Be A Sexy Jerk: Nice Guys Finish Last In Reproduction Too
    By Hank Campbell | May 16th 2012 04:30 AM | 16 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    Females like the bad boys when they are young, we all know that colloquially - and even more so when they are ovulating, say a group of social and evolutionary psychologists.

    It's social psychology and a professor of marketing is as qualified to look at survey results as anyone so let's go with it - actually, applied psychology, like marketing, has proven its worth far more than efforts to make it a theoretical science so marketing people likely have a great deal more credibility.  Plus, this study is actually pretty good, at least compared to other social psychology nonsense like interviewing drunk people outside bars and concluding that Republicans are created epigenetically.  They also quote legendary Dodgers baseball manager Leo "The Lip" Durocher and his "Nice guys finish last" comment about the hated cross-town rival Giants and it is worth some coverage on Science 2.0 for that reason alone.

    In one of their three studies, they showed women (female undergraduates, of course - this is social psychology and they think undergraduates are the only people on planet Earth) online dating profiles of men, one that was clearly 'sexy' and one less sexy but designed to seem 'stable'. They did this when the women doing the viewing had high and low fertility. The women were asked to rate how valuable they believed each of these archetypes would be in helping raise a child; waking up to feed the baby, chores around the house, etc. Women who were ovulating rated the 'sexy' man more likely to help with all that domestic stuff. The second study had them interacting directly with male actors, which sounds like a lot more fun.  I was at a Murder Mystery party a few weeks ago and some of these women almost convinced me I was an aged millionaire who committed the crime - maybe they were ovulating.

    When seeing real men in a video feed (same guy, an actor portraying the two archetypes) the women again thought the 'sexy' guy would be a reliable partner; if he was her partner.  Women are convinced they can change men if the men are sexy enough to be worth the bother, say evolutionary psychologists, which adds to its reputation as the most patronizing-to-women social science (which is really saying something).   Yet a quick examination of the information for the actors tells you other things are in play besides pesky faux evolutionary drivers.  Here is how the 'reliable' male was portrayed:
    To portray the reliable dad, the actors were told to dress casual but not overly fashionable. They were instructed to look away from the camera and not maintain direct eye contact for long periods of time. They were also told to fidget and portray the man as somewhat awkward and not overly confident.
    Ummmm, no one wants to hang out with that guy, male or female.  He's a wimpy, annoying prat, and these were 20-year-old women. And what did they determine these women have in common that made them choose the 'cad' over the 'dad'?  Apparently early puberty, along with the recurring hormonal changes.
    You'll need to click them to see the description but you get the idea - the sexy guy would be an awesome parent if he was with the woman doing the survey. But not if he were with a different woman.  Credit: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

    "Under the hormonal influence of ovulation, women delude themselves into thinking that the sexy bad boys will become devoted partners and better dads," said Kristina Durante, assistant professor of marketing at The University of Texas at San Antonio. "When looking at the sexy cad through ovulation goggles, Mr. Wrong looked exactly like Mr. Right."

    Or it may be that when women are ovulating, they have less patience with wimpy people of any gender.

    Sexy! (if you are ovulating)  Credit: Shutterstock.

    They invoke ultimate and proximate explanations for the behavior instead; we have a fear response, for example, because it kept people alive, so that is an ultimate explanation for why we run when we see a lion walking toward us.  But they then focus on proximate explanations, completely establishing as a biological imperative that a woman will like a sexy guy who will cheat on her with her sister and they are just trying to figure out how that is manifested. 

    Not buying it?  You'll never be part of the reality-based social science contingent with that attitude.  Better to not be labeled anti-science, so go ahead and be a sexy jerk and claim it is your evolutionary mandate.

    Citation: Durante, Kristina M.; Griskevicius, Vladas; Simpson, Jeffry A.; Cantú, Stephanie M.; Li, Norman P., 'Ovulation Leads Women to Perceive Sexy Cads as Good Dads', Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, May 14 , 2012, doi: 10.1037/a0028498


    Ah jerk vs nice guy, the old standby of so many online dating message boards.  
    My own personal take on this is that the "cad" in their study acted in a way that would indicate higher social status to a 20 something year old female.  Wearing nice clothes, making eye contact, showing confidence etc.  While the other guy acted and dressed like a looser.

