People with pathological personality traits — such as impulsiveness and neuroticism — have more luck in love, a new study finds.
Those with certain dark personality traits tend to have more partners and more children.
The conclusions come from almost 1,000 heterosexual men and women with a wide range of personality traits.
The researchers found some fascinating differences between men and women.
Men who were somewhat obsessive-compulsive tended to have more partners than their less compulsive competitors.
Amongst women, meanwhile, those who were highly neurotic were 34% more likely to have a partner.
Neurotic women were also 73% more likely to have more-than-the-average number of children.
The theory is that these personality traits have some advantages, despite being thought of as negative.
For example, the obsessive man is likely to have twice as much money as the non-obsessive man, the researchers found.
This may well be because society tends to reward those who are persistent at the same tasks and developing certain skills over time.
For women, a neurotic personality may be attractive because some of the associated behaviours can be captivating.
Being impulsive and taking risks, for example, tends to be attractive.
Behaving like this may also unconsciously signal attractiveness as living dangerously requires genetic fitness.
These results complement those from an earlier study testing the effects of conformity:
“When it comes to dating, both sexes prefer a non-conformist partner, a new study finds.
Although most people know a rebellious man is sexy; the results upend the common assumption that men prefer women who play by the rules.
Women in the study guessed that the personality trait of conformity would attract men, but it didn’t.[…]
The fact that women thought men would prefer conformity may be a leftover from more sexist times.
In the days when women were supposed to be agreeable, subdued and modest, the tendency to conformity would also have fitted the stereotype.
Thankfully those days are gone.”
The study was published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior (Vall et al., 2015).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
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