Should Bad Boys Win?

Futurepundit:

Why do psychopaths exist? The ladies help the psychopaths reproduce by going to bed with them. Men who are narcissistic, self-obsessed, liars, psychopaths, Machiavellian, and thrill-seekers get laid more.

Bad boys, it seems, really do get all the girls. Women might claim they want caring, thoughtful types but scientists have discovered what they really want – self-obsessed, lying psychopaths.

OK this isn’t really news to most people.  But still it raises a basic question.  The basic fact of mate selection is that men are collectively greatly responsible for which female traits win in competition for male attention, while women are collectively greatly responsible for which male traits win in competition for female attention.  Accepting this, here are some possible responses to the above results:

  • The result is just wrong, such men do not get more women
  • The result is correct, such men do get more women
    • This is good, these are just the sort of men we want more of
      • Such men are good for each woman they are with
      • Such men are bad for each women, but good for women overall
      • Such men are bad for women overall, but still good overall
    • This is bad, these are not the sort of men we want more of
      • Such behavior results from an inefficient signaling game
      • By choosing such men, women help themselves but hurt other women
      • This is a gender power struggle, where such men are overall good for men but bad for women

What say ye?  And why so little discussion on the gender reversed questions – do we want more of the kinds of women who win when competing to attract men?

GD Star Rating
a WordPress rating system
Tagged as:
Trackback URL:
  • Nat

    Why should it be good/bad for women or good/bad for men? Maybe it’s better for the species. Maybe women are attracted to men that are more dangerous, even though they’d prefer to live with a man that isn’t, so that the species as a whole is better able to defend itself from physical threat.

  • http://infinitefuture.blogspot.com/ Paul Mohr

    The answer is that it is true and it is because it is what is selected by the environment. The world is a harsh place and the perspective of most people is from necessity. I am sure that bad boys get more bad women. The basic issue here is that if you have a population developed to survive in a situation of physical dominance, the predominant vector is physical. If you have a person who is destined to succeed and would be a good mate ( in your context ) the person making the selection would have to be able to detect that fact. The problem there is that even the person who might be selected on their skill cannot know he will succeed. It is much easier to be effective as a member of an established group than it is to establish your own way. Many people who develop technical or scientific skill, do so at the expense of experience with social skills. The choices that people make may not be the best for long term survival, but this is not what is judged. The very nature of chaos in complex situations is that it is difficult to have a valid theory of what might happen much farther than the length of a football field.

  • http://www.hopeanon.typepad.com Hopefully Anonymous

    In technological capability, we’re post-sexual reproduction. I know who I want more of: the people most likely to maximize my persistence odds. Those probably aren’t physically attractive women or emotionally seductive men. They’re probably talented applied mathematicians and scientists creative at solving challenges related to aging and existential risk. I lean toward a policy of breeding/cloning them in mass, and minimizing reproduction of much of the rest of humanity.

  • Divya

    Wouldn’t it be a more likely case that the “self-obsessed, lying psychopaths” are better at making women believe (at least in the short run) that they are the “caring, thoughtful types”?

  • shaun

    usually in nature, a female selects a mate because of their traits of strength, appearance, whatever. That helps to propagate a stronger species. How this could be helping our species is unknown to me because anyone can be an asshole. And I don’t think assholes should reproduce.

  • Anonymous

    I remember learning that there should be a certain balance in a population between the bad boys (psychopaths) and the nice guys (committers) because if the majority of the population are bad boys the children won’t be taken care of and will die, and everybody suffers, but if the majority are nice guys, it gives great opportunity for bad boys to roam around impregnating other men’s wives and have them raised by others “for free”.

  • http://www.allancrossman.com Allan Crossman

    Robin: “The basic fact of mate selection is that men are collectively greatly responsible for which female traits win in competition for male attention, while women are collectively greatly responsible for which male traits win in competition for female attention.”

    For attention, yes, though for actual reproductive success, the effect men have on women is smaller, it seems.

    An unattractive man might have no children, whereas it’s easier for an unattractive woman to have children. At the other extreme, an extremely attractive man could have dozens, or even hundreds of children in ideal circumstances, whereas a woman is limited to one a year or so.

    So male choice has less effect on female reproductive success than the reverse.

    But you know this I think, which is why you said “attention”. :-)

    Nat: “Maybe women are attracted to men that are more dangerous, so that the species as a whole is better able to defend itself from physical threat.”

    Nat and Shaun, you seem to imply that evolution has given women an instinct for the good of the species. This is implausible. I can only direct you to works like The Selfish Gene, or Eliezer’s “Evolving to Extinction”.

    Evolution works at a much lower level. If an organism could have higher reproductive success, at the cost of decreasing the fitness of the species overall, then evolution will favour that sort of organism. This can indeed lead to species evolving to extinction.

  • Elise Conolly

    I have to say that “narcissist, deceitful men self-report that they get laid more often” doesn’t actually strike me as a particularly informative result.

  • poke

    All we know is that “self-obsessed, lying psychopaths” claim to have more sexual partners and claim to be more interested in short term affairs. It could be that (a) “self-obsessed, lying psychopaths” are more likely to lie to women to get them to have sex with them; and (b) “self-obsessed, lying psychopaths” are more likely to lie about their prowess on questionnaires. We don’t even know how many more partners “self-obsessed, lying psychopaths” claim to have had and how it differs from people who aren’t “self-obsessed, lying psychopaths” but are interested in short-term affairs. You have to establish a phenomena exists before you come up with an evolutionary explanation for it.

  • Chance

    Why would we assume that self absorbed deceitful pyschopaths(let’s just call them jerks) are being selected for at all? Even if the women are picking these “bad boys”, it would seem likely (admittedly a broad assumption) that these same men wouldn’t make good fathers, and their offspring would be less likely to survive. That might be fine for a fish, but in a highly social species like us, especially hundreds or thousands of years ago? I find that hard to believe. Perhaps these traits are associated with other, more attractive traits in non-jerks. Sort of how the sickle cell trait helps protect against malaria, but on the downside, can mean sickle cell disease. I’ve heard similiar arguments for why homosexuality hasn’t been selected against.

  • michael vassar

    Seconding Elise and Poke.

    Also, this is mostly a logical quibble but its good to remember that men and women are the same species, so we could also say

    “this is good”, such traits are the result of genes on chromosomes other than the Y chromosome. In men they make everyone worse off but the genes that cause those traits in men have effects in women that make everyone better off by a larger degree” or “this is bad”, such traits are the result of genes on chromosomes other than the Y chromosome. In men they make everyone better off but the genes that cause those traits in men have effects in women that make everyone worse off by a larger degree”.

    I agree that the tendency to ask questions like these about men but not about women suggests, at the least, a very minor social pathology.

  • Bad Boy Representative

    These comments indicate several of you are poorly informed about male and female attraction and mating.

    A bitter response to sexually successful men indicates insecurity, as well as lack of social awareness or success. Among us “bad boys” it is clear that social prowess is the single most important attractive trait in humans, just above athleticism and health.

    I don’t doubt your rationality or expertise in other areas, but in this one, tread lightly. You are likely lacking sufficient evidence to draw firm conclusions. There are many emotional, personal, and instinctual biases when it comes to sex.

    The traits you list, narcissism, self-serving, thrill-seeking? Socially, these indicate that a man is successful. Women are attracted to men who have a choice among women – this is known as pre-selection. Narcissism and self-serving behavior generally indicate a man is willing to give up this woman, as if he has his pick, not the other way around. A thrill-seeking man is one who is comfortable in his ability to survive and prosper regardless of the circumstances. These are all very desirable traits to women.

    So, us bad boys are not stealing your women. We don’t lie or cheat or steal more than anyone else. In fact, we probably lie, cheat, and steal less than truly desperate men. Women come to us because we’re attractive in these ways, and more.

  • Nick Tarleton

    “By choosing such men, women help themselves but hurt other women” – do you mean reproductively or emotionally?

    Chance: even if children of SADPs are less likely to survive, their greater reproductive success if they do survive may outweigh that. (Also, a woman might find, or already have, another man to support them.)

  • Vladimir Slepnev

    Mu casual observations confirm the result. Is it good or bad? For men, the situation is better than the hypothetical reverse, because any man can learn to be a jerk, unlike (say) becoming more intelligent. For women, the situation is as good as the hypothetical reverse, because they get what they select for anyway.

    I have seen Jewish girls actually select mates for intelligence, and haven’t seen this in girls of any other ethnicity, despite widespread claims. I think, but can’t prove, that this makes a difference.

    And, Robin, I take exception to the claim that “men are collectively greatly responsible for which female traits win in competition for male attention”. Women only compete for the top 1 percent of men, don’t lay blame on the rest of us.

  • Nick Tarleton

    Even setting aside Elise and poke’s point (which I’ll second, or third, or fourth), “what [women] really want” is a huge generalization over women, and more importantly, over situations – men who get more sex might not have as much luck in long-term relationships.

    I also second BBR, mostly; “nice guys finish last” seems to me the product of misinterpretation of confidence as jerkiness at best, severe self-flattering at worst, with insecurity as a big factor in both cases.

  • Dark Triad

    How are you gentlemen !!
    All your chicks are belong to us.
    Your genes are on the way to destruction.
    Your genes have no chance to survive make your time.
    Ha ha ha ha !!!

  • Floccina

    “Should Bad Boys Win?” This could be intepreted as a call to end aid to families with depent children.

  • Cyan

    “Men who are narcissistic, self-obsessed, liars, psychopaths, Machiavellian, and thrill-seekers get laid more.” (emphasis mine)

    Worth mentioning: such men may have more partners (or not, as others have noted), but people in committed relationships have more sex than singles on average.

  • http://dl4.jottit.com/contact Richard Hollerith

    Good one, Dark Triad.

  • http://brokensymmetry.typepad.com Michael F. Martin

    People with poor amygdyla function are bad when they go the pyschopath route. But they can be good when they go the asperger’s route.

    I would say that many of the most brilliant specialists in any given field of human endeavor are asperger’s.

  • michael vassar

    Dark Triad: All genes are on the way to destruction.

    Vladimir: I have definitely seen that in non-Jews, though Jews do it more frequently. Try East Asians, French, and very occasionally blacks. Probably some other groups I haven’t noted.

    BBR: Honestly, I don’t know if you are being honest, but people rarely are. Agreed that bitterness and resentment are contemptible. Bad boys might lie less than average guys, but it definitely seems to me that they lie more than nerds. This is only a credit to nerds if a) not lying is as much of a virtue as they think it is AND b) nerds don’t refrain from lying primarily out of fear. a and b both seem largely true though. I’m pretty sure that wealth is a very high end attractive trait, but it correlates strongly and positively with social prowess making them hard to disentangle. Its pretty clear that narcissism and self-serving, even if they are attractive to women, also make them unhappy in the long term and even in the medium term. Lack of thrill seeking also probably does for many/most women though. Many people will be unhappy in almost any circumstance. One shouldn’t withdraw sympathy but also shouldn’t take responsibility for their unhappiness.

  • Doug S.

    What Cyan said: more partners does not necessarily mean more reproductive success. Being committed to one partner is also a successful reproductive strategy for males. One-night stands usually don’t result in a pregnancy.

    Also, with the advent of birth control and other reproductive technologies, “who gets laid” and “who reproduces” have become two different (if overlapping) sets of people.

  • http://yudkowsky.net/ Eliezer Yudkowsky

    Elise’s point occurred to me, but it seems too obvious. Did the researchers check this somehow? How?

