Women’s ratings tended to be more favorable to men with more psychopathic traits, even after controlling for physical attractiveness ratings
A new study suggests psychopathic men have a personality style that makes them attractive to women. The study, "Psychopathy and the Induction of Desire: Formulating and Testing an Evolutionary Hypothesis," was authored by Kristopher J Brazil and Adelle E. Forth.
Men with psychopathic traits tend to create favorable impressions on women, according to this study published in Evolutionary Psychological Science. The findings indicate that their psychopathy may include features that make them appear more attractive as romantic partners, despite their lack of interest in committed relationships.
"Psychopathy as a way of describing some people, mostly men, who have a 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," said study author Kristopher Brazil, a PhD candidate at Brock University.
"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," Brazil explained.
Some 46 men from a Canadian University were recruited for the study and they were engaged in a video-recorded dating scenario with a female researcher. Each participant only spent two minutes in this experiment. The assistant started the conversation by asking the participant what he liked to do on a first date or what he thought was important in a relationship.
In the next stage, the male participants completed assessments of psychopathy, social intelligence, and sociosexuality. Afterward, the 108 young women were shown dating videos and they rated each man on general attractiveness, sexual attractiveness, and confidence. Another group of 11 participants rated the men's physical attractiveness.
The results showed that psychopathy was positively related to both men's social intelligence and favorable attitudes towards casual sex. They also found that women's ratings tended to be more favorable to men with more psychopathic traits, even after controlling for physical attractiveness ratings.
"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," Brazil stated.
Past research has also indicated that manipulative and deceitful personality traits can help psychopathic individuals achieve reproductive success in unpleasant environments, though the long-term consequences are complex. The study provides new insights into psychopathy and relationships. But future research should examine more diverse samples to confirm these findings.