Heterosexual men who exhibit psychopathic traits are more likely to be seen as attractive by heterosexual women, according to a new study published in Evolutionary Psychological Science. This was true even when controlling for physical attractiveness. The study suggests that psychopaths may have techniques which undermine the females ability to make good mate choices.
Scientists from a Canadian university did the study by recruiting 46 men who were video recorded for 2 minutes each describing what they would like to do on a first date and what they would like in a relationship. Afterward, 108 women were asked to score the men, based on their videos, rating them on attractiveness and confidence. According to PsyPost:
Afterward, the male participants completed assessments of psychopathy, social intelligence, and sociosexuality. The researchers then had 108 young women view the dating videos and rate each man on general attractiveness, sexual attractiveness, and confidence. Another group of 11 participants rated the men’s physical attractiveness.
Brazil and his colleagues found 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.
The reasons for this are not straightforward. According to one researcher:
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 consequencesKristopher Brazil
The study highlights many of the difficulties in undersstanding how certain mental illnesses may confer evolutionary benefits and may explain why those mental illnesses arose in the first place. In the case of psychopathy, the authors warn that even though it may be easier for psychopathic males to find a mate, they are much more likely to cheat on that partner and much more likely to be cheated on as well. Let’s hope more research helps explain how to help people live more normal lives.