  • http://www.free-the-memes.net Michael

    Another thing to consider: In small group settings, like I think we evolved in, an aggressive male would have to prove himself. If he got into too much trouble, he’d get swatted down by other males of higher status than himself. He’d get a bad reputation that he’d be unable to escape. So the worst of the frauds would not succeed.

    In our society, where so many more people are unknown to each other, it’s harder to get a bad reputation, and easier to just move somewhere else and escape it. So we have a situation ripe for fraud. These “dark triad” males are taking advantage of that. They can send all the signals of success to women, without having to back it up, or suffer the punishment of bad reputation.

    So my theory is that women are attracted to jerks because they are sending the biological signals of success. Unearned success, in the case of jerks.

  • http://shagbark.livejournal.com Phil Goetz

    Wouldn’t it be a more likely case that the “self-obsessed, lying psychopaths” are better at making women believe (at least in the short run) that they are the “caring, thoughtful types”?

    Go to tuckermax.com . The page begins like this:

    My name is Tucker Max, and I am an asshole.

    I get excessively drunk at inappropriate times, disregard social norms, indulge every whim, ignore the consequences of my actions, mock idiots and posers, sleep with more women than is safe or reasonable, and just generally act like a raging dickhead.

    Tucker Max claims he gets more women soliciting him in response to this website than he has time to date.

    However, he has lots of drinking friends who are also assholes, who aren’t as successful. Being an asshole alone is not enough. Tucker Max is funny. Although I know guys who are funnier, yet completely unsuccessful with women.

    I agree that the tendency to ask questions like these about men but not about women suggests, at the least, a very minor social pathology.

    We don’t ask questions like this about men because we know the answer. Men like hot chicks. We don’t pretend to be attracted to women with a good personality or a sense of humor. And we don’t perversely like ugly chicks, which would seem to be the equivalent of liking abusive men.

    Many women in their 20s are deliberately having sex with “exciting” men, while intending to find a nice boring man to marry when they’re ready. Mate selection and sexual attraction aren’t the same for any species that forms long-term bonds. Men have 2 strategies: be the steady reliable mate, or the sexy secret lover. It’s good for a woman to get a steady reliable mate. But if she takes a sexy secret lover on the side, then if she has boys, they are more likely to become sexy secret lovers and have more children themselves, thus increasing their mother’s reproductive fitness.

  • ad

    Bear in mind that the person you want to marry, and the person you want to sleep with are not necessarily the same.

    Or even similar.

  • Laura ABJ

    “Bad Boyz” are HOT. Watch Fight Club. They are therefore good for women. If “good boys” took the same kind of initiative, they’d be hot too. They exist… but are less common. How many opportunities to get laid have you missed today?

  • Laura ABJ

    *I meant that HOTness was a value in an of itself for the women… If you take hotness away- then I agree with Goetz.

  • Z. M. Davis

    “We don’t ask questions like this about men because we know the answer. Men like hot chicks. We don’t pretend [...]“

    Phil, the person who made the “social pathology” comment is male. Look, I understand that it is proper to make valid statistical generalizations, and I understand why having to make disclaimers can be frustrating, but at some point, considerations of linguistic precision have to come into play. The fact is, you do not speak for men collectively. Men who are not like you, as well fans of precise language everywhere, would prefer that you didn’t use the first-person plural.

    I would also invite you to reconsider your likening of ugly women to abusive men. Are you really serious?

  • michael vassar

    Good point about knowing the answer Phil. OTOH, as noted, we know the answer with women too, to a decent approximation. A few notes though. 1) based on your data women ARE attracted to a good sense of humor, as Tucker’s friends with a worse sense of humor aren’t successful. 2) pretty sure sexy open lover is a third option. Rocks, paper, scissors. Menelaus, Paris, Achilles. Frequency dependent selection. http://www.gnxp.com/blog/2007/09/popularity-of-pretty-boys-and-frequency.php
    3) I think “in their 20s” is too late. Most smart and sane women start looking for long term partners pretty soon after they complete college in my observation unless they aren’t interested in long term partners at all, which is really pretty rare.
    Also, Z.M Davis seconded on the weakness of the ugly/abusive analogy.

  • Ben Hyink

    Michael F. Martin: “People with poor amygdyla function are bad when they go the pyschopath route. But they can be good when they go the asperger’s route.

    I would say that many of the most brilliant specialists in any given field of human endeavor are asperger’s.”

    This is an interesting comparison. Choices and context have some role, but part of the difference in lying behavior between prototypical psychopaths versus prototypical aspies may be due to the amount of white matter versus white matter in their brains.

    http://www.usc.edu/uscnews/stories/11655.html

    Aspies tend to have more cortical columns than average, which may help to facilitate precise discrimination and a large, detailed knowledge base to support expertise (and innovation) in specific domains (although that also might reduce thrill-seeking outside of familiar domains).

    In contrast, capable liers (compulsive or not), including prototypical “psychopaths”, seem to be much better optimized for fluid adaptation and social manipulation. Many career paths seem to prioritize fluid adaptation, working memory and social skills over preserving a large explicit knowledge base or meeting stringent standards of accuracy (e.g. sales, acting, politics, or any vocation involving personal image control).

    Of course, most people probably fall somewhere in between and some people are capable of being great experts and great showmen.

  • Ben Hyink

    “white matter versus white matter”

    – correction, white matter versus gray matter

  • miki

    The implication is that women ‘choose’ the mate. Its not necessarily the case that Bad Boys ‘get laid’ more but rather ‘lay’ more.

    It might be more the case of Bad Boys sexually presenting themselves more. If 9 in 10 advances are rejected, the Bad Boy making 100 advances is more likely to get laid compared to the Dweeb making 5 advances.

    Men are not flower waiting to attract bees.

  • http://shagbark.livejournal.com Phil Goetz

    Women condition themselves to follow selfish, manipulative people. In grade school, girls form into cliques, with each clique usually led by one girl who is more of a jerk than the other girls in the clique. The girls in higher-ranking cliques are bigger jerks than the girls in lower-ranking cliques. The entire girl hierarchy is one with, generally, nice girls near the bottom, and Machiavellan prom-queen sociopaths at the top.

    Perhaps their attraction to men is partly conditioned by the type of girls they trained themselves to admire and follow.

  • Bad Boy Representative

    Mr. Vassar; thank you for the response.

    You began to talk about happiness. Sleeping around, sleeping with one woman, or remaining abstinent – none of these options are associated with long term happiness! Think of the miserable husbands, lonely old men, or (perhaps less visible) empty player. Men who sleep around often get the sense that there’s little meaning in their lives. Children and monogamy provide meaning, at the expense of independence.

    My general point is: making arguments about sexual selection traits in humans is unlikely to contain truth. Too many opinions, not enough verifiable evidence. If you really want to _rationally_ understand human behavior, a lot of study and experimentation is required.

    My secondary point is: it’s usually the assholes who have a better understanding of human nature than the nerds!

  • Peter St. Onge

    While I believe the data, I disagree with the characterization of jerks as “more attractive.” My guess is women prefer nice guys, but jerks are more extroverted. Jerks may even have a lower batting average, but have many, many more at-bats.

    As for humanity, it’s good for the jerk and the woman (revealed prefs), but seems bad for humanity since anti-social behavior is subsidized by sexual access.

  • Laura ABJ

    Bad Boyz are more likely to fuck anything that moves, thereby gaining much experience and making them more attractive to the 0.01% of women you nerds would consider possible mates… Hence you lose.

  • Laura ABJ

    Can’t help but feel this is somehow like the alien that put the money in the box based on prior predictions of your psychology whether you’d stay with the million in Box A or go for the extra $100 in box B… You B-boxers know your answers already, you’re psychology has been predicted, accept your 100 bucks and accept your role as “smart friend,” and don’t get all uppity at the less rational gamblers…

  • eric falkenstein

    Confidence is sexy, for men and women. A certain suredness in the way one talks, or moves, is attractive. Those too introspective, too self-actualized, perhaps can’t fake it. Women like good dancers, and I think it takes confidence as much as anything to be a good dancer. What women fantasizes about Woody Allen or David Hume?

    Note that a lot of the great musicals are about a nice girl taming the cad, turning him into a dad (Music Man, Guys and Dolls). Implausible, but it perhaps hits a primordial desire in women to turn a successful but philandering alpha male into a genetic donor and provider.

  • Ben Hyink

    Some amusing satirical quotes by George Bernard Shaw on sexuality, purpose and value:

    “Love consists in overestimating the difference between one woman and another.”
    – GB Shaw

    GB Shaw, Man and Superman, the section “Maxims for Revolutionists”
    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Man_and_Superman/Maxims_for_Revolutionists

    # Marriage is popular because it combines the maximum of temptation with the maximum of opportunity.

    # Polygamy, when tried under modern democratic conditions, as by the Mormons, is wrecked by the revolt of the mass of inferior men who are condemned to celibacy by it; for the maternal instinct leads a woman to prefer a tenth share in a first rate man to the exclusive possession of a third rate one. Polyandry has not been tried under these conditions.

    # Any marriage system which condemns a majority of the population to celibacy will be violently wrecked on the pretext that it outrages morality.

    # He who desires a lifetime of happiness with a beautiful woman desires to enjoy the taste of wine by keeping his mouth always full of it.

    # The most intolerable pain is produced by prolonging the keenest pleasure.

    # Self-denial is not a virtue: it is only the effect of prudence on rascality.

    # Obedience simulates subordination as fear of the police simulates honesty

    # Vice is waste of life. Poverty, obedience, and celibacy are the canonical vices.

    # Economy is the art of making the most of life.

    # The love of economy is the root of all virtue.

    # No age or condition is without its heroes. The least incapable general in a nation is its Cæsar, the least imbecile statesman its Solon, the least confused thinker its Socrates, the least commonplace poet its Shakespear.

    # In a stupid nation the man of genius becomes a god: everybody worships him and nobody does his will.

  • mjgeddes

    This from pick-up artist Neil Strauss’s web-site

    About Me:

    “I’m a selfish prick. A hot, rich pampered intellectual with a big dick and a marathon tounge. I’m young enough to do it often and old enough to do it right. I don’t have time for pretty drama or emotional hysterics. I do what I want, when I want”

    Actually he made that up, and placed it as a personal ad as an experiment.

    It was the most successful ad with woman ever.(I’m not kidding)

    Neil Strauss Website

    Unfortunately, this would tend to support the result posted by R.Hanson.

  • http://www.hopeanon.typepad.com Hopefully Anonymous

    Woody Allen is a successful stand-up comic, actor, actor, and film director. And at the least a solid B list celebrity. He is to a professional pick up artist what a hedge fund billionaire is to a certified financial planner. Oh yeah, and he projects elite level confidence.

  • Frank Hirsch

    BBR says:

    The traits you list, narcissism, self-serving, thrill-seeking? Socially, these indicate that a man is successful.

    I’m not sure. In our past it sure did, because acting the alpha without actually being it would with high probability get you a serious thrashing. Nowadays everyone can run around and act the center of the world with no serious negative consequences.

    Apart from that, how genetically determined is all that psyopathy stuff anyways? Might mankind just be driving on a mixed strategy here?

  • Colin Reid

    I think we need to be careful in working out what is a general property of people’s behaviour, due to their genes, and what is cultural ephemera. It may be that in modern American society, say, women prefer the bad boys, but that doesn’t mean it generalises. I think Phil Goetz is onto something when he mentions high school society, though one should be careful about blaming individuals for the emergence of social dynamics.

    I can think of one probable case of sexual selection acting on women: breasts. Not the mammary glands themselves; their function is obvious. I’m talking about the mass of fat around them, which other primates don’t have to nearly the same extent. Can anyone give a convincing explanation for this besides as a fertility signal aimed at men?

