Study Suggests That People Are Attracted to Badasses Because Badasses Are Super Stylish

Illustration for article titled Study Suggests That People Are Attracted to Badasses Because Badasses Are Super Stylish

Leave it to the latest scientific study to suck some of the glamour out of the mysteriously magnetic aura that surrounds self-proclaimed rebels and badasses like Ke$ha and Pee-Wee Herman: according to the deflating new study (published in Social Psychological Personality and Science) from Nicholas S. Holtzman and Michael J. Strube, part of the reason we're so attracted to dark, dangerous people might be because they tend to actually look more attractive when they try harder to look more attractive. That is all.


Researchers gave personality tests to more than 100 study participants to evaluate them for what is known in the psychology racket as the Dark Triad of personality traits — Machiavellianism, narcissism, and, lest we forget, psychopathy. They then took different photos of each participant, one in the "adorned" style (hair in some sort of up-doo, nice clothes, make-up, piercings, six-shooter face tattoos), and another in an "unadorned" style, where researchers tried hard to make sure that the participants were as neutrally presented (hair pulled back, no make-up, etc.) as possible, right down to milquetoast expressions.

As science would have it, volunteers who subsequently looked at the pictures were much more liable to rate people with Dark Triad traits as being more attractive in their adorned state. People without Dark Triad traits, however, earned no such style points and were glossed over as merely "meh" attractive. If you were under the impression that badass rebels were attractive because they didn't give a fuck and rode motorcycles, you might, according to this study's findings, be full of shit — it turns out that badasses might really be attractive because they cultivate their sense of style way more effectively than your average L.L. Bean wad of lifeless human dough. In other words, badasses are the most self-conscious, phoniest people among us, and when Pee Wee Herman says, "I'm a rebel, Dotty," what he really means is, "My grey suit and red bowtie are simply pieces of armor that I wear to deflect the critical eyes of the harsh, image-obsessed adult world."


Bad Boys And Gals Present As More Attractive [Scientific American]

Image via Gromovataya/Shutterstock.

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