    When I think of women who go for jerks I think of people who just like drama drama drama and look for someone who will give them that.  Some folks just can't be in a RLship without BS.  The idea of a man/woman  who will be there and not screw around cheat or beat on them just does not appeal to some people.  

    You know we used to make TV shows celbrating things like that

    {Insert video of Audrey Meadows and Jackie Gealson singing a Duet of a song called "one of these days POW!"... Thanks for taking all of the online videos down Jackie Gleason LLC.  I'm sure that will add to your revenue stream.}

    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    Well that explains why I'm with my husband. haha... Kind of sad that I'm not joking.

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    I was at a Murder Mystery party a few weeks ago and some of these women almost convinced me I was an aged millionaire who committed the crime - maybe they were ovulating. 
    Hank, does this mean that these women thought that you were an old 'sexy jerk'? You don't look very old to me!

    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at
    No, it means they were great actors. I was just speculating that perhaps ovulation made them so.
    Reading this article makes me feel that Evolution itself does somewhat deserve the epithet coined by some Creation-Scientists for the Theory of, namely ‘Evil-ution’.  Indeed, such an awful world is it, that one can sympathize with those thinking and feeling people who turn to Buddhism, even though I myself do not agree as to it being the Way.

    Perhaps a more exact statement would be that Buddha was a man who made a metaphysical discipline; which might even be called a psychological discipline. He proposed a way of escaping from all this recurrent sorrow; and that was simply by getting rid of the delusion that is called desire. It was emphatically not that we should get what we want better by restraining our impatience for part of it, or that we should get it in a better way or in a better world. It was emphatically that we should leave off wanting it. If once a man realised that there is really no reality, that everything, including his soul, is in dissolution at every instant, he would anticipate disappointment and be intangible to change, existing (in so far as he could be said to exist) in a sort of ecstasy of indifference. The Buddhists call this beatitude and we will not stop our story to argue the point; certainly to us it is indistinguishable from despair. I do not see, for instance, why the disappointment of desire should not apply as much to the most benevolent desires as to the most selfish ones. Indeed the Lord of Compassion seems to pity people for living rather than for dying.

    (“The Demons and the Philosophers”, by G.K.Chesterton)
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Gerhard Adam
    What I always find interesting is how such studies can somehow manage to conflate the most irrelevant pieces of information together, invoke genetics, and then claim an evolutionary basis.

    In the first place, whatever evolutionary history we have is not likely to have been heavily influenced by "the sexy cad" and the "reliable guy".  Tribal societies simply don't operate that way, and to suggest it as having some sort of evolutionary past simply misses the point.  This is especially relevant in an era of birth-control when we suddenly want to weigh in with paternity perceptions.  This is an area so fraught with difficulties unless one observes strict cultural controls, it is simply gibberish to consider it relevant.  Consider a primitive tribal society where the rearing of offspring may involve extended family or even an entire village?  Contrast that with cultures where the woman may be killed or abandoned if she cheats?  Contrast this further with our modern society where there is a legal standard that men are financially responsible for their offspring.  What can be realistically said about women's attitudes towards paternity in these different situations?  I'm quite confident that it extends a bit beyond simply sharing household chores and shopping as perceived by college students.

    Like it or not, our culture couldn't be more different than our evolutionary past, so there is virtually nothing we can get from our current behaviors that bears any semblance to it.  We wouldn't even get consistent behaviors across modern cultures, let alone across history.

    At it's absolutely best, ovulation might offer an explanation for why someone may be more receptive to preconceived notions of attractiveness.   However, this explains nothing without a significantly more rigorous explanation for what attractiveness is.  In addition, ovulation doesn't last nearly long enough to influence something that could be called a "relationship".

    As for the reference to genetics, the study itself refutes that as a legitimate claim.  Since the same men portrayed both types of men, then clearly the women were incapable of assessing genetic fitness as part of their mating criteria.  Therefore, their motivation was governed by something completely different [including the fact that their hormones weren't any more receptive to assessing genetic quality].

    Personally, I suspect that a prime factor was actually something much more subtle and that related to the perception of male status.  It's really as simple as, the higher the male's perceived status [to the woman] the higher her own status and that of her offspring would become.

