If you’ve ever found yourself in the midst of a relationship with a legit psychopath and wondered, “How the hell did I end up here?” then you’re in luck. A new study has revealed that it’s not really your fault that you hooked up with the real-life Norman Bates—you’re hard-wired to do so.
Psychopaths are more attractive to most women. It seems crazy (no pun intended), but that’s what new research published in Evolutionary Psychology Science last month seems to suggest. Despite the fact that psychopaths aren’t particularly interested in loving, committed relationships, women seem to flock to them. What’s up with that?
It’s all about personality. According to the study out of Brock University in Ontario, Canada dudes with psychopathic qualities also have the ability to mimic more desirable characteristics that women seek in an ideal partner. “Psychopathic men have a personality style that makes them appear attractive to women in dating encounters. This may be because they are extra confident or feel at ease or know exactly what to say to get the attention of women,” said study author Kristopher Brazil.
Researchers aren’t sure why this happens. However, they do say that “one possibility is that they make men seem more interesting, exciting, and fun to engage with in conversations. Men exhibiting these traits may be effectively signaling that they are exciting partners and women may be responding with a preference for those traits in a short-term dating context.”
This is seen often in prisons, which is where much of the contextual research was taken from. “Psychopathy as a way of describing some people — mostly men — who have specific personality and behavioral tendencies has led to some enigmatic and quite frankly alarming findings from prisons, many of which had sexual and romantic consequences,” Brazil explained. “For instance, clinicians and psychologists working in prison settings have long known that inmates with more psychopathic features tenaciously try (i.e., are preoccupied with sex) and often succeed (i.e., must offer some attractive qualities, even if faked) at seducing prison staff, including clinical staff supposedly equipped with the tools to not be subverted by manipulation and charm that psychopathic men deploy.”
Their own research suggested the same. Brazil asked 46 male students to do a video-recorded dating exercise with a female research assistant who questioned them on such topics as their ideal first date activities and what they look for in relationships. They also filled in written assessments which measured their assessments that measured qualities including psychopathy, social intelligence, and sociosexuality. After, 108 women scored each of the men on general attractiveness, sexual attractiveness, and desirability. The guys with higher psychopathy scores were rated higher by the women, as well.
The “sexual exploitation hypothesis” explains it all… sort of. “We wonder if in the landscape of individuals seeking a partner whether there are sexual and romantic ‘sneakers’ or ‘mimics’ who display not just a mask of sanity, but an appealing mask that deceptively displays attractive qualities desirable in the marketplace of relationships,” the researchers wrote.
The findings also made researchers question whether adopting psychopathic qualities is the result of a disorder or whether it’s a personality choice, in a sense. “More research needs to be done on this, but whatever the reason, our research shows that psychopathic traits certainly don’t seem ‘disordered’ like dominant clinical approaches assume. There is something in this personality style that may provide individual benefits (not that they don’t also have costs), which makes us think it is not a disorder.”
Bottom line: pay attention to who you’re attracted to, ladies. You never know, the most amazing guy could be a psychopath just beneath the surface.
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