Being extraverted and having stable emotions are two of the most attractive personality traits, research finds.
Extraverts are generally outgoing, self-confident and cheerful and can also be impulsive, sensation-seekers.
Emotional stability is linked to being better at dealing with stress and minor frustrations.
People who are emotionally stable usually find it easier to control their urges and are mostly unselfconscious.
However, both personality traits may also explain the attraction of the ‘bad boy’ and ‘bad girl’.
Psychopaths and narcissists tend to be rated as being more extraverted and stable.
Nevertheless, both psychopaths and narcissists, despite their attractive qualities, can make terrible partners.
Psychopaths are very manipulative and empathise little, while narcissists are self-involved and can be highly disagreeable.
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 128 women who judged the personality profiles of various men.
One was high in the ‘dark triad’ of personality factors.
The dark triad includes narcissists, psychopaths and Machiavellians.
The results showed that the profile high in the dark triad traits was consistently seen as more attractive.
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).