    The tagline ‘bad boys get laid more’ could easily be mirrored for women in modern society. There is a subset of women who have significantly more ‘reproductive success’ than the rest: those who start having sex at an early age, are prepared to have sex with almost any male, and who don’t use contraception or have abortions. I suspect in the modern developed world, any downsides in terms of not getting the best genes from the father or not being able to look after the children properly will be swamped by sheer numbers. Like men being jerks, it’s a strategy that should be easy to adopt, yet most don’t. Cultural ephemera? Maybe, but it’s not clear that the ‘bad boy’ phenomenon is any less specific.

  • Heh

    Response to Bad Boy Representative’s poor argument

    “These comments indicate several of you are poorly informed about male and female attraction and mating.”

    Ad hominem fallacy.

    “A bitter response to sexually successful men indicates insecurity, as well as lack of social awareness or success.”

    Ad hominem fallacy.

    “Among us “bad boys” it is clear that social prowess is the single most important attractive trait in humans, just above athleticism and health.”

    Wow. What a crappy ampliative argument. You go from one subculture’s views on what is an attractive trait to universalising the concept to all humans.

    “I don’t doubt your rationality or expertise in other areas, but in this one, tread lightly. You are likely lacking sufficient evidence to draw firm conclusions.”

    As opposed to anecdotal evidence from PUAs.

    “The traits you list, narcissism, self-serving, thrill-seeking? Socially, these indicate that a man is successful.”

    No, they arn’t a causal conditional, which is what you are implying. Narcissism, and the other traits you listed, are neither a necessary or sufficient condition for a man’s success. A man can be successful without those traits. Those traits also correlate with individuals in prison. Being in prison is not an indicator for success.

    “Women are attracted to men who have a choice among women – this is known as pre-selection.”

    Again, neither a necessary, nor a sufficient condition. Imagine a social situation wherein one male and one female interact. How does that female know that the man has a choice among multiple other women? She doesn’t. So it isn’t a causal condition for attraction.

    As to the rest of your argument. Not even worth it as you aren’t making sense. You also state the following:

    “making arguments about sexual selection traits in humans is unlikely to contain truth. Too many opinions, not enough verifiable evidence. If you really want to _rationally_ understand human behavior, a lot of study and experimentation is required.”

    Incorrect. Study and experimentation is a form of inductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning is a type of argumentation. Therefore Study and experimentation is a type of argumentation. Here’s a tip: If you really want to rationally understand argument and critical thinking a lot of reading and practice is required.

    “it’s usually the assholes who have a better understanding of human nature than the nerds!”

    Ad Hominem Fallacy.

    Bad Boy Representative, perhaps you should go back to the PUA forums with the rest of the shallow pop-sci PUAs who make a mockery out of science and critical thinking.

  • Joey P.

    The statistics in this study are probably way, way off (not to mention the first study only has 200 college students. Jesus, talk about a crappy sample set).

    The worst problem with this study is that it relies on deceptive individuals to give information about one of the aspects of our lives in which we are the most liberal about the truth: Sex. The surveyors are relying on deceptive individuals to be truthful on their surveys. I’m willing to be that they were not.

  • Andrew

    Sounds like a “failure of the mating market” type criticism to me. I’m guessing “the solution” will involve regulation of mating (to help us make good choices, of course).

  • michael vassar

    BBR: I agree with your first point. I think that your second point is true with respect to children. As they get older, most nerds develop a MUCH better understanding of human nature than the assholes, but less time putting it into practice still may mean less net effective practical social skills. Physicists know more about angular momentum than acrobats.

    Hopefully: Good for calling people out on Woody. Totally right.
    He even claims he wants to live forever.
    Maybe you should give him a call, I bet you could get through with some effort.
    People are confusing him with the character he typically plays.

    Great points by Phil on high school status and by Laura on practice.

    Colin: good point about women and reproductive success. They key difference is that male promiscuity is more widely admired than female.

    Andrew: Are you kidding? Have you ever read ANYTHING here? Hello? George Mason economics…

  • Laura ABJ

    Thoughts from the only girl posting as to why this ad is in fact hot:

    “About Me:

    “I’m a selfish prick. A hot, rich pampered intellectual with a big dick and a marathon tounge. I’m young enough to do it often and old enough to do it right. I don’t have time for pretty drama or emotional hysterics. I do what I want, when I want”

    -Ok, so first of all, this guy sure sounds like he knows what he’s doing. Big Dick? Marathon tongue? Do it often, do it right? These things actually matter! They are not just narcissism. What would you guys think about an ad posted by a woman advertising that she was a dirty little slut with a ton of experience with felatio, yoga, and intimate massage? We are not that different- stop assuming we’re a different species.

    -Next, “No time for emotional hysterics.” Hurrah! No strings attached! No need to feel guilty about melting your little special unique snow-flake of a soul if we don’t want to spend the rest of our lives with you… Sound familar? Can’t imagine a guy saying the exact same thing… oh wait, that’d make him a “bad boy.”

    Also, it is absolutely untrue that it is obvious what men want. It’s not just boobs. Why d’yall have such a madonna-whore complex about sleeping around? Why don’t we have a post entitled “Should Good-Girls win?” Oh, because you think it’s so obvious why whores and their unwanted progeny should perish…

    Gah! men…

  • Grant

    Laura,

    The reason the above ad looks silly to most men (and it looks mildly retarded to me) is that its obviously a lie. Everyone knows those sorts of self-descriptive comments are almost always heavily exaggerated when coming from a male, if not totally made up. The “bad boys” are willing to lie and completely misrepresent themselves in order to pick up women, even when their boisterous behavior is obvious to anyone with an IQ above 70. This sort of deception is required in order to “play the game” and thus date, but if you take a step back and observe the process as an impartial observer, doesn’t it appear to be a bit silly?

    The mystery seems to be why these techniques work. Perhaps being able to “play the alpha” was impossible in tribal society, so women are attracted to it even when its obviously a ploy.

  • Laura ABJ

    Well, I do believe there is a positive correlation between such a boast, especially one so well phrased, and actual ability. It would seem the rest of the female world agrees. I don’t see why its “obvious” to you men that it’s all lies… Men with abilities have something to boast about, and they do so, loudly. You know like that species of snake where the two snakes wrestle and the one the wins later goes on to mate and the one that loses just doesn’t mate, even though there’s nothing physically stopping it… Well, like that. Why does this make the women retarded? Do you know something about male lovers that I don’t???

  • Elise Conolly

    Another couple of thoughts. Would a similar study of women show up similar results?

    I can entirely imagine a correlation between “narcisstic, selfish” and “prefers casual sex to committed relationships”, in which case what this might be saying is “a preference for casual sex leads to more sexual partners”

    [This bit is anecdotal, but] I have a preference for men (& women for that matter) who don’t want to commit, because they don’t get upset when I don’t want to commit, which I expect is shared with other promiscuous women, and obviously the preferences of promiscuous women are going to be weighted more heavily in terms of how often men get laid.

  • Elise Conolly

    Grant: IME there is a very strong correlation between arrogance and sexual ability. Whilst the ad may be a lie, it still strikes me as a good indicator.

  • Alex

    Do we know for a fact that psychopathy is determined by genetics? I know that there are certain physiological indicators of it in the brain, but I’m not aware of any strong genetic component.

  • Grant

    Laura,

    There may be a correlation, but I can’t help but think there are stronger signals out there than obvious deception (unless women want to be deceived). “Alpha” men typically exaggerate about everything they can get away with, the size of their genitalia and their prowess in bed being classic (timeless?) examples. The reason its obvious to me, as a male, is that men are surrounded by this sort of behavior. Women don’t really boast like men do, so maybe men just learn to spot it better?

    Among more intelligent men, boasting has to be much more subtle than the above ad. Consider how much more refined a lie would have to be to impress someone like Robin Hanson, vs. an average blue-collar drinking buddy.

    Elise,

    Well thats a good point. Sexual ability is one of those things that confidence is a prerequisite for, for physiological reasons if nothing else.

    So my question is, why don’t women look more for genuineness? Are they unable to spot it, so instead look for any signals they can? If women are looking for boastfulness as a signal of underlying value, then being genuine would be seen as a signal of low value, which seems to be what happens.

  • http://shagbark.livejournal.com Phil Goetz

    Peter St. Onge wrote:

    My guess is women prefer nice guys, but jerks are more extroverted. Jerks may even have a lower batting average, but have many, many more at-bats.

    You need to consider 2 categories: Women looking for a boyfriend, and women looking to hook up. Nice guys will get to be boyfriends more often if they go out more often. But a guy with no game will almost never hook up for a one-night-stand with a woman of equal attractiveness, no matter how many times he goes cruising. It’s the one-night-stands that the jerks really shine at.

    This may be because, with boyfriends, there needs to be a roughly 1/1 male/female ratio, whereas with one-night-stands, there does not (a woman may want to hook up only one night a week, while a man may every night of the week). Women can thus be much more selective about one-night-stand partners than about boyfriends. This would not require any difference in underlying female preferences between boyfriends + one-nighters.

    Laura ABJ wrote:

    Bad Boyz are more likely to fuck anything that moves, thereby gaining much experience and making them more attractive to the 0.01% of women you nerds would consider possible mates…

    3 problems with this.

    1. “Bad boyz are more likely to fuck anything that moves” – What you are really saying is that bad boyz have had more sex. (Nerds would also like to fuck anything that moves; they just don’t have the opportunity.) So you are saying that bad boys get more sex because bad boys have had more sex. This explains nothing.

    2. Bad boyz are lousy lovers. This based on conversations with and writings by self-proclaimed bad boyz. Many of them do what they want to do in bed, paying no attention to what the woman wants or whether she comes. She wants 2 hours; they want to be in and out in 15 minutes. And having splooge sprayed in your hair or all over your back can’t be fun.

    3. If you think “we” are a bunch of foolish and bitter nerds, perhaps you should leave. Or learn some manners.

  • Ian C.

    Even if a boast is obviously false it still demonstrates self-confidence – the confidence necessary to tell a bald faced lie right to someone’s face.

  • Elise Conolly

    Grant: re “So my question is, why don’t women look more for genuineness?”

    I expect women looking for committed relationships do look for genuineness, but it’s not particularly relevant for casual sex, and women responding to ads like that one are going to be looking for casual sex.

    Phil: “Bad boyz” are usually very competent lovers. This based on fucking a lot of them.

  • Laura ABJ

    Goetz-

    1- It’s been explained earlier in the discussion that “Bad Boyz” try more, and therefore get more success by sheer numbers. This in turn gives them experience, which in turn makes them more attractive. So yes- it’s a positive feedback cycle.

    2- I suppose the problem might be with using the word “Bad Boy” as a mental stopsign. Maybe we should taboo this word. I agree that your description of a bad boy IS a lousy lover… I suppose I’ve had enough taste never to encounter that.

    3- Sorry for the overgeneralization. Some sort of fallacy there… As far as manners are concerned, it gets frustrating when your gender, over which you have no control, is pigeon-holed as irrational, when I believe there is a true lack of understanding. That this “study” however it was conducted, was even presented as something to be considered on a “rationalist” blog is sexist. The men here might be more polite about how they phrase it, buts lets face it, most of them think we’re the weaker sex. Don’t like being objectified when the shoe is on the other foot???

  • Laura ABJ

    Goetz-
    Also amused that you pretend to know anything about my splooge preferences…

  • Z. M. Davis

    Goetz today: “If you think ‘we’ are a bunch of foolish and bitter nerds, perhaps you should leave. Or learn some manners.”

    Goetz yesterday: “Women condition themselves to follow selfish, manipulative people.”

