Extraverts with stable, or non-neurotic personalities are particularly attractive, research finds.
However, both of these personality traits also help explain the attraction of the ‘bad boy’ to women, who also tends to be laid-back and extraverted.
Narcissist and psychopaths are seen as both extraverted and having stable, non-neurotic personalities, the study found.
Both of these contribute to the attractiveness of men with ‘dark triad’ personalities.
The ‘dark triad’ of personality factors includes narcissism and psychopathy, along with Machiavellianism.
The study’s authors write:
“Women, particularly in respect of short-term mating, may be attracted to ‘bad boys’, possessing confidence, hard-headedness and an inclination to risk-take – all accurate descriptors of Dark Triad men; all attractive to women.”
Another explanation for the attractiveness of bad boys could be their superficial charm, the authors write:
“Women may be responding to DT men’s ability to ‘sell themselves’; a useful tactic in a co-evolutionary ‘arms race’ in which men convince women to pursue the former’s preferred sexual strategy.
This ability may derive from a ‘used-car dealer’ ability to charm and manipulate, and DT-associated traits such as assertiveness.
Men with a DT personality are undoubtedly well-placed to successfully implement such a strategy.”
The conclusions come from a study in which 128 young women were shown personality profiles of various men.
One was designed to be high in dark triad personality factors.
The results showed that women saw the ‘bad boy’ as more attractive, when appearance was held constant.
Here are the authors’ quick description of the dark triad personality traits:
“Narcissism is defined by a sense of entitlement, dominance and a grandiose self-view.[…]
Machiavellians are interpersonally duplicitous, insincere and extraverted.[…]
Psychopathy consists of callousness, a lack of empathy, and
antisocial, erratic behaviour.”
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
The study was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (Carter et al., 2014).