The benefits of the bad: they “hit it” (males at least)

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Bad guys really do get the most girls:

But being just slightly evil could have an upside: a prolific sex life, says Peter Jonason at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. “We have some evidence that the three traits are really the same thing and may represent a successful evolutionary strategy.”

This observation seems to hold across cultures. David Schmitt of Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, presented preliminary results at the same meeting from a survey of more than 35,000 people in 57 countries. He found a similar link between the dark triad and reproductive success in men. “It is universal across cultures for high dark triad scorers to be more active in short-term mating,” Schmitt says. “They are more likely to try and poach other people’s partners for a brief affair.”

“They still have to explain why it hasn’t spread to everyone,” says Matthew Keller of the University of Colorado in Boulder. “There must be some cost of the traits.” One possibility, both Keller and Jonason suggest, is that the strategy is most successful when dark triad personalities are rare. Otherwise, others would become more wary and guarded.

Frequency dependence. Control for environment and one might assume that personality morphs will hit an equilibrium in terms of relative proportion; but of course one assumes that any normal environment will be subject to exogenous shocks which jar the equilibrium on a regular basis. I wish popular science articles would bring up Hawk vs. Dove dynamics more often to introduce the general concept of variant strategies in populations. The relevance of this sort of result to recent posts should be pretty obvious, and is also one reason many people were always less than enthusiastic about Evolutionary Psychology‘s monomaniacal focus on human universals.

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45 Comments

  1. I like the Ominously sounding, and loosely defined “dark triad” traits.

  2. A note to males: learning game can let you easily outdo badboys.  
     
    From what I’ve read and seen bad boy naturals success with women plateau’s after a certain point, mainly because they don’t know what they’re doing, so they cannot refine or improve upon it, it’s just ‘natural’ after all. Many things they’re doing might even be counter-productive, but their natural confidence and ballsyness makes up for it, and certainly lets them beat the average guy at the margin. Bad boy James Bond regularly buys girls drinks, for example. Onlookers have concluded ‘buying a girl a drink makes her like me’. But this is not the case, as for most men it telegraphs interest and neediness too quickly, and automatically raises her value relative to yours. Bond is succeeding IN SPITE of this act. So it might be with a good many badboy activities. Just remember – anyone confidently outside the mainstream will do better with women.

  3. Well, these bad asses might got girls but they are also more likely killed or incarcerated than nice guys. That is limiting factor in modern society. 
     
    In hunter-gather world, they might get killed earlier and their offsprings were killed like lion pride.  
     
    That explains why it has not spread to every body. 
     
    Just looking at today’s gheto and you will know.

  4. Another important point – Woody Allen said eighty percent of success is showing up, and this is true for guys scoring women. Badboys might be techniqueless and poor as shit, but the fact that their confidence pushes them into more interactions with women than average allows them more success than average. Most guys who see a girl they like don’t bother to approach, in fact approaching a girl in the daytime is beyond the reality of most guys. This is important because of an astonishing university study – 56% of women agreed to a date when randomly approached by a stranger saying ‘would you go out with me tonight’!!!!! Badboys might be dicks who don’t care what people think, but that same fact makes them approach that cutie and get what they want.

  5. Being one of the few girls on this thread, let me make another postulation. One which may make us women seem less irrational in who we are attracted to: 
     
    Men with innate talent, good looks and a way with people tend to have been popular with girls (and probably everyone) their entire lives. They then develop dark triad personalities due to the fact that they are spoiled brats who have learned that their innate superiority can be used to manipulate.  
     
    It doesnt make evolutionary sense for women to be almost uniformly attracted to bad boys given that they will be unlikely to stick around, so they must make up for this by providing better genes. So again it points to the fact that men with better genes tend to be bad boys…cos they can. Demand and supply is in their favor. 
     
    I think you guys on this thread should honestly think about what you would do if every woman wanted you. Can you HONESTLY say that you would remain a monogamous paragon of virtue and eschew promiscuity?

