People with more narcissistic and psychopathic traits report having a higher number of sexual partners

New research shows that narcissism and psychopathy are positively correlated with number of sexual partners, and narcissism is positively correlated with self-perceived attractiveness and mate value.

Research suggests that the Dark Triad personality traits, which consists of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy, may be useful for short-term mating strategies for men. Women tend to find Dark Triad men more physically attractive and perceive developmental stability. Mate value refers to an estimate of how valuable a person would be as a partner in a reproductive relationship.

Researchers Javier Borraz-Leon and Markus Rantala were interested in investigating whether Dark Triad personality predicts self-perceived attractiveness, mate value, and number of sexual partners for both men and women. Borraz-Leon and Rantala recruited a total of 210 healthy men and women from the University of Turku in Finland. Participants responded to questionnaire items about self-perceptions of attractiveness, mate value via the Mate Value Scale, and the short Dark Triad questionnaire.

Results from this study show that, on average, participants who scored high on Dark Triad traits reported a higher number of sexual partners. There was a positive correlation between number of sexual partners and each part of the Dark Triad – Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy; however, Machiavellianism was not significant when the researchers analyzed men and women separately. Narcissism was most correlated with self-perceived attractiveness, mate value, and number of sexual partners, and self-perceived attractiveness was positively associated with mate value.

The results of this study suggest that narcissistic men, more so than those with Machiavellianism or psychopathic qualities, have an inflated view of their physical attractiveness. Borraz-Leon and Rantala argue that this likely increases these individual’s mating success. Although the data suggest a strong correlation between narcissism and self-perceived attractiveness for men, this is also likely true for women. This study also found that women prefer men with masculine traits, which were often found in men who scored high on narcissism. This may explain the correlation between narcissistic men and their higher number of sexual partners.

The findings that narcissism predicted self-perceived attractiveness and mate value for both men and women suggest that narcissism could help men maximize their reproductive success via a short-term mating strategy. More work is needed to determine if women benefit from being narcissistic. These researchers postulate that narcissism (compared to Machiavellianism and psychopathy) had larger effects on self-perceived attractiveness, mate value, and number of sexual partners because narcissists tend to be more extraverted, assertive, and use non-violent dominance, which can help them succeed in pursuing short-term mating strategies.

Narcissistic men may also be more attractive to women because they tend to have lower facial fluctuating asymmetry, which is an indicator of developmental stability and genetic quality, which likely increase their mate value. Borraz-Leon and Rantala note the limitation of their study is that their findings may not be generalizable to other populations.

The study, “Does the Dark Triad predict self-perceived attractiveness, mate value, and number of sexual partners both in men and women?”, was published in Personality and Individual Differences.

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