Narcissist are not the nicest people around – they have unrealistically inflated views of themselves, an annoying sense of entitlement, and blatant disregard for others.
Yet, they seem to have a special sexual appeal that many men and women fall for, at least initially (until they reveal their true colors).
Or so they say narcissists themselves. For example, narcissists claim that:
But you can’t really trust narcissists. After all, they have an unrealistically inflated view of themselves, right?
So across a set of three different studies, a team of European researchers set out to double check these claims with third-party observers, not the narcissists themselves: Are narcissistic people really more sexually appealing than non-narcissistic people?
The researchers conducted 3 different studies to answer this question.
In Study 1, they had 120 Polish undergrads read a questionnaire assessing narcissism supposedly filled out by an unknown opposite-sex person who they then rated in terms of mate appeal, i.e., sexiness (remember, they did not see a photo, just the questionnaire). The questionnaire was filled out by the researchers to present a person who was low, medium, or high on narcissism.
Turns out, the narcissists weren’t lying: The higher the imaginary person’s narcissism, the sexier s/he was perceived by the students.
In Study 2, the researchers tested this in more naturalistic settings. They got self-assessments of narcissism from 150 young Germans and ratings of their mate appeal from a close friend of each of them.
And sure enough, the higher a person’s narcissism, the higher their mate appeal as perceived by their friends.
In both studies, the effects were similar for women and men.
In Study 3, the researchers kicked it up yet another notch: They recruited 60 young men, assessed their self-reported narcissism, and then sent them out on the street to approach 25 different women they genuinely liked and to try to get their contact info (phone, email, or Facebook profile).
And guess what? More narcissistic men got more contacts, and were rated as more appealing by the approached women after the interaction.
In Study 2 and 3 the researchers also identified at least 2 reasons why narcissists were more sexually appealing:
– Narcissists were more physically attractive – as rated by their friends (Study 2) and independent observers (Study 3). This could be because they try harder to look good. Or they became narcissistic in the first place because they were hot.
– Narcissists are socially bolder — as rated by themselves, their friends (Study 2), and independent observers (Study 3). Part of being a narcissist is about trying to gain other people’s approval, so they show more initiative in that regard.
The take home message: That really hot, charming, confident guy/gal you just met – s/he would be great to have some fun with; but you might wanna lay off the wedding plans.
Dufner, M., Rauthmann, J. F., Czarna, A. Z., & Denissen, J. J. A. (2013). Are narcissists aexy? Zeroing in on the effect of narcissism on short-term mate appeal. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. [Epub ahead of print]. doi:10.1177/0146167213483580