  6. I think you guys on this thread should honestly think about what you would do if every woman wanted you. Can you HONESTLY say that you would remain a monogamous paragon of virtue and eschew promiscuity? 
     
    Yes.

  7. To put things in perspective, most men really don’t want (or at least seek out) tons of sex partners. Though not all promiscuous men are criminals, a reliable mark of criminality is high mating effort: seeking out a high number of low commitment sexual encounters, and this cad mating strategy often signifies lower status and opportunity. Rapists and unemployed men also have higher numbers of sexual partners. 
     
    Additional support comes from a study by Rowe, Rodgers, Musek-Bushey, and St. John (1989), who found that among adolescents, 36 to 49 percent of the variance in level of sexual intimacy engaged in by one sibling was predicted by the amount of delinquency engaged in by the other. Similarly, Rowe and Flannery (1994) found that high scores on measures of sexuality and delinquency loaded positively on measures of impulsivity, deceitfulness, and rebelliousness and negatively on parental affection and encouragement of achievement. Rowe, Vazsonyi, and Figueredo (1997) found that differences in delinquency correlated with mating effort (e.g., number of sexual partners) both within individuals and across siblings.  
     
    Criminality or sociopathy (David Rowe’s “General deviance factor”) is definitely a quantitative trait, related to male mating. Populations that are more polygnous, get more of the competitive male hormones at the ages when males compete (the same ages when male criminality peaks), and are more criminal. 
     
    Psychopathy, on the other hand, is less obvious and seemingly makes opposite predictions depending on how you look at it. If psychopathy is simply the sum of most sociopathy genes, you would expect polygynous populations with more criminality to have the highest number of psychopaths
     
    OTOH, if psychopathy is a frequency dependent morph that allows a minority of ruthless sneaky fuckers to thrive in the anonymous conditions of large-scale law-ordered societies, you would expect to find psychopaths uniquely among populations with greater state antiquity. 
     
    But psychopathy apparently doesn’t differ too much between whites and blacks.

  8. How much of this short-term mating involves prostitutes, as opposed to girlfriends? My guess is that the typical bad boy would be much less embarassed to solicit a hooker. So that might be part of the answer. 
     
    Eniola, what is it exactly that every woman wants? Perhaps u could help enlighten us poor shmucks :)

  9. The citation info for the study Sebastian Flyte cited is: RD Clark, “Gender differences in receptivity to sexual offers,” Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, Vol 2, Iss 2, p.35-55. 
     
    The raw data can be had here. 2 studies, N=9 in each. Tiny studies from a population that isn’t likely to be generalizable so be careful extrapolating.

  10. I’ll “be careful extrapolating” Levi, because I will still be shaking with laughter at the very notion of wasting time on “2 studies, N=9 in each”.

  11. They then develop dark triad personalities due to the fact that they are spoiled brats who have learned that their innate superiority can be used to manipulate.  
     
    You’re right that it is less likely a matter of females being attracted to unwholesome guys in this case (such a preference could pay off if you need protection, though), and more likely a matter of the females being unable to detect that the guy is unwholesome. 
     
    However, the authors didn’t mention good looks or high IQ, so we don’t know that the dark triad traits result from a justifiable sense of superiority. 
     
    They just have to have a charming demeanor, which sociopaths always do, and a disarming appearance — which babyfaced males do. I’ve got a post in the works on the male babyface as a dishonest signal, but in brief, babyfaced males are more likely to have badboy personalities (being more dominant) and behavior (more likely to commit crime, and more frequently, if they’re lower in IQ; or trying to clobber everyone academically, if they’re higher in IQ).

  12. Well, these bad asses might got girls but they are also more likely killed or incarcerated than nice guys.  
     
    Only if they’re violent. Low-IQ sociopaths may commit crime, but average or high-IQ sociopaths will become trial lawyers or investment bankers.

