Nice guys finish last

Bad guys really do get the most girls

* 18 June 2008
* NewScientist.com news service
* Mason Inman

NICE guys knew it, now two studies have confirmed it: bad boys get the most girls. The finding may help explain why a nasty suite of antisocial personality traits known as the “dark triad” persists in the human population, despite their potentially grave cultural costs.

The traits are the self-obsession of narcissism; the impulsive, thrill-seeking and callous behaviour of psychopaths; and the deceitful and exploitative nature of Machiavellianism. At their extreme, these traits would be highly detrimental for life in traditional human societies. People with these personalities risk being shunned by others and shut out of relationships, leaving them without a mate, hungry and vulnerable to predators.

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.”

Jonason and his colleagues subjected 200 college students to personality tests designed to rank them for each of the dark triad traits. They also asked about their attitudes to sexual relationships and about their sex lives, including how many partners they’d had and whether they were seeking brief affairs.

The study found that those who scored higher on the dark triad personality traits tended to have more partners and more desire for short-term relationships, Jonason reported at the Human Behavior and Evolution Society meeting in Kyoto, Japan, earlier this month. But the correlation only held in males.

James Bond epitomises this set of traits, Jonason says. “He’s clearly disagreeable, very extroverted and likes trying new things – killing people, new women.” Just as Bond seduces woman after woman, people with dark triad traits may be more successful with a quantity-style or shotgun approach to reproduction, even if they don’t stick around for parenting. “The strategy seems to have worked. We still have these traits,” Jonason says.

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.”

Barbara Oakley of Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, says that the studies “verify something a lot of people have conjectured about”.

Christopher von Rueden of the University of California at Santa Barbara says that the studies are important because they confirm that personality variation has direct fitness consequences.

“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.

From issue 2661 of New Scientist magazine, 18 June 2008, page 1

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3 Responses to “Nice guys finish last”

  1. Artfldgr Says:

    by the way, if paid attention to, last in the articles definition would be in stud sexual encounters.

    however, given that the majority are not that way, i would bet that in truth, nice guys finish first when lifetime outcomes are studied.

    that the depositing of more genes wins over quality of genes may not bear out. the children of handsome cads may not be handsome, or pretty.

    if you can imagine modeling the outcomes, you may find that slow and steady wins the long term race while short term and stupid only appears to win when viewed a certain way.

    they did not actually count the number of children produced. given that there are three subtypes of sperm two of which are for handling other sperms, the cad may be bumping into territory made less fertile. (not to mention that a womans sex organs are not completely passive in their behaviors as many most likely imagine).

    say there are 10 women out that are going to sleep with men. how many of them are once in a whiles, how many of them might be the third guy that day?

    the truth will be everything in between both extremes from only time ever, to they do it every night.

    statistically speaking the ladies getting a lot cause men to waste their favors as that woman can only have one at a time.

    so in essence sexual encounters do not necessarily add up to anything like larger genetic numbers.

    for two people who have two kids each in turn also have two kids and so on… and this is done for 20 generations consistently, no more, no less they would have 1,048,576 offspring walking around at one time, and a lot more than that in ancestors.

    the other condition is not consistently sustainable, as there is no reason to think that the children of such unions will do well enough to consistently have offspring. in fact (without welfare) given outcomes of such kids compared to the other form, they would not produce consistently (though that would also depend on who married whom).

    ultimately, nice guys being called losers for not having enough sex partners in their lifetimes and enough events, seems to only be something that someone might want to say to goad a higher number of those acting in such a way as to not be seen as losers.

    the interesting thing then is what does it then say about the outcomes for those involved?

  2. Artfldgr Says:

    by the way, if paid attention to, last in the articles definition would be in stud sexual encounters.

    however, given that the majority are not that way, i would bet that in truth, nice guys finish first when lifetime outcomes are studied.

    that the depositing of more genes wins over quality of genes may not bear out. the children of handsome cads may not be handsome, or pretty.

    if you can imagine modeling the outcomes, you may find that slow and steady wins the long term race while short term and stupid only appears to win when viewed a certain way.

    they did not actually count the number of children produced. given that there are three subtypes of sperm two of which are for handling other sperms, the cad may be bumping into territory made less fertile. (not to mention that a womans sex organs are not completely passive in their behaviors as many most likely imagine).

    say there are 10 women out that are going to sleep with men. how many of them are once in a whiles, how many of them might be the third guy that day?

    the truth will be everything in between both extremes from only time ever, to they do it every night.

    statistically speaking the ladies getting a lot cause men to waste their favors as that woman can only have one at a time.

    so in essence sexual encounters do not necessarily add up to anything like larger genetic numbers.

    for two people who have two kids each in turn also have two kids and so on… and this is done for 20 generations consistently, no more, no less they would have 1,048,576 offspring walking around at one time, and a lot more than that in ancestors.

    the other condition is not consistently sustainable, as there is no reason to think that the children of such unions will do well enough to consistently have offspring. in fact (without welfare) given outcomes of such kids compared to the other form, they would not produce consistently (though that would also depend on who married whom).

    ultimately, nice guys being called losers for not having enough sex partners in their lifetimes and enough events, seems to only be something that someone might want to say to goad a higher number of those acting in such a way as to not be seen as losers.

    the interesting thing then is what does it then say about the outcomes for those involved?

  3. Artfldgr Says:

    by the way, if paid attention to, last in the articles definition would be in stud sexual encounters.

    however, given that the majority are not that way, i would bet that in truth, nice guys finish first when lifetime outcomes are studied.

    that the depositing of more genes wins over quality of genes may not bear out. the children of handsome cads may not be handsome, or pretty.

    if you can imagine modeling the outcomes, you may find that slow and steady wins the long term race while short term and stupid only appears to win when viewed a certain way.

    they did not actually count the number of children produced. given that there are three subtypes of sperm two of which are for handling other sperms, the cad may be bumping into territory made less fertile. (not to mention that a womans sex organs are not completely passive in their behaviors as many most likely imagine).

    say there are 10 women out that are going to sleep with men. how many of them are once in a whiles, how many of them might be the third guy that day?

    the truth will be everything in between both extremes from only time ever, to they do it every night.

    statistically speaking the ladies getting a lot cause men to waste their favors as that woman can only have one at a time.

    so in essence sexual encounters do not necessarily add up to anything like larger genetic numbers.

    for two people who have two kids each in turn also have two kids and so on… and this is done for 20 generations consistently, no more, no less they would have 1,048,576 offspring walking around at one time, and a lot more than that in ancestors.

    the other condition is not consistently sustainable, as there is no reason to think that the children of such unions will do well enough to consistently have offspring. in fact (without welfare) given outcomes of such kids compared to the other form, they would not produce consistently (though that would also depend on who married whom).

    ultimately, nice guys being called losers for not having enough sex partners in their lifetimes and enough events, seems to only be something that someone might want to say to goad a higher number of those acting in such a way as to not be seen as losers.

    the interesting thing then is what does it then say about the outcomes for those involved?

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