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Tag: narcissism

The Science of the Appeal Behind Dark Personalities

A recent study suggests that many people have a mysterious attraction to dark personalities. Specifically, people with traits like Machiavellian, narcissism, and psychopathy. These three traits are called the “Dark Triad” and people with these traits were found to be more attractive than those who were seen to have less of these characteristics. On this surface, it seems bogus. Who in their right mind finds a psychopath to be sexy? However, a quick examination of society proves otherwise. Dark brooding characters seem to be all the rage right now, it’s why movies like the Twilight series sell out (teenage girls swoon over Edward’s moodiness) and why TV shows with characters forced to make morally ambiguous decisions like The Walking Dead are hits.  In the experiment,

Each student was photographed soon after they arrived.  Then, after taking this initial photograph, each student asked to change out of their own clothes and put on a pair of gray sweatpants and a t-shirt…The students were then photographed in this more natural state. Holtzman and Strube showed both sets of photographs to a group of strangers who rated them in terms of physical attractiveness. By comparing the attractiveness ratings of the dressed-down and dressed-up students, the researchers were able to determine how much each student was able to make themselves more appealing through flashy clothes, makeup, accessories, etc.

The students in the study were then tested for the Dark Triad, and the results were confirmed with the friends and family of the students. While there was a definite correlation between attractiveness in the photos of the dressed up students and a high Dark Triad score,

the dark triad score was not related to ratings of physical attractiveness in the dressed-down photos. In other words, people with dark personality traits are not seen as more physically attractive than others when you take away their freedom to wear their own clothes and makeup.

This suggests that people with darker personalities are simply better at making themselves look nice. Do I believe this? To a large extent, yes. The more narcissistic you are, the more you’re going to care about your appearance.
The amygdala is the portion of the brain believed to be responsible for these kinds of personality traits.

The article does add one important point: choose your friends carefully. Social interactions  and the way we perceive others, is a complex mechanism. The amygdala is a small part of the brain that is responsible for much of our social interactions and ability to connect to others. This part of the brain plays a big role in deciding who seems like a potentially good friend and who you may want to avoid. Initially  humans being tend to associate physical attractiveness with goodness and trustworthiness,

a phenomenon known as “the halo effect.” When we perceive someone as physically attractive, we automatically assume they are also kinder, smarter, and more confident. Therefore, creating a physically attractive veneer is a highly effective way of creating an advantageous first impression.


As the saying goes: don’t judge a book by its cover.





Just for fun, I took a Dark Triad quiz.  Click on he link to take it yourself. Judging from my score, I should be able to make myself look like Miss Universe. I can’t, in case you were wondering. As with any kind of generalizations such as these, they are never 100%. Leave a comment with your result. Do you agree with it?

Put Down, the Camera, Stop Taking Selfies: The Pitfalls of Being a Narcissistic Male

Photo Credit: Baking_in_pearls at

Do you like to look good? Do you like to look so good that you like to look at yourself in the mirror, like a lot? Well you might be a narcissist. According to a recent study done at University of Michigan, all that time you spend dolling yourself up and obsessing over your appearance can put you at higher risk for cardiovascular problems and high blood pressure, well that is if you are a male. This study “examined the role of participant narcissism and sex on basal cortisol concentrations.”

The Experiment:

Using saliva samples, researchers measured baseline cortisol hormone levels in student participants. Cortisolsignals the level of activation of the body’s key stress response system, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Participants were asked not to do any activities that would trigger the body’s stress response before testing the hormone levels. Elevated levels of cortisol in a stress-free situation would indicate chronic HPA activation, which has significant health implications such as increased risk of cardiovascular problems and high blood pressure. Next, the students filled out a questionnaire, which tested the five components of the narcissism personality trait. According to researchers, “two of these components are more maladaptive, or unhealthy — exploitativeness and entitlement; and the other three are more adaptive, or healthy — leadership/authority, superiority/arrogance, and self-absorption/self-admiration.”

The Results and Findings:

Researcher, Reinhard  says “narcissists have grandiose self-perceptions, they also have fragile views of themselves, and often resort to defensive strategies like aggression when their sense of superiority is threatened. These kinds of coping strategies are linked with increased cardiovascular reactivity to stress and higher blood pressure, so it makes sense that higher levels of maladaptive narcissism would contribute to highly reactive stress response systems and chronically elevated levels of stress.” However, it what was curious about the scientists’ findings was that higher levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, correlated to males that tested positive for negative aspects of narcissism (such as exploitativeness and entitlement), but the link did not exist in females with negative aspects of narcissism. Even more interesting, neither males nor females with the three positive narcissism traits (leadership/authority, superiority/arrogance, and self-absorption/self-admiration) showed no correlation whatsoever to cortisol levels. These results are particularly interesting because it suggests that narcissism influences how people respond to stressful events as well as their everyday routines. For example, the HPA axis may be chronically activated in males with unhealthy narcissism even if there is no actual stressor. This constant stimulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, or stress response system, could lead to health risks in the cardiovascular system.


For More: (“Expensive Egos: Narcissism Has a Higher Health Cost for Men”) (The Study) (“Narcissistic Heterosexual Men Target Their Hostility Primarily at Heterosexual Women, the Objects of Their Desires, Study Finds”) (“Narcissism May Benefit the Young, Researchers Report; But Older Adults? Not So Much”)







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