  13. @agnostic 
     
    Valid point. It worth to have controlled IQ for research. 
     
    If IQ is not controlled, it is more likely that Rushton correlation will show up. Those dark triad is negatively correlated with IQ in Rushton’s correlation.

  14. Eniola, 
     
    I think you guys on this thread should honestly think about what you would do if every woman wanted you. Can you HONESTLY say that you would remain a monogamous paragon of virtue and eschew promiscuity? 
     
    I guess it depends on what you mean by promiscuity – as someone here mentioned something to the effect the other day that serial monogamy was promiscuous… 
     
    While I’ve never been in the situation where every woman wanted me, I have dated many women in a short period of time, over the course of a few years. I’m generally more attracted to very intelligent women, particularly if they have a kinky side. I’ve dated many such women, one with IQ 170, a niece of Isaac Asimov, another a VP at a major investment bank, who was not only smart, but very kinky. All very accomplished women, all very interesting, all very ambitious. 
     
    But in the end I married someone who values family and children just as much as career, and sought a balance of both. So to answer your question, yes. 
     
    My brother on the other hand is somewhat of a sociopath, and has had many encounters with many women on many continents, usually he tells them straight up that he is not interested in family or children, and usually they go along with this, only to try and convince him later to have kids.

  15. I recently have run into a few ex-bad-boys in the 55-60 age demographic, and by that age either you’re normalized, super-rich (Jack Nicholson), or a pitiful grumbling loser. Bad boy success in its pure form requires being young, attractive, and (preferably, not always) athletic.  
     
    There’s nothing more pitiful and disgusting than an aging bad boy who hasn’t established itself in the world, and who spends his life going around wondering where the party is.

  16. According to the GSS, the correlation between socioeconomic status and number of female sex partners for men is -.02. The same correlation for years of education is -.03. 
     
    Men with higher status are much more desirable yet have the same or less partners because they put less into mating effort and are more achievement oriented.  
     
    Consider the sex lives of the super-rich. Does Bill Gates spend his money and time building up a harem of nubile princesses or earning more money? (here’s his tastefully compatible wife, Melinda) Mark Zuckerberg, the 23 year old billionaire founder of Facebook gets relationship demands from his monogamous Asian girlfriend. 
     
    Mulitmillionare men are no more likely to take extramarital sex partners than average men, but multimillionaire women are twice as promiscuous
    Among the respondents, nearly three-quarters of the women surveyed (about 150) said they?d had affairs, compared to about 50% of the men. While the male numbers are in keeping with findings for the broader American population, the figure for women is almost twice as high as the national average, according to sex researchers. 
    Multimillionaire women are more T-fueled (and more polygamous like men), but most multimillionaire men (outside of most winner-take-all athletes and entertainers) are dutiful, intelligent, lower T monogamists.

  17. If only multimillionaire women were hot…

  18. If only multimillionaire women were hot… 
     
    …well, lots of cosmetic. i know we talk about genetic and biological changes a lot…but isn’t cosmetic getting better and better? seems like we hear more about the “addicts,” but mostly it’s a normal procedure done for normal people.

  19. If you’re not good-looking and young, you have to be able to go dutch at least. The guys I mentioned couldn’t. But when they were young, they didn’t have to. 
     
    A lot of rich guys are so sublimated and focussed that they don’t really want it much, or know how to get it. There’s a wealth threshold above which good things come your way if you really want them to. 
     
    Even Frank Sinatra often had to pay for it, though.

  20. John Emerson: Even Frank Sinatra often had to pay for it, though. 
     
    Did he pay because he didn’t have other options or did he pay because he wanted them to go away?