    Skeptical?  Run the same experiment and have the champion skier be unemployed and the accountant worth $500 million dollars.  I'll bet you wouldn't even need to show a picture.

    Mundus vult decipi
    What I always find interesting is how such studies can somehow manage to conflate the most irrelevant pieces of information together, invoke genetics, and then claim an evolutionary basis.
    Yep, it only takes two curves going in the same direction. Want an Arab Spring caused by the price of steel?  I can do that.  An evolutionary psychology basis for the necktie?  Absolutely.  And a genetic basis for voting choice is so scientifically rigorous I can make the exact same method work for the kinds of movies people watch.

    But it passes as science.  That said, and as I note in the article, compared to most studies of this kind this one was pretty good.  At least for one of the tests they used more than undergraduate females doing it for 30 bucks or extra credit.
    Run the same experiment and have the champion skier be unemployed and the accountant worth $500 million dollars.
    It was probably completely staged, but one of our TV programmes showed Robert Winston dressed as a millionaire and then dressed as a down-and-out, together with the reaction of women sitting at a table nearby and observing him.  Result – what you would guess.

    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    This is the worst advertising I have ever seen on a website -- look at your bounce rate (it must be sky high)-- with those pop ups.

    Worst you have ever seen?  Exaggerate much?

    You must not visit a lot of science sites - or any sites.  Other sites have page takeovers, layer popups and all we have is a basic AIB banner.  Servers cost money - a lot for 1.5 million people a month - so ads are a reality because people have been trained to get content for free.  You can always use an adblock - otherwise, thanks for your constructive comment.
    Sorry guys

    Youve all gotten it wrong. A nice guy may be lacking in self esteem, an asshole doesnt have bushels of it either. What he does his hide his insecurity behind a veneer of pseudo self-esteem.

    The essence is that girls dig antisocial characters of all hues and shades. It is the prison inmates that get the maximum offer of marriages. They need a guy who has a scar on his face and a hand that has ripped flesh. It is this primitive mindset of women that men fail to understand.

    Rationalising the above with evolutionary theories and paleontologic ideologies wont work. If so will the modern human run on fours to catch his prey.

    This is a fact that women themselves dont understand one bit as to why they dig criminals. They rationalise their reasons with assertive, confident and a host of other epithets. That being the case a CEO of an organisation scores less pussies than does a local thug.

    They are not in to guys with an authentic self esteem who can run families, organisations, or build societies. These genuinely sophisticated true alpha males are out of their league. It is the pseudo-alphas of DJs and tattooed thugs that these girls dig. Forget the explanation that it is the low class chicks that dig these antisocial losers, even a female CEO lecturing on the whiteboard about law of returns is bound to orgasm with at the thought of dating the local murderer or bank robber.

    When the social rules were tight girls went in for that nice guy doctor or accountant, today when the rules are lax they expose their true characters.

    In SE Asia and in India what i have observed is that girls dont give a damn about the decent dressed, educated sophisticated corporate guy, these are out of their league and are unlikely to give her the narcissistic nourishment. Here you have a special category of jerks. They appear antisocial but are infact betas at heart. You will be left wondering as to where you went wrong that every girl from a level 1 to a level 8 goes for these antisocial nerds.

    I'm sorry, but in all honesty, I don't "dig" criminals. Physically they may have something going on, but outside (or would that be 'inside') of that, not much else is attractive. Do you have a percentage of how many women go for criminals vs not go for criminals? I would imagine it's very small, personally (no offense, guys... ;-) )

    And here I always thought we women were inclined to pick a man based on more primitive abilities such as provider and protector. How outdated am I ??!!

    No, no, that is made-up evolutionary psychology.  This article is about made-up social psychology stuff.
    :-) I know...and my statement was tongue-in-cheek :-)

    In the past it was the provider and protector ability, translated in prehistoric terms it is the ability of the male animal to rip flesh.

    Statistically chicks digging criminals is least. But asshole affinity is to the maximal for everyone of them. The reason that statistics are minimal is that girls dont do it brazenly like marrying a criminal for fear of shaming and for the reasons of abutting a criminal. But if the law were more lenient and social pressures relaxing by the day, they dont necessarily dig an actual criminal but a potential antisocial to say the least.