Why are psychopaths always attractive
Location: science.ORF.at / Message: "Why narcissists are attractive"
Three minutes: The 90 men and women (23 years old on average, heterosexual, most single) didn't have much time to get to know each other. Before they sat face to face in the ballroom of the Karl Franzens University in Graz, psychologists working with Emanuel Jauk from the University of Graz had already determined their personality profile using a questionnaire.
In addition to general traits, they were looking for the "Dark Triad" - an unflattering combination of the three traits: narcissistic, psychopathic and Machiavellian.
Attractive appearance, friendly, extroverted
Almost 700 short-term dates came about and were evaluated by the psychologists. Result: Both narcissistic men and women are more attractive than average. "Such people make themselves very attractive for the rendezvous, they are friendly and extroverted. That has a very positive effect in short contact," explains Emanuel Jauk to science.ORF.at.
The probability of seeing narcissistic men or women again or of wanting to enter into a relationship with them is five to ten percent higher than the average. In women the effect is even stronger, men find them not only narcissistic but also certain psychopathic characteristics (= impulsive, adventurous, manipulative) attractive. And primarily for short-term sexual relationships.
Women "beautiful", men "extroverted"
However, these "dark properties" are related to other things. For women, narcissism is associated with physical attractiveness - which was judged in the current study by independent jurors (two men, two women).
Is it like chicken and egg? "There is probably a correlation. Earlier studies suggest, however, that women appear more beautiful because they are narcissistic, that is, they present themselves better and attach more importance to the outside," says Jauk.
For men, narcissism is not related to beauty, but to extraversion, i.e. an energetic, outward-looking temperament. "For women, narcissism is reflected in physical attractiveness, for men through personality."
No statement for the long term
The Graz researchers have not only investigated how attractive "dark characteristics" are to others, but also what these "dark types" themselves desire. "Narcissistic men are more picky," says Jauk.
Interestingly, this does not change their actual behavior, i.e. they judge others worse, but can still imagine relationships with them. Psychopathic women, on the other hand, are comparatively more open to short-term relationships - which men find attractive.
The study by the Graz researchers says nothing about the success of the choice of partner in the long term. They do not know whether the group of 90 test persons formed real couples who are still together today. "The sample was too small to investigate this in the long term." Jauk and his team want to repeat that on a larger scale. However, it is reasonable to assume that neither psychopathic nor narcissistic characteristics contribute to the success of a partnership in the long term.
Jauk himself took part in a commercial speed dating in preparation for the study. Personal conclusion: "An exciting experience. But incredibly stressful!"
Lukas Wieselberg, science.ORF.at
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