  21. The latter, I’m sure.

  22. This is one of those studies that only proves what everyone with any sense knew to be true anyway.

  23. “I recently have run into a few ex-bad-boys in the 55-60 age demographic, and by that age either you’re normalized, super-rich (Jack Nicholson), or a pitiful grumbling loser. Bad boy success in its pure form requires being young, attractive, and (preferably, not always) athletic. “ 
     
    I’ve met a few Jack Nicholsons, but virtually all bad boys seem to end up in the pitiful grumbling loser category. Most flame out a lot earlier in life from my experience. A lot of bad boys hit their peak in high school or college when their atheletic ability and swagger count for something, but fall off really quickly after that. As popular as they were early in school, most bad boys find themselves aging and alone soon after. Not a good way to end up….

  24. Another finding from the GSS: promiscuous men are less happy. Men with over 20 partners are as happy as lifelong virgins, and men with over 100 are even less happy. Men with one lifetime sex partner were the happiest. In fact promiscuous women were happier than promiscuous men (and monogamous men were happier than monogamous women). Male happiness kept declining with more sex partners (e.g. men with 100 partners are less happy than men with 80), but female happiness stops declining after 4 partners. Men with 100+ partners are less happy than females with 100+ partners.

  25. Jason, 
     
    Forgive me but I didn’t read the article (too busy). Do the authors examine which way the correlation goes? Is it “unhappy men are more promiscuous” or “promiscuity leads to unhappieness”?

  26. It wasn’t an article, it was my examination of survey data. And the GSS isn’t longitudinal so it can’t answer that question. 
     
    What I can do is point you to this paper which reviews plenty of longitudinal papers on the effects of marriage. Marriage does have a big effect on happiness and health for males and females.

  27. I hope one day biologically and psychologically we can transcend our petty bad-boy-loving instincts and gold-digger tendencies (for girls) and sex-craziness (for guys) and transhumanism allows us to destroy the facets of evolutionary psychology and gender inequality we hate!

  28. I hope one day biologically and psychologically we can transcend our petty bad-boy-loving instincts 
     
    Remember, though: it’s more likely that the bad boys are charming and disarming — evading detection — rather than girls liking their bad traits per se. 
     
    To fix this, we’d have to engineer females so that their trust of males’ motives were incredibly low. This would allow them to detect and screen out bad boys, but it would also put non-bad-boy males (the vast majority) through the ringer, even to speak to her. I doubt that’s something the non-bad-boys would enjoy. You can ask guys who go to clubs or bars in DC what that’s like (or read the Roissy-sphere for the digest). 
     
    Type I vs. type II error.

  29. I hope one day biologically and psychologically we can transcend our petty bad-boy-loving instincts and gold-digger tendencies (for girls) and sex-craziness (for guys) and transhumanism allows us to destroy the facets of evolutionary psychology and gender inequality we hate! 
     
    But how likely is it that free market eugenics will result in asexual males instead of more tragically charismatic bad boys? Just as free market selection has resulted in a tragedy of the commons problem in China and India, it’s questionable if genetic engineering choices will make society better or just saddle us all with generations of bare branches and deaf lesbians
     
    I don’t think I’ve come across any evo-psych saying women have ‘gold-digger’ tendencies, per se. One way dinners and diamond rings, etc, are used is to test for unfakeable signals of commitment and weed out the bad boys. 
     
    A bad boy who could or would “fake” a traditional courtship wouldn’t be a bad boy by definition.

  30. But how likely is it that free market eugenics will result in asexual males? 
     
    Well, once genetic modification becomes commonplace, the variance of human behaviours would increase… you would have folks choosing to use “get rid” of inequality derived from our biology. For example, instead of a feminist complaining about women lagging behind in academia, she could engineer her daughters with the male brain, and drive, and the personality to match it. If a guy believed “making himself less shallow” really wanted to care about a girl’s personality rather than her looks, he could tweak his brain to be purposely that way. 
    It will open up way more choice. 
     
    Ironically, the leftist academic denial of evo psych won’t help society reaching equality, but finding the biological bases of the inequality will. Biotech will be able to change it.  
     