    Curious. By what possible standard is an unflattering generalization about Overcoming Bias readers rude and uncalled for, but an unflattering generalization about half of humanity acceptable?

  • Laura ABJ

    Go Davis!

    Yeah, I mean, I was just having a conversation with my PI about how her son is having a difficult time with the other children in middle-school because he doesn’t dress right, doesn’t play sports well, isn’t very tall, and isn’t popular. Sounds exactly like what happened to my brother… Why isn’t there a movie called “Mean Boys” exploring the psychology of heirarchical men who learn to follow the meanest brute? Oh- wait, that’s right, men are the standard by which civilization is measured- the norm- and there is therefore no reason to make a special effort to explore their psychology in particular, because it is the same as the psychology of humanity in general… Women on the other hand, are different.

  • Doug S.

    This seems to be one of those topics that people need to be much less confident about; the newspaper article seems like textbook bad science reporting, extrapolating far beyond what the study actually shows.

    Very few people are saying anything here that goes beyond cultural stereotypes. We need quantitative data to draw any real conclusions!

  • Laura ABJ

    Grant-
    You got something you’re too shy to tell the world about????

  • Doug S.
  • Grant

    Another possibility, which was sort-of mentioned in the article Doug links, is that “bad boys” are less likely to be in long-term relationships than “nice guys”, and so simply have more opportunity to have more sexual partners. This doesn’t mean the nice guys would be less successful in the same circumstances, it may just be a misconception that men prefer a larger variety of partners to a smaller number of steady ones (which I don’t think is true in many cases).

    Admittedly its hard for me to ignore the number of women who have flat-out said (to me, at least) that they like jerks or assholes, when I’ve never heard a guy say anything similar. But I agree with Doug; we need more data.

    Laura, don’t most people? Not sure how that relates to this topic, however.

  • Michael Sullivan

    “The reason the above ad looks silly to most men (and it looks mildly retarded to me) is that its obviously a lie. Everyone knows those sorts of self-descriptive comments are almost always heavily exaggerated when coming from a male, if not totally made up.”

    Of course it’s all a lie and a posture, and most women are not stupid enough to believe every word. Sending this guy a message is not falling for the lie, it is signalling back that you are in on the joke.

    Flirting is a game, and this guy knows how to play. There’s a combination of counter-signaling and an undercurrent of real signaling, because if he were the kind of selfish prick that didn’t have any idea how to satisfy a woman in bed, he wouldn’t write *that*.

    You may despise this game, but you just as you cannot take the sexual prowess claims at face value, you also cannot take the claims to being a selfish prick at face value. I’d guess that most of the women who responded did neither, they balanced all of it and made some second order guesses about this guy’s real personality and motives. Same thing is going on with Tucker Max. The difference between Tucker’s success and his friends is that he’s probably not anywhere near as big an asshole as he presents, and women can sense it.

    The real assholes are the ones who don’t know or accept their own desires well enough to say right up front what they really want is a good fuck and not TrueLoveAndEternalHappiness[tm].

    I know someone who was pulled aside at a friend and former lover’s wedding rehearsal to be told something like “you know you were always the one I really wanted”. *That* guy is an asshole. Tucker Max and Neal Strauss are just playboys. Can you imagine them doing that? I can’t either. That’s the realm of the NiceGuy[tm], the guy who thinks his Niceness entitles him to pretty much anything from women he wants.

  • Doug S.

    I suspect that men are attracted to things other than looks, but often don’t admit exactly what attracts them. For example, Tina Fey is a goddess, and it’s not because she looks like a supermodel. It’s because she’s famous, and funny, and intelligent, and, well, all those things that women are said to find attractive in men. (Interestingly, readers of AfterEllen.com, a web magazine for lesbian and bisexual women, voted Tina Fey the sexiest woman in the world.)

    “I have to say, I’m really not that attractive. Until I met my husband, I could not get a date.” -Tina Fey

    See also http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/GeekyTurnOn

  • Z. M. Davis

    “The real assholes are the ones who don’t know or accept their own desires well enough to say right up front what they really want is a good fuck and not TrueLoveAndEternalHappiness[tm].”

    Michael, what’s the difference between “really” wanting something, and merely believing that one wants something? Also, isn’t it possible to want both a good fuck and True Love and Eternal Happiness?

    I am tempted to speculate that the real assholes are the people who go around insisting that they know what other people really want, in direct contradiction of the physical evidence in the form of the subject’s actual statements and behaviors. But it is a matter for further study.

  • josh

    Laura:
    “Why isn’t there a movie called “Mean Boys” exploring the psychology of heirarchical men who learn to follow the meanest brute?”

    You may have overstepped here. There are a million movies about exactly this topic that are at least of the quality of “Mean Girls.”

  • Laura ABJ

    Josh-
    Fair enough. But I still get the impression that this is considered the failing of society as a whole and not a failing of men in particular, whereas there is much material covering the failings of women as a sex… Movies/art discussing men being assholes are usually trivialized as feminist and irritating… and they usually are irritating– but I don’t know enough about movies to say that there hasn’t been good art produced in this genre. So yes- forgive my lack of precision.

    Michael Sullivan- really good way to put it! Ah eloquence…

    And yes, it should be obvious that the “good boys” in monogamous LTMs have quantitatively more sex. I’ve had more sex with my husband than anyone else, though I wouldn’t necessarily characterize him as a good boy by the old definition of the word, I would by Michael Sullivan’s.

  • Michael Sullivan

    “Michael, what’s the difference between “really” wanting something, and merely believing that one wants something? Also, isn’t it possible to want both a good fuck and True Love and Eternal Happiness?”

    Surely it is possible, even common. I did not intend to preclude the possibility.

    The difference between “really” wanting something and merely believing it was imprecise. I should have known to unpack that. But I am not thinking of some psychobabblish mind-reading, merely of behavioral inconsistencies. One common example is post-coital statements and behavior not reconciling with pre-coital statements and behavior.

    Neither Tucker nor Neil appear to be a jerk in this sense of deliberately setting up false expectations to get what they want, only to dash them in the morning after.

    OTOH, an awful lot of men I’ve known who would self describe as nice guys have done exactly this, often with little or no regrets, when out of desperation they court someone who is not to their liking as a mate.

    In my experience, nice guys who don’t get laid are often not nearly as nice as they think they are, while the Jerks who do are often not as jerky as they appear from the perspective of one who cannot reach those oh, so very sour grapes.

  • http://shagbark.livejournal.com Phil Goetz

    Curious. By what possible standard is an unflattering generalization about Overcoming Bias readers rude and uncalled for, but an unflattering generalization about half of humanity acceptable?

    Intent. Laura’s comment sounded, to me, like it was intended to give offense.

    Or maybe I was just practicing being a jerk.

    And, it’s true, I don’t know her splooge preferences. Perhaps if I insult her a few more times…

    Michael Sullivan, good point about “nice guys” not always being so nice. Being arrogant or a jerk isn’t really what turns women on. But it’s not confidence, either. More like being a showman. I know haven’t got it quite figured out, because I thought women would love the Crocodile Hunter, but the ones I asked said he wasn’t sexy at all.

  • Laura ABJ

    Steve was a cutie-pie, but he was such a good family man, that no one wanted to even imagine interfering there. Also, he did start to get fat. I had a friend who wanted to find her own personal Steve Irwin, but I don’t think she meant sexually. Good enough explanation? Having too much fun here- need to go to party now…

  • http://www.allancrossman.com Allan Crossman

    In my experience, nice guys who don’t get laid are often not nearly as nice as they think they are, while the Jerks who do are often not as jerky as they appear

    True enough. But for the purposes of the study (or at least, media reports of it) “bad boys” are specifically defined as “narcissistic, self-obsessed, liars, psychopaths, Machiavellian, and thrill-seekers”.

    It’s no good saying that so-called “bad boys” aren’t really like that. That’s irrelevant to the actual (or alleged) results.

    (But we’ve certainly had enough methodological problems raised to wonder whether the study is sound, regardless of definitions.)

  • Z. M. Davis

    Goetz: “I don’t know her splooge preferences. Perhaps if I insult her a few more times…”

    I trust I will be forgiven if I interpret this as Bayesian evidence for the “foolish, bitter, misogynistic nerds” hypothesis.

  • http://shagbark.livejournal.com Phil Goetz

    I trust I will be forgiven if I interpret this as Bayesian evidence for the “foolish, bitter, misogynistic nerds” hypothesis.

    Hey! I am not, um, foolish!

    It was supposed to be funny. But you will be forgiven. :) I can see it could be interpreted otherwise.

    After 76 comments, isn’t it time for someone to ask whether women love Hitler?

  • Nick Tarleton

    It’s no good saying that so-called “bad boys” aren’t really like that. That’s irrelevant to the actual (or alleged) results.

    But it is relevant to the discussion, because the study’s choice of that term creates a misleading mental link between its subject and the ordinary-language use of “bad boy”. (I’m too lazy to dig up Eliezer’s post saying this.)

  • Cyan
  • Cyan

    (rimshot was re: deliberate Godwin’s law triggering)

  • Wendy Collings

    If bad boys win, where are they all?

    If the study tells the whole story, we’d expect to have seen the “bad boy factor” increase steadily each generation. We haven’t. Possible reasons:

    - Bad boys get more sex, but mostly with the same few bad girls who like hanging round bad boys.

    - Bad boys brag more. The study isn’t accurate.

    - Few bad boys keep their panache for long. Most become sad-looking losers with beer guts and dodgy knees from motorbike accidents.

    - Pregnancies to bad boys are aborted more often.

    - Bad boy genes don’t necessarily get passed on intact.

    Did Jonason really expect college students – including the vain, deceitful ones – to tell the truth about their sex lives? And did he consider studying their 20-years-older counterparts? I honestly can’t take the results that seriously.

  • Elise Conolly

    Grant: Re: “Admittedly its hard for me to ignore the number of women who have flat-out said (to me, at least) that they like jerks or assholes, when I’ve never heard a guy say anything similar.”

    I actually think that guys say similar things a lot, but the characteristics (selfish, unreliable, deceitful, and yet somehow interesting) that are described as “asshole” in men are usually described as “crazy” in women. The trope of men*’s preference for crazy women has made it at least as far as one of the most popular geek comics of recent times, as well as being something I see a lot in my social circle.

    *and not just men. I think crazy geek girls are hot.

  • Elise Conolly

    DougS: “I suspect that men are attracted to things other than looks, but often don’t admit exactly what attracts them.”

    I think the first half of your sentence is true, but the second half is nonsense, and if anything buying into the myth I’ve heard that “All men care most about looks, and those who say otherwise are are deceiving themselves or lying for some reason.”

    This is somewhere between anecdote and data, but I got laid about as much now* as a fat woman with a dyke haircut and waistcoats and trousers as I did when I was a slender nineteen year old with waist length hair and a good line in corsets and six inch heels. I have this revolutionary theory that different men and different women like different things, and the people I pull these days have different preferences to those I pulled five years ago.

    *whilst the rest of the details may be anecdotary, I update my “list” about every six months, and I have slept with about one new person a month for the last decade.

  • itchy

    None of the above.

    Whatever he might have been before, any guy who gets the girl we want becomes, by definition, a lying, narcissistic, self-obsessed, Machiavellian psychopath — while we are nice and sensitive and unappreciated.

  • Kellen

    As a twenty year old in college I think one thing overlooked up to this point is the impact getting laid frequently has on male status, particularly among young people of the facebook/myspace generation who typically withhold very little information from one another in their quests for acceptance/popularity. In other words, guy gets laid, the words spread, he is ‘the man’ temporarily. So if a high frequency of sex begets elevated status, it makes a great deal of sense the most successful at this endeavor would be the unabashed status seekers, or dark triads seeking primarily hedonistic ends by any means.

