Men with a dark and brooding appearance may be more attractive to some women because of the character traits they suggest, a new study finds.
Attraction to certain dark traits may also be linked to having more offspring.
Psychologists showed women a selection of men’s faces which had been morphed to suggest certain key negative personality traits.
The three character traits are known to psychologists as the ‘dark triad’:
- Psychopathy: being selfish, callous, remorseless and anti-social.
- Machiavellianism: being manipulative, having low morals and exploiting others.
- Narcissism: having excessive amounts of pride, vanity and a massive ego. At the same time having little empathy for others.
Dr Minna Lyons, one of the study’s authors, explained the results in detail:
“We examined whether the preferences of the women surveyed for the Dark Triad personality traits in men’s faces were related to reproductive success.
Previous studies have found that out of the three Dark Triad features, narcissism was associated with physical and psychological health benefits in men as well as social success.
We predicted that women’s preference for narcissism could be most strongly related to their reproductive success, and as we found that women with preference for high narcissistic men’s faces gave birth to more offspring.
Women with strong preference for Machiavellian male faces reported fewer offspring than their same-aged peers with weak preference.
Those with a preference for psychopathic men’s faces was unrelated to women’s current number of offspring.
These findings suggest that in today’s society women’s preference for some of the Dark Triad traits in men may be related to their reproductive success.”
The study was published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior (Marcinkowska et al., 2016).
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
Brooding man image from Shutterstock