    Sure I bet the general public wouldn’t be eager to get rid of traditionalist norms so fast but the variance of lifestyles would increase dramatically. 
     
    ie. Look at how much variance in lifestyle there is now compared to 200 years ago, 1000 years ago. From luddite hippies to nerdy Asperger’s syndrome hackers, I’ve sure the variance in lifestyles will increase way more, as people have more control not just over memes but genes.

  31. 1.) What the hell? I thought agreeability was an attractive trait… In fact, I even remember Jason Malloy citing a study which purported to show that.

  32. There’s a continuum. A lot of guys have small to moderate amounts of badboyness. Some nice guys even learn to fake it.  
     
    Some of this is connected to the fact that girls like to have fun too, and excessively serious, excessively careful guys are no fun. Fun is amoral, but it’s a big part of courtship.

  33. WRT promiscuous women being happier, I wonder if they are happier _because_ they are more promiscuous or because of some underlying factor that makes them both happier and more prone to promiscuity. For example, would higher teststerone levels make them less prone to depression?

  34. I think I misunderstood Jason Malloy’s analysis.

  35. You did — promiscuous women aren’t happier than non-promiscuous women — but your comment is still valid. See my comment on multimillionaire females above.

  36. here it is: 
     
    JM on Marginal Revolution linked to a study which showed the opposite of this one as far as agreeability: 
     
    “Research from social psychology and evolutionary psychology show women are attracted by the personality trait dominance (leadership), and both men and women are attracted by the personality trait agreeableness. (the opposite of jerkyness)” 
     
    So which one is it??!

  37. Ben, 
     
    A lot of this is discussed above and in the same thread you reference. The problem is interpreting simply “more sexual partners” to mean women prefer men that treat them poorly, that traits that achieve some goal must be preferred because they can be identified as such, or that men with more sex partners are “more desirable” (i.e. “Too perfect” Mitt Romney must have less mate value than thrice-divorced Giuliani). As I showed above the opposite is more true. Number of sexual partners can mean a lot of things, among them is inability to maintain a functional relationship. More desirable men are more monogamous both through preference and ability (i.e. more desirable men can hold a partner’s affections, while less desirable men keep getting dumped and moving on) The ‘dark’ personality traits discussed in particular involve the willingness to deceive and use others, which is associated with criminality and cad orientation. Just because women can be used and deceived doesn’t mean they prefer it. 
     
    RE: the MR thread. Agreeableness is highly attractive both in the abstract in survey data, and in rating real men and women. Jensen-Campbell et al found
     
    “In summary, the substantive message here is that perception of agreeableness in a partner is a major contributor to interpersonal attraction, for both men and women. Agreeableness is a large star, around which rotates the much smaller, dark moon of dominance.”

  38. Ok, so basically the agreeable guys tend to have fewer women who are very much into them, as opposed to the disagreeable guys who have a huge number of flings with women that are only “sparked” by them? Interesting. My guess would be that extroversion trumps all of this, though.

  39. A lot of this discussion seems to revolve around the notion that there is really only one strategy that is worthwhile (fuck as many women as you can) and that only men have strategies in this game. 
     
    However, it seems obvious to me that females must have strategies, and that their problems are somewhat more difficult. This is because from the male point of view, most women are acceptable, although, of course, some are clearly more acceptable than others. However, from a woman’s point of view, some 10% are the prizes, another 20% are good, maybe another 20% are acceptable, and the rest are dogs (there is good evidence that as many as 50% of males do not contribute to the next generation).  
     
    Strategies must abound and there is bound to be several that coexist. What I haven’t figured out is if they are genetically fixed or are determined when the players see the lay of the land.

  40. Richard: 
     
    Between genetically fixed or determined by the lay of the land (and I assumed you meant no double entendre by the latter), my surmise would be that it’s a “continuum” sort of phenomenon.