  • Doug S.

    I think the first half of your sentence is true, but the second half is nonsense, and if anything buying into the myth I’ve heard that “All men care most about looks, and those who say otherwise are are deceiving themselves or lying for some reason.”

    I guess that didn’t come out right. What I meant to say was, that men’s attraction to factors other than looks sometimes gets mislabled as attraction to looks; that non-looks factors may be more important to men than conventional wisdom says, but their effects get credited to looks. (Hence, my example of Tina Fey becoming a “hottie” only after she became a famous comedienne.)

  • Xianhang

    I’m deeply suspicious of the methodology of that study. It relied on self report of both the propensity to lie and the number of sexual partners. Another perfectly plausible hypothesis is that people who like more also tend to (surprise, surprise) lie more about sex.

  • josh

    Perhaps its just a matter of men and women who are most interested in casual sex finding each other. For instance, I would probably never would have had much interest in getting to know the kind of woman who would respond to the previously posted personal ad, and my wife wouldn’t have had much interest in meeting the guy who wrote the ad.

    A better question might be why such ads don’t just say, “I am promiscuous and seeking somebody equally promiscuous.” I guess people enjoy the dance. I suppose I used to to some degree as well. At the same time, I don’t think you can have much respect for somebody if you are actively using practiced or learned “tricks” in order to seduce them based on some conception of ev. psych. The fact that it is called “game” might be somewhat revealing. A “player” doesn’t care if the other person regrets their decision. It’s high pressure sales, which is kind of distasteful to me, and that goes for both genders.

  • Miya

    Yes, “Bad Boys” should win.
    The actual distinction between “bad boys” and “nice guys” is not that bad boys are evil and nice guys are nice, but that “bad boys” are honest, and “nice guys” are pretending to be something they are not. Most women are remarkably good at spotting a liar, actually. That is why “nice guys” never get any. Their entitlement complex is spotted a mile away.

    Sure, women still date attractive guys who aren’t honest, just like men date women who aren’t honest, but are attractive. People who date aren’t in for mating. They’re in for cheap thrill. Dating =/= wanting to live with that person forever. For actual mating, oddly, ACTUALLY nice men are in high demand. No, you who want to do nice things for sex? You’re not wanted. The actually nice guy next to you? Yeah, he is.

    And as for the story: Poor research. The sample size is horrible, so is the grouping. A study is meaningless when it does not contain a clear distinction that defines who is in what group. Self identification does not work for this. We just know these “nice guys” think they are nice, we don’t know they actually are – it is more likely that they’re of the kind who actually isn’t nice at all, and thus never gets laid.

    With studies like this, no ‘bias’ can be overcome – bias is made. But then, that is typical for these virgin “nice guys”.

  • iwdw

    Admittedly its hard for me to ignore the number of women who have flat-out said (to me, at least) that they like jerks or assholes, when I’ve never heard a guy say anything similar

    This is incomprehensible to me. I’ve known several guys who clearly prefer dating bitches (one actually admitted it under the influence of sufficient quantities of alcohol).

    There could certainly be different social filters for admitting you prefer negative qualities in your mate (although, if you admire them, then they’re not really negative in any absolute sense…). But I have a hard time believing you’ve never known any guy who didn’t have a thing for a woman who mistreats him.

  • unfortunate conflict of data

    “nice guys” are pretending

    Well. There’s a sort of downward spiral:

    1. Man starts off as a genuinely nice guy.
    2. Man becomes disillusioned and cynical, but still thinks he’s a nice guy.
    3. Man becomes bitter and “jerky”, but not in a sexy way. He still thinks he’s a nice guy.
    4. Man gives up entirely, and adopts a philosophy where biological needs like sex are to be transcended, like Buddhism or Transhumanism.

    (OK, number 4 is said half-jokingly. But only half. I’m at this stage myself. I used to be a genuinely nice guy, before I became twisted and bitter. Now I’m neither a “nice guy” nor a “bad boy”. But anyway, I’ve given up on the whole damn thing, and am resigned to being lonely forever.)

  • http://shagbark.livejournal.com Phil Goetz

    The actual distinction between “bad boys” and “nice guys” is not that bad boys are evil and nice guys are nice, but that “bad boys” are honest, and “nice guys” are pretending to be something they are not.

    Um, no.

  • Frank Hirsch

    This discussion is really rather interesting, especially some of the comments of female source, but one thing kinda annoys me: Again and again, people drag in the folk psychology “bad boys” and “nice guys”, while some try to discuss men who are “narcissistic, self-obsessed, liars, psychopaths, Machiavellian, and thrill-seekers”. Again and again, two discussions which should be carried out separately get mixed up.
    Fems boasting about their positive experiences with “bad boys” might want to take notice of the difference, or alternatively not come crying when the guy who swore eternal love and faithfulness and eventual marriage as soon as he has “sorted out a few things” one day goes missing buying cigarettes.
    There IS a big difference between casual sex with no strings attached (which is honest, fair and fun) and callous, ruthless deception and exploitation.
    You may want to get that one straight, really!

  • Wendy Collings

    Frank – I was using Bad Boys as shorthand for “men who are narcissistic, self-obsessed, liars, psychopaths, Machiavellian, and thrill-seekers”; I assumed others were too. Jonason uses Dark Triad for his shorthand, but it seems to mean just what I’ve always understood Bad Boys to mean. It’s probably supposed to make his study look more scientific (fat chance). I think I’ll stick to Bad Boys (not literally!), I trust it’s not too misleading.

  • Frank Hirsch

    Wendy:
    I have read (and just now re-read) your post, and I have no strong objections to your POV. I was not refering to you especially in my comment. All you have stated actually brightens my outlook for the human race. =)

  • Laura ABJ

    I agree with Miya!!!!

    This might be way TMI, but since real data seems to be in short supply, let me provide an illustrative example of the bad-but-actually-good boy vs the loser nice-guy-asshole:

    My first boyfriend, when I was 15, was a 24 year old transexual, transhumanist, rationalist, sado-masochist with a penchant for corrupting the young and uninformed, and he was a very bad bad bad bad bad bad boy (you know who you are)! Actually, in most modern countries I could have had imprisoned whenever I so desired- that’s trust for you! He actually wasn’t a monster like the media would have us believe- I lied to him the first night I met him that I was an 18 y/o student at the community college, and the only thing unbelievable about that was that I would deign to go to a community college… I was writing poetry like (excerpt)
    “Epicurus, Descartes, Gribbin played
    This interactive game
    By the night’s florescent light
    Of Philosophies in vain,
    Utility’s futility would all our actions claim.

    And when we two had analyzed
    Each topic we could find
    As Pawns on two adjacent points,
    We paralleled of mind.

    Purusing Chess books cheek to cheek
    In pure palatial Pleasure,
    One microcosmic, molten mind-
    You, me, and Bobby Fischer.”

    Still, he found out my real age shortly thereafter and was not put-off. Though he did not have any qualms about screwing a 15 year old, he was at least honest and good enough to tell me that he was not able to wait three years for me to turn 18 to ever have sex again, and would like to see other girls too. At 15, this was devastating to me, and we broke up. He could easily have just slept around and not said anything… Was he really so bad a guy?

    Now, my most recent new lover was by the metrics of this blog, a very “good boy”- Ivy-League physicist mega-nerd with top GREs, love of Star-trek, Magic, D&D, the works… Not a terrible lover either. Unfortunately, it ended up as a one night stand, because the next day he FREAKED OUT about having done a married chick (even though I said I was a swinger and it was fine)- said his moral/ethical center had severely malfunctioned, that he had been damaged, and he never wanted to see me again… Now, was he really a “nice guy” afterall?

    Maybe the distinction that needs to be drawn is not between “good” and “bad” boys, but between boys and Men. If you signal that you are still a child, you will be treated as one.

  • http://www.allancrossman.com Allan Crossman

    Now, my most recent new lover was by the metrics of this blog, a very “good boy”- Ivy-League physicist mega-nerd with top GREs, love of Star-trek, Magic, D&D, the works… [emphasis mine]

    I must have missed Robin or Eliezer’s post where these were given as the defining virtues of the righteous. :-)

  • Silas

    Please ditch the whole think about “nice guys are really bad because they’re manipulative and have an entitlement complex.” Nice guys are that way because they genuinely don’t know what actually attracts women and are merely acting on the general social message they’re given (that they were — surprise surprise — supposed to ignore). If they knew a better way, they’d use it, but even if they one day decided to adopt the whole “bad boy” persona, they would still throw of subtle signals (of which they are unaware) revealing their cluelessness.

    In contrast, “bad boys” know exactly what they are doing. Morally, “nice guys” are on better ground.

  • Laura ABJ

    Actually, since anyone who’s going to think that I’m a self-obsessed, narcissist bitch already does-
    Does anyone have any questions for us ladies about dating- via Robin Hanson’s “Dating Coaches”? I think having more well-adjusted, less sexually-frustrated, more pro-female rationalists out there would be a good thing for the world.

    Here’s a piece of general advice:

    It’s mind boggling the number of nerdy types who start out intimate pursuits with a description of how their last girl-friend/ unrequited love hurt them badly– I’ve read enough “I’m sorry that you rejected me” letters to know how pathetic they are. Why do men do this? It’s a big red stop sign for sex- this guy is gonna fall in love with you, and write creepy love-poetry, and attempt suicide when you finally tell him, “you’re like a brother,” or “we’re just friends.” No one wants that. No one. It’s bad for all parties involved.

  • Cyan

    Silas, the concept of the Nice Guy(tm) is a useful abstraction that originated and is well known in the feminist blogosphere. The title is ironic — “Entitled Bastard” would be more straightforward, but would fail to convey the exact nature of the entitlement these dudes feel. Nobody is saying that genuinely nice guys are in this category. (I do wonder how Nice Guys(tm) would have been categorized in the study…)

  • http://yudkowsky.net/ Eliezer Yudkowsky

    If bad boys win, where are they all?

    To Wendy’s list I add these hypotheses:

    *) The genes that produce bad-boyness in men are detrimental to survival/mating/parenting in women.

    *) Children growing up without fathers, don’t have many children themselves (until very recently?)

    *) Women attracted to bad boys have less children generally.

    *) Bad boys only started actually having sex on any widespread scale (as opposed to just attracting glances) fairly recently, and perhaps after the invention of contraceptives.

  • Nick Tarleton

    Maybe the distinction that needs to be drawn is not between “good” and “bad” boys, but between boys and Men.

    The other lesson I get from that anecdote is “don’t mistake (arbitrary) stereotypes of virtue/vice for actual goodness/badness.” Good advice in general, really.

    Does anyone have any questions for us ladies about dating- via Robin Hanson’s “Dating Coaches”? I think having more well-adjusted, less sexually-frustrated, more pro-female rationalists out there would be a good thing for the world.

    You might start a thread on the unofficial forum – it’s low-traffic, but probably more convenient for this sort of thing.

    It’s mind boggling the number of nerdy types who start out intimate pursuits with a description of how their last girl-friend/ unrequited love hurt them badly– I’ve read enough “I’m sorry that you rejected me” letters to know how pathetic they are. Why do men do this?

    My first thought is that young nerds overreact to their male peers’ vulgarity by acting overly sensitive (and ISTM nerds are unusually sensitive in the first place) and putting women on a pedestal.

  • Laura ABJ

    Piece of Advice #2: Regarding ‘Entitlement’, Eat Low on the Food Chain

    This is a paraphrasing of a real conversation I had:

    “I think you should consider going on a date with Lindsey- you have a lot in common.”

