favours from others.

If you’re thinking like this then you’re thinking like a narcissist.

Not that I’m recommending it of course.

Image credit: Hannah Kate

About the author


Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick". You can follow PsyBlog by email, by RSS feed, on Twitter and Google+.

Published: 3 July 2013

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