  41. Jason: 
     
    You omitted an even further-strengthening link in your presentation: that the more desirable partners (able to hold partners on the basis of their own desirability as partners will, already, in very many cases (and as a result of their desirability) become partnered with those who are not only highly desirable in a generalized sense but also on their personally-specific value-scale of desirability. A true “virtuous circle” in any society based on (or at least highly valuing) individual fulfillment.

  42. Gene: 
     
    Between genetically fixed or determined by the lay of the land (and I assumed you meant no double entendre by the latter), my surmise would be that it’s a “continuum” sort of phenomenon. 
     
    No double entendre intended … later it struck me that if the choosier sex was weighing characteristics that included non-personal ones (like the amount of resources the other party had) and these characteristics differed across different societies, we would expect to see different preferences in different societies. 
     
    And if they were using status as a proxy for resources then we might see what looks like strategy switching, especially as females mature and they find out which male strategies are designed to fool them.

  43. No, Richard, you’re all wrong. 
     
    Why, if things were the way you suggest, the world wopuld be full of phony dukes, counts, earls and the like as well as bogus professors and countefeit doctors. No end of confusion.

  44. Weird. I just posted on this. 
     
    You can see it here. 
     
    Basically, women want high-testosterone, socially dominant men who are bigger and stronger than the competition, if there are no penalties for that strategy. If there are penalties, they will shift to the “Beta Male” who ought to be called the tool-maker. Focused on abstract tasks, fascinated by how things work, and can be improved, system-oriented, often “smart” in manipulating or understand tools. Tool-makers are the evolutionary “edge” of humanity. Other species makes a few odd tools, humanity makes and continually improves tools. To extract the maximum amount of resources from an area and beat the competition (other human groups). The society with the most and best tool-makers generally wins also. 
     
    Now, with the Welfare State, the pill and condom, random, anonymous urban living (see Roissy’s blog for more on that) there is no downside to choosing bad boy after bad boy. Britain’s illegitimacy rate is 50%, most of Northern Europe including the Scandinavian nations, the Netherlands, France, and Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland either exceed that figure or approach it. The Black illegitimacy rate is 70% nationwide, and 90% for the urban core. In 1965 the rate was about 24% or so. The white rate in 1965 was about 4%, compared to about 34% nationwide now. So big, massive social changes in how women choose men have taken place in 40 years or so. Women are choosing not to get married in the first place, and chase after bad boys. Dark Triad indeed. 
     
    Another tragedy of the commons. Gobs of fatherless boys running around, seeking to be the baddest bad boy in the neighborhood because that is what gets rewarded. Women seem to avoid men who are “smart” because it seems to correlate with lower testosterone levels.  
     
    Up until now, women who did not choose the nerdy tool-maker tradesman, or merchant, or what have you had the choice of prostitute, disposable mistress of a rich aristocrat, or wife of impoverished soldier. No wonder nerdy guys are all over the place in the West, and pretty absent in a lot of other places (like say, Mongolia or Saudi Arabia). Until recently, the Beta male had no problems reproducing. 
     
    For people who think talent, ability, and interest in tool-making does not just appear like “magic” in people out of the Ether, but is inherited, what’s at stake is nothing less than the West’s comparative advantage and entire social basis.

  45. Let me add, there could well be some social disruptions as the Betas try and rejigger things their way. There’s more of them than the Alphas. They are good at tool-making. A whole lot of unattached men, without much hope of a wife (generally a woman no older than thirty, with fertility and some youthful beauty, and without a lot of sexual history / relationship baggage) has never been a healthy development. 
     
    China’s periodic rash of riots, revolts, and rebellions, like the Taipeng Rebellion, that killed 20 million with … muzzle loading muskets, is a sign of what can happen. Or it’s wobbly uncertainty and periodic riots (suppressed in the media) today. At some point, the out-group of Betas realizes “hey if we storm the castle, WE can have all the women.” Much social disruption ensues. That dynamic is probably the real driving force behind many insurgencies, like FARC, etc.

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