    “Ick! But she’s fat, pimply, and extremely introverted… I’m just not attracted to her.”

    “She’s 20 pounds overweight- you’re like 50! And your 4 o’clock shadow is riddled with pimples! You’re much shyer than she is- at least she speaks AT ALL. You’re not very attractive either.”

    “But I’m a man. It doesn’t matter…”
    …..

    I repeatedly hear things very similar to this. Just because you think you’re good, smart, nice, interesting, whatever… does not entitle you to the hottest chick at the party. Actually, considering how much less frequently women seem to want sex than men, she doesn’t have to consider you twice if you’ve got nothing to offer. There are a LOT of ‘desperate’- let’s say ‘longing’ women out there… if you’re not quite so picky…

  • http://hanson.gmu.edu Robin Hanson

    There seems to be quite a bit of pent up demand to discuss related topics here, as well as quite a few chips on shoulders, and remarkably little agreement on what is actually happening for such a familiar part of most people’s world. All these clues seem worth pondering more.

  • Laura ABJ

    Yes- I hope I have not offended too many of the bloggers by being blunt or overgeneralizing, but honest communication between the sexes seems quite important. If rationalists cannot accomplish this, who can?

    I don’t think women are all that different than men, but what differences there are seem to be enormous fodder for every type of exaggeration, mischaracterization, and general ugliness. For example, there is no denying that there IS a difference in intelligence distributions between women and men- BUT, though there might be few (none?) nobel-prize winning female physicists, that does not mean that on the level on which this blog operates, there are not a plethora of equally talented, intelligent, and interesting women who might be interested. Also, about the nobel prizes- let us not forget the huge amount of cultural indoctrination that women must challenge to make it in science or ANYTHING really… I think I’m pretty smart–as Eliezer is fond of saying, humility and honesty are not always compatible–yet I have face tremendous discrimination as a scientist, artist, and thinker… How can so many of you keep denying that this is a HUGE problem for the world?…

    Also, it is true that, whether culturally or biologically, women tend to prefer to discuss psychology and people to pure abstraction. Since this is a blog about cognitive biases, I see no reason why there shouldn’t be HUGE female contributions in just this realm. I hope I’ve been informative. I admit myself that if I had focused half of my sexual energy into preventing the singularity, we might very well have friendly AI by now… But, we each specialize in our own interests.

    Sorry to totally dominate this post, but I do believe I have insights in this topic that are actually useful to many of you.

  • Z. M. Davis

    Hanson: “All these clues seem worth pondering more.”

    You’d think so, but sorry to say I doubt anything good will come of it. Doug S. nailed it: gender is the mind-killer.

  • Laura ABJ

    Unfortunate Conflict of Data Said: ["4. Man gives up entirely, and adopts a philosophy where biological needs like sex are to be transcended, like Buddhism or Transhumanism.

    (OK, number 4 is said half-jokingly. But only half. I'm at this stage myself. I used to be a genuinely nice guy, before I became twisted and bitter. Now I'm neither a "nice guy" nor a "bad boy". But anyway, I've given up on the whole damn thing, and am resigned to being lonely forever.)"]

    This strikes me as very sad and very common among smart, introverted men. UCD- I’m guessing that if you’ve ‘given up’, you are probably overweight and unattractive. Have you considered seriously trying to resolve this problem? Or are you still stuck in the mental trap of, “I want her to like me for me!”

  • Laura ABJ

    Interesting reflection- Though I am not physically attracted to the gross majority of women, and tend to prefer men in social situations, I can’t help but find it interesting that of the three transhumanists I have loved (in the squishy, wonderful sense of the word- not sexwise), one was a self declared ‘female,’ and one was a homosexual… One common thing I hear complained about by straight men is that women seem to be very attracted to homosexuals… Maybe gays really do just understand women better, and maybe women actually want that, thought they also want many of the more positive ‘Male” characteristics, especially sexually. Any thoughts on that? This is just guessing on my part.

  • Ian C.

    ‘Maybe the distinction that needs to be drawn is not between “good” and “bad” boys, but between boys and Men. If you signal that you are still a child, you will be treated as one.’

    What are some of the attributes that a Man has that a full grown man you would nevertheless call a boy doesn’t? Can you make a list or do you just “know it when you see it?”

  • Laura ABJ

    Ian- Ah, good question! I probably to a large extent just know it when I see it, but that does not mean it’s well worth exploring… Will need to think on that one. Ladies?

    Also pondering, esp. circa the discussion on rape, to what extent do women chose ‘bad boys’ in the good sense subconsciously (or even consciously) in order to protect themselves from rape by other men? Historically women have been repeatedly blamed if not disowned and cast-out of society for being the victims of rape, and thus being raped for a woman would have a negative correlation with offspring survival. If you follow around the toughest, biggest, baddest man, then odds are anyone who’d even think about raping you is going to get his neck broken- especially in tribal societies where everybody knows everybody else.

    Also of note on this topic, Jung (not that I agree with him on most points) pointed out long ago that fairy tales from the female perspective usually involve some sort of suffering-rescue fantasy in which the beautiful, wilting princess is locked up in some dark tower, but is rescued by a courageous knight in shining armour who must litterally battle monsters to get to her… Rape parallel at all???

    Also, anecdotally again, my husband’s last mistress fell for him after he intervened in a dangerous situation with her neo-nazi stalker… Chivalry is sexy.

  • Laura ABJ

    Ooh! Don’t know if anyone is still reading anything I write, but I just thought of another useful analogy for you guys… well, I mentioned it already, but I can explain it better now. OK- we all know the tail of the alien that predicts our psychology and chooses to either put $1 million in box A and $100 in box B if we will only take box A, but only places $100 in box B if we will take both… This problem was widely debated, to the point Eliezer thought he could write a whole book on the subject.

    Well, it’s kinda like the same thing with women and sex. In box A there is trueloveeternalhappiness. In box B there is eating whatever you want, dressing however you want, showering(or not) whenever you want, playing videogames whenever you want, and engaging in whatever activities suite your wants in spite of them having no hope of securing you an income or basis to raise a family.

    Now- the complaint- “If I found true love, won’t she stay with me/love me in spite of taking box B?”
    YES.

    BUT- she can predict that you WILL take Box B, and therefore prefers to fall for someone who will not. And you B-boxers don’t get it, and try to find tricks for them to think you are A-boxers… but you’re not good enough at it. So you accept Box B. Which you would have eventually taken anyway. Congratulations.

    Moral of the story- Do as Eliezer says, not as he does: You should be in it to win it. Losing righteously is not a victory. Martyring yourselves on the false alter of self-indulgence. Lose the weight, go to the gym, take a shower, buy some nice clothes, and get a decent-paying job…

  • Silas

    Cyan: That’s not responsive. Bad Boys AND Nice Guys ™ feel entitled, it’s just that the former actually know what will get them women, while NGs don’t, and use methods that fail.

  • josh

    Laura,

    Perhaps it is just that you consider weakness a moral failure, be careful that you are not simply rationalizing this prior belief. Beyond your speculation and personal experience from what appears to be a very unusual life, what evidence do we have that men who experience fewer sexual relationships are otherwise morally inferior? Using the sample of men you have dated seems pretty biased. Also, you seem to take for granted understanding the preferences of most if not all women, yet, again, you seem like a very unusual person.

  • Cyan

    Silas, I was just trying to explain why it’s unlikely that anyone will ditch the concept of the Nice Guy(tm) — it’s well established and useful.

  • Laura ABJ

    Josh- this seems like a very reasonable criticism. As far as morality is concerned- I wasn’t saying weakness was a moral failing, just that it was neither good, prefereable, for the men who are weak or the women they would like to date but can’t. I really do believe it would be better for everyone if this situation were amended, because I want to further the rationalist cause, and I think things would go better if more overcoming bias readers got laid, by choicier ladies, more frequently– though I could be wrong- maybe rationalists would all disappear once they got a taste for sexual conquest.

    As far as being an unusual n=1, I use my experiences as illustrations, but I am drawing upon what I know of many women. I could still be horribly biased, and would indeed like the other women here to confirm or deny my musings. I have a slight fear, that like the minority in a 2-party democratic system, this blog makes it impossible for the women to disagree among themselves for fear of being perceived as weak and dissonant. I don’t know to what extent my comments are being rejected or ignored by the other female readers.

    Also- on another note:

    Eliezer- might I use you as a case in point for another illustrative example. I don’t want to garner a reputation for making personal attacks on anyone in particular in this blog, but since we all know you…

  • http://www.allancrossman.com Allan Crossman

    I have a slight fear, that like the minority in a 2-party democratic system, this blog makes it impossible for the women to disagree among themselves for fear of being perceived as weak and dissonant.

    Hmm. That’s certainly a problem that readers of this blog have been warned about. Arguments are not soldiers, and once you decide which side you’re on, you’re not stabbing “your soldiers” in the back when you disagree with something said by someone on your own side…

  • http://zbooks.blogspot.com Zubon

    Laura,
    You intended the analogy in the other direction, but that is a great way of explaining to someone how the Box A-Box B problem works.

  • Bicycle With No Fish

    A male Overcoming Bias reader could reject box B all he wanted and still run into the >>10:1 sex ratio that exists among those of a hyper-rationalist disposition; just opting out of the whole thing seems to me like a perfectly reasonable solution.

  • Laura ABJ

    Bi- are you so picky as to only except a woman with a “hyper-rationalist disposition” as a mate? And as we’ve already discussed in ‘is Overcoming Bias male,’ there are many aspects of this blog that might repel women regardless of their rationality. I think the width I’ve opened my mouth might be considered somewhat psychopathic and irrational by many…

    Back to Ian’s question- What is a man… I’ll know one when I see one…

    LEONIDAS! (disclaimer- not speaking for all women)

    Yes! I just watched the movie 300, and was surprised by how good it was in spite of awful reviews… I think a lot of male reviewers were probably jealous for oh-so-many reasons of those 300 glorious MEN. I would not be at all surprised to find out that the screenwriter was secretly a woman, posing as a man to get recognition… Also, the movie might have been scoffed at by NY times intellectuals for its utter lack of subtlety, though I feel subtlety and obscurity are far too overrated by many intellectuals as a way of setting themselves apart from the normals. And sometimes things should NOT be subtle. Sometimes they need to be screamed from the roof-top by blood-beaked harpees… cool.

    Anyway, the sad thing is that while Leonidas is clearly at least one male ideal to some subset of the female population, I’m not sure if his queen would get the same credit. My favorite scene in that movie is when the queen stabs her rapist in the junk and twists his own words back at him, “This will NOT be over quickly. You will NOT enjoy this. I am NOT YOUR QUEEN,” ripping open his sack of persian blood money… So much a better female protagonist than Queen Amydala- and yet I think NatPort gets more of the fellas…

    So yeah. Totally loved it. Leonidas. Good stuff.

  • http://shagbark.livejournal.com Phil Goetz

    How disappointing, that after over 100 comments, we have had mostly arguments over whether the phenomenon even exists.

    I will do my part to increase the signal-to-noise ratio by ignoring all posts that claim that “nice guys” are dishonest, poor lovers, fat and poorly-groomed, stay in too much, etc.

    But we do need to define our terms.

    When I was in college, a number of good-looking women came onto me in blatant ways, including crawling into bed with me, literally dragging me home from a party, challenging me to prove that I wasn’t too drunk to have sex, and having a “wardrobe malfunction” and asking me to fix it. I never hooked up with any of them because I didn’t know how. There are so many social taboos about sex, that every possible step forward seemed to me like doing something wrong. But the woman will, in my experience, seldom initiate anything beyond first contact, and the man always has to be the one to push past that boundary where you realize you are going to have sex and start taking clothes off. If the man doesn’t know how to do it, it won’t happen.

    This is part of the “nice-guy” phenomenon – a guy who doesn’t know how to switch from normal social interaction to sexual interaction. It’s tricky. It’s hard for men to figure out whether a woman wants them to come on to her or not, and the costs of getting it wrong can be very high. Studies consistently indicate that men are unaware of signals that women think are obvious.

    But I think there’s more to it than that.

    I lifted weights very seriously for a few years. I was very successful with women during those years. It seems clear this was because of being muscular, yet I’ve never encountered a woman, either one I dated or one I talked to, who would admit that she was attracted by muscular men. Talking with other bodybuilders, I heard the same story – women would deny being attracted to muscular men, but muscular men had great success with women. This is one datapoint indicating that women do not admit or even know what attracts them. My theory is that what kind of man attracts them is an important part of their self-image.

    Women – or, at least, moderately good-looking women, which is really the ones we’re talking about – have a much, much, much easier time getting dates+sex than men. They can still get dates even if they maintain a completely false narrative about who they are & what they’re attracted to. This means that, if a man and a woman have an equal preference for a particular self-image, the cost to the man of keeping his preferred self-image rather than doing honest after-action reviews, is much higher than the cost to the woman. So the woman is much likelier to hold onto whatever notions about herself, women, men, and interactions between them, most please her, because discarding those notions for more truthful ones wouldn’t get her many more dates.

    Women do more detailed speculations about what every action of some guy “means”, and I don’t know how to resolve the above theory with this observation, other than to say that men are motivated to be honest with themselves about how to attract a woman, while women are motivated to be honest with themselves about how to keep a man.

  • Laura ABJ

    Since I don’t actually know the answer to this question- what easily recognizable figure from art would you- fellas or ladies- extol as one of your ideals of the opposite sex?

  • Laura ABJ

    Goetz- interesting observations. I think the confusion is with what women think is meant by “muscular guy.” If you mean a fit person- I don’t know any woman who would say she didn’t like athletic, sculpted bodies. These are NICE. Leonidas. However, the quantity of muscle is another story- many women do prefer thinner, leaner bodies to bulkier ones- and this is just individual preference, like whether a man prefers large or small boobs. But the word “muscle man” often connotates a simple brute- all brawn and no brain, and you’re right- even women who don’t give a damn about brains aren’t going to want to admit that they want *that*.

    Also- I can’t understand how (given the description you provide) you couldn’t seal the deal… No means no, but there are many stages in between in which the woman can opt out without needing to accuse you of rape. It would be too embarrassing for me to explain to you how to make out with a woman here… If you can’t figure it out, well… You need some instruction. Even that mega-nerd physicist had the balls to put his hand on my inside thigh…

  • Andy Wood

    Laura ABJ, I have followed your recent comments, and mostly agreed with most of them. However, there is one recurring theme that I feel compelled to object to, at least weakly. It is the implication that there should be some pronounced unattractive trait to explain why a male would not be sexually successful. (E.g. overweight, ugly, poor, etc.)

    To illustrate a point, I’ll describe a person who we’ll call “John”. This is a real person, and I know him and his circumstances well. Women agree that John is handsome – some say very. He is a little above average height, but not by much (6′). He works out twice a week, hikes, and is generally physically active and in good shape – moderately muscular, but not bulky or very “cut”. Weight about 150-160lbs., so on the slender side. John is of above average intelligence, tested IQ ~150, informed on a wide range of topics, but not super-genius by any means. He has a professional career, moderate-to-high status job, income in the low six figures. He is 30, never married, no kids. He is musically talented – a multi-instrumentalist and composer. He is comfortable in social settings, has friends and interesting hobbies, is a great listener, and is generally well liked, but has few very close friends. Morally, he is honest, fair, and shows an interest in the interests of others as well as his own. He is neither dominant, nor submissive. He is neither easy to intimidate, nor does he seek to intimidate others, not even “in jest”.

    Lower-status women are sometimes strongly attracted to him. These women are typically either mildly overweight, or otherwise “not ideally shaped.” Some have had pretty faces, some have not. All have been of average intelligence, and lesser professional and income level. Your post about Eating Lower on the Food chain really resonated here. John has been successful in that regard, but NOT with women HE is attracted to. Your comments have prompted me to reflect on why that is.

    Here’s what I have been able to come up with so far. 1) John does not have a commanding physical presence. Perhaps if he was 6’2″ and very muscular, he would have better prospects. 2) John is not dominant. Perhaps women are attracted to men who are willing or able to dominate or intimidate others. John isn’t the type to boss or throw his weight around. 3) He does not seek to dominate conversations, either. 4) John does not invest in status symbols (fancy cars/clothing), although he can afford to.

    And on John’s end of the bargain: 5) He does not typically pursue women unless they are very intelligent and/or talented, so his pool is much more limited than it would be if he were only looking for a nice, pretty girl to start a family with.

    I think my point is that the “cost” of an intelligent and attractive woman, in terms of what the man must offer, is very high. Higher than being in shape and having a good job. (I’m not in any way suggesting that this is a “problem” in need of a “solution”, btw.)

  • http://shagbark.livejournal.com Phil Goetz

    Laura – It’s hard for me to understand, too. But don’t worry; I’ve learned much since then. If I knew then what I know now… I might never have graduated.

    Another datapoint: Harlan Ellison. Harlan is famous as being probably the only writer in SF who brings hot babes to, and picks hot babes up at, science fiction conventions. He’s also famous as being the biggest asshole in the history of SF. Friends say that he’s very loyal, and he has enough friends to suggest he’s not a pure asshole; but he’s very quick to loudly and arrogantly reject and insult strangers.

    (Isaac Asimov, by contrast, was famous for being funny, witty, charming, friendly, and flirtatious, but not sexy.)

    I wonder if a crucial part of why jerks succeed with women is rejection of others. This is something Tucker Max does too; he picks out a visible spot at a party and loudly insults the people who walk past. If you reject a lot of people, and accept a woman, it indicates high value for both yourself and her.

  • http://shagbark.livejournal.com Phil Goetz

    Another datapoint: The only person I’ve known well, who I think is a psychopath, was successful with women. He was also successful with men (socially, that is). He was a lot of fun to be around. He was not dominant; he was very laid-back and relaxed. He would often sit back and look bored, and seem to be as interested in the furniture as in the people in the room with him. (This was the first odd thing I noticed about him: while gazing about the room, he could slide his eyes over and past a person without stopping briefly to fixate on their face – something most people never do.) This is a causal link from psychopathy to attractiveness: The psychopath doesn’t care about other people, and so is seldom nervous in social situations.

    (He was also handsome, athletic, smart, in his 20s, made almost $100K/yr, and had a deep voice that I’ve heard women describe as very sexy.)

    He wasn’t a jerk in any way, unless you count a quiet indifference to other people’s feelings. He had a friend who was a jerk, but clearly not a psychopath, who was witty, charming, and very successful with women. So I think that the “psychopath” and “jerk” categories are separate, and succeed for different reasons.

  • Laura ABJ

    Andy- I never said I had the powers of perfect match-making for trueloveeternalhappiness of all people in the world. Sounds like Andy could be very successful sexually if he wanted. As for finding the perfect intelligent, talented woman….. Well, that’s a tall ‘expensive’ order indeed.

  • Silas

    Cyan: I didn’t suggest ditching the concept of Nice Guy, just the specific claim that their choice of behaviors stems from a desire to manipulate, rather than just not knowing a better way to get women. (Both types are manipulative, in other words, one is just better.)

    Now go for something responsive this time.

  • Cyan

    Silas, my reply was responsive to the “entitlement complex” part of your complaint. On “manipulative”, maybe the class of men you are talking about is not the one referred to by the Nice Guy(tm) label, but there does exist a group of men who act *extra* nice towards the objects of their desires with strings-attached, quid pro quo expectations about gaining the affection of said objects. That counts as attempted manipulation in my books; YMMV.

  • Wendy Collings

    Laura ABJ – You mention a fear that “this blog makes it impossible for the women to disagree among themselves for fear of being perceived as weak and dissonant” – it’s actually never occurred to me to edit my comments so as to take sides that way. It’s probably wiser to assume that we all say just what we want to.

    And rather than rejecting or ignoring your comments (and others’), I’m just aware (as Robin so politley pointed out) that this thread is heading off topic.

    I’ll try going back to the list of possible responses in Robin’s original post.

    First: The result is wrong versus The result is correct. I think the best we’ve come up with is “not proved”.

    Second (assuming the result is possibly correct): This is good versus This is bad. I propose “irrelevant”, since it’s assuming that we would get more of such men and there’s no evidence for that.

    Robin’s final question: “Do we want more of the kinds of women who win when competing to attract men?” Again, I’m not sure it’s relevant. Most women get the chance to pass on their genes, and it doesn’t appear that the most sexually attractive are winners in that context.

  • Silas

    Cyan, maybe I’m not typing slowly enough: Bad Boys are also, by that definition, manipulative. They’re just better at it. I know exactly the class of men the Nice Guy (tm tm tm) term refers to, and I was using the term correctly. The explanation of their psychology is just wrong. Why would Nice Guys ™ do this ineffective stuff, that keeps not working, if they know of something better? It just doesn’t make sense.

    And I understand what you’re trying to say too; you’re also wrong. Bad Boys also have expectations; they’re just better at doing the kinds of things that get their expectations satisfied.

    Long story short, the attempt to differentiate Bad Boys from Nice Guys on the grounds of one set having a better moral character (manipulativeness, entitlement complex, etc.) is fundamentally flawed. It relies on the extremely dubious assumption of one class of men knowingly doing something that will result in failure.

  • Nick Tarleton
  • Cyan

    Silas, please save your insults for someone who actually deserves them. I haven’t said anything about Bad Boys, nor have I expressed an opinion as to the relative moral statuses of Nice Guys and Bad Boys. Everything I have written is in reply to your request, ‘Please ditch the whole think [sic] about “nice guys are really bad because they’re manipulative and have an entitlement complex.’

    It relies on the extremely dubious assumption of one class of men knowingly doing something that will result in failure.

    Not exactly. There’s a process here: they try the Nice Guy approach until they figure out that it doesn’t work. Then they go on the internet declaiming, “I guess nice guys really do finish last”; hence the name.

  • http://shagbark.livejournal.com Phil Goetz

    Once I had a first date with a woman in Baltimore whom I’d been corresponding with by email. She became more withdrawn as the evening went on. I was irritated – I’d come a long way to spend the evening with her, and took her out to an expensive restaurant, and was very nice to her, and she wasn’t even being friendly.

    When I stopped to drop her off, I was by that time really angry at her. I said to myself, “I am never going to see or even talk to this woman again, so I don’t care what she thinks.” So I leaned over, totally without warning, and kissed her on the mouth. Not a nice peck or smack; a long one, with suction.

    She sat up like she’s just gotten an electric shock, and she wrapped both arms around me and started kissing me passionately. Something about the way I’d kissed her – which, from my end, was with a combination of anger, disrespect, and uncaring use in the worst sense – turned her on, instantly and intensely, when a half a second before she’d been bored with me.

    Women, please explain that.

  • Z. M. Davis

    “I was by that time really angry at her. I said to myself, ‘I am never going to see or even talk to this woman again, so I don’t care what she thinks.'”

    Goetz, are you aware that this is exactly the sort of psychology that leads to rape?

    In this one particular case, you got lucky. You mildly assaulted someone, and it turned out that she enjoyed it. You have no justification to think that the result generalizes, and women collectively are under no burden to explain the incident to you.

    That is, assuming that this story actually happened the way you say it did. You must understand that someone who thinks that “lik[ing] ugly chicks [...] would seem to be the equivalent of liking abusive men” is exactly the sort of person that a third-party observer would expect to have a biased recollection concerning such matters.

  • http://ionotter.livejournal.com IonOtter

    Strange game.

    The only winning move is not to play?

    How about a nice night of gay sex?

  • http://shagbark.livejournal.com Phil Goetz

    Goetz, are you aware that this is exactly the sort of psychology that leads to rape?

    No, I am not. Lots of people in this thread claim to know what causes rape. None of them agree. But I’m pretty sure a rapist doesn’t say, “What the hell, I’m not going to talk to this girl again – I’ll just rape her.”

    You have no justification to think that the result generalizes, and women collectively are under no burden to explain the incident to you.

    We are discussing a topic. The way we do this is, we introduce evidence, including personal experience. People who choose to discuss the topic with us then respond to this evidence.

    What did you think we were doing here?

    You must understand that someone who thinks that “lik[ing] ugly chicks [...] would seem to be the equivalent of liking abusive men”

    As the context, which you conveniently omit, makes clear, if women judge men on character, and men judge women on beauty; then if a woman prefers men who score low on character, that is analagous to a man who prefers women who score low on beauty. Preferring jerks is an anomaly that needs to be explained. Preferring beautiful women is not.

  • michael vassar

    Z.M. Davis:
    You know, what you just did was, judged by someone who sees this as a forum for truth seeking, REALLY CREEPY. My first impulse is to say that you should be permanently banned for trying to tamper with evidence at the scene of scientific inquiry through moral intimidation aimed at making people reluctant to volunteer or even think about and learn from surprising information. My second thought on the matter is that you just don’t know better and have not done anything similar before, but just to be clear, that is the only post in the history of this blog for which I would even suggest a ban based on a single post on the grounds that the penalty for censorship must be censorship if we are to maintain an open exchange.

  • Cyan

    Phil Goetz, my not-entirely-serious application of Occam’s razor suggests that she had been waiting all night for you to kiss her — this explains both the boredom and the ardent response. (Details of the date which you haven’t related probably rule out this explanation.)

    On the “Women, please explain that” front, there’s only one woman who could possibly do that. I’m genuinely curious as to her perspective… are you still in contact with her?

  • http://shagbark.livejournal.com Phil Goetz

    Cyan – I looked, but didn’t find her contact info. Can’t remember her name now.

    It’s possible that she’d been waiting for me to kiss her. If so, that suggests one theory: that women generally want sex more than men think they do, and that jerks win because they do what they want to do, which also happens to be what the woman really wants to do but, for some reason, gives no indication of it.

    But this would only explain why a jerk would be better at “closing the deal” with a woman once he had gotten her on a date. The “jerks win” phenomenon also involves women chasing after men who broadcast their identity as jerks.

  • Joseph Knecht

    Laura ABJ: historical figures from art or otherwise that I would hold up as ideals of the opposite sex: Hypatia, and Ada Lovelace.

  • Z. M. Davis

    “The way we do this is, we introduce evidence, including personal experience. People who choose to discuss the topic with us then respond to this evidence.”

    On this point, you’re right. The sentence beginning with “You have no justification” in my previous comment was wrong, and I should not have written it.

    I’m busy right now, but a full response to you and Vassar is forthcoming.

  • http://yudkowsky.net/ Eliezer Yudkowsky

    Laura: Since I don’t actually know the answer to this question- what easily recognizable figure from art would you- fellas or ladies- extol as one of your ideals of the opposite sex?

    Depends which ideal they’re supposed to symbolize. Phèdre nó Delaunay and Cordelia Naismith wouldn’t work as the same person.

  • Wendy Collings

    Phil Goetz – “Women, please explain that.”

    Easily. From your description, you kissed the woman passionately, and she responded to what was apparently passion and desire for her. Your kiss did NOT have subtitles describing your anger, disrespect, and uncaring use. Kisses aren’t like that.

    She liked you well enough to go out with you in the first place. I can’t make guesses about why she seemed withdrawn or unfriendly; but if you didn’t ask her why, you might be wrong to assume she’d lost interest in you. My guess is that she still liked you, and was surprised and pleased that you (apparently) still found her desirable.

    Question: if your evening had gone well, would you have kissed her just as suddenly and passionately? I hope your answer is yes, because if not, your responses are simply back-to-front and likely to lead to frustrating complications.

  • Roland

    I offer an alternative explanation(to be honest I haven’t followed the whole discussion so I don’t know if this has already been proposed):

    All men are “bad boys” more or less, and being more of a “bad boy” is the result of more dominance.

    If a man is low in the social hierarchy he usually will have more of a victim mentality, have less women and have the tendency to be a “good guy”.

    If a man is higher in the hierarchy he starts to change his mentality and becomes a “bad boy”. He also will be more attractive to women, but not because he is a “bad boy” but because he is high in the hierarchy.

    I remember seeing an animal video many years ago. A group of monkeys was attacked by a fake lion for research purposes. All the monkeys banded together to defend the community, all except one: the alpha male who climbed high upon a tree, thinking only of himself.

    So was the alpha male a self-centered psychopath or did he become that as a consequence of being the alpha-male? What is cause and effect?

  • Roland

    And,

    of course all this labeling as psychopath is just another moral judgement. Are the so called “good boys” really that much better? How many of those will help a needy person?

  • Nick Tarleton

    Are the so called “good boys” really that much better? How many of those will help a needy person?

    Coincidentally, I just read this, from The Problem of the Soul, p.156: “The best predictor of whether you will resist Nazi atrocities, to pick an example that has been well studied, is not the degree or depth of your commitment to [some universal ethical principle]. It is whether you score high on an adventurousness, risk-taking scale, and whether you have a sense of being socially marginal…. You might think that if you yourself were the object of horrible social discrimination, you should look for help among people who were picked on in middle school, and who favor riding motorcycles without helmets, over those who have read the Bible, Aristotle, Kant, or Mill. You would not be wrong in thinking this.”

    Like I said above, the stereotypes of virtue/vice that make someone a “good/bad boy” in common usage don’t necessarily have anything to do with a rationalist’s idea of goodness or badness.

    Oh, and great point about causation.

  • Roland

    Phil Goetz:

    I will comment your post using what I learned in the pick up community, I would suggest you also follow the links I posted in the the opposite sex thread.

    She became more withdrawn as the evening went on.

    What did you talk about? Do you know how to be interesting, how to have a not boring conversation with a woman? Hint: most women don’t like logical conversations about scientific topics.

    I was irritated – I’d come a long way to spend the evening with her, and took her out to an expensive restaurant, and was very nice to her, and she wasn’t even being friendly.

    When I stopped to drop her off, I was by that time really angry at her.

    You invested time, money and emotional energy into her and expected to get something back for it. In essence you were bribing her and became angry when she didn’t play along. Big mistake. Never invest much into a woman in a first date(There are exceptions). In fact the ideal is to only invest in a woman after she has become your girlfriend. If a woman perceives that you are investing a lot it often will have a negative effect, making it look like you are desperate for her or you are a creepy guy. For a first date the ideal is to invite her to any event you are going to anyways with your friends or alone. It takes away a lot of the social pressure that “something has to happen”. In the worst case you still will have the fun from going to an event you planned to go anyway. Simple, isn’t it?

    I said to myself, “I am never going to see or even talk to this woman again, so I don’t care what she thinks.” So I leaned over, totally without warning, and kissed her on the mouth. Not a nice peck or smack; a long one, with suction.

    Congratulations for taking a decisive step, although I don’t agree with the emotions you felt within! I guess most men would not have dared to do that.

    She sat up like she’s just gotten an electric shock, and she wrapped both arms around me and started kissing me passionately. Something about the way I’d kissed her – which, from my end, was with a combination of anger, disrespect, and uncaring use in the worst sense – turned her on, instantly and intensely, when a half a second before she’d been bored with me.

    My take on this is: of course there is no way that she could know the anger and disrespect you felt inside. But the fact that you had the balls to do such a step may have sparked her attraction. Also it may have been a welcome distraction from an otherwise boring evening. Women respond to touching, hugging and physical contact. Maybe she also felt guilty about having made you go through all those efforts without giving anything back and thought that it is just the socially accepted convention that after such a date a woman is supposed to be kissed.

    Another explanation is that she didn’t have the courage to aggressively resist and went along with it, knowing that she would be home shortly after and not have to see you anymore.

    Btw, I’m supposing that you didn’t see her afterwards, did you try to contact her again? Was she responsive? If you didn’t contact her, why not?

  • Laura ABJ

    Goetz-
    Since M. Vassar tells me that you are *actually* a nice person in person, I will not discount everything you say as the rantings of a foolishbittermisogynisticnerd, but I will instead inform you that Davis’s reaction was also mine- though I might not have typed it out on this forum, and presenting an incident where you, in your mind, *intended* to inflict gross disrespect upon a woman merely for seeming bored with you (note she could have been distracted with her own problems), does not win you any sympathies among any female audience– but rather places you in the ‘entitled bastard’ category in the minds of most readers. If you want to present the perverse desires of your soul as bayesian evidence, don’t be surprised if some people will realize they don’t like you. I appreciate the honesty- it is a risk.

  • Roland

    Phil:

    She sat up like she’s just gotten an electric shock, and she wrapped both arms around me and started kissing me passionately.

    Of course never forget that there was no time for her to make a real decision. You took her by surprise, the “electric shock” is probably the adrenalin release she felt. Her adrenalized and time constrained brain just responded with the default reaction and since you were no stranger in the night she went along with it. What she felt inwards or afterwards is another question.

  • http://dl4.jottit.com/contact Richard Hollerith

    If what Goetz did happened 20 years ago or if Goetz was over 40 or 45 when it happened then his peer group might not have subscribed to the standard that you should not force a kiss on a person. The way I understand the standard that exists among people under 40 or 45 or so, you either ask for permission to kiss her or you move your lips to a couple of inches from her lips, then hold, which makes your intentions obvious, but lets her decide whether the kiss happens.

    At any rate, Davis has had a hard-on (pun intended) for Goetz the whole comment thread, and I agree with Vassar that there should not be moral intimidation of a commentator for admitting to a minor violation in the course of presenting evidence that bears directly on the topic at hand or (to use Vassar’s apt phrase) truth seeking.

    (But is it not true, Vassar, that if you were to react with the same vehemence every time you observed someone attempt moral intimidation of someone else for not being sufficiently respectful of women or another “protected minority” then you would quickly wear yourself out?)

    I hope Laura ABJ continues to comment on this blog. I thank her for her lively comments in this thread, particularly,

    I want to further the rationalist cause, and I think things would go better if more overcoming bias readers got laid, by choicier ladies, more frequently.

    I think the same thing — of OB readers in general and myself in particular. I do not know how much she can help without meeting me in person (and I live in California and never travel to New York) but if she is willing to try, I would like to receive an email from her.

  • Laura ABJ

    Oh- Someone asked why don’t women just post an add ‘promiscuous woman seeking promiscuous man.’ I can tell you exactly why- I tried doing basically just that (though I specified I was interested in good conversation, fun, and no-strings atatched sex, and the man had to be attractive and intelligent) and I got so swamped with lewd, disgusting, graphic, and disturbing responses, that I had to take the add down immediately. The most troublesome just read ‘I know who you are,’ from someone I have NO idea who he was… I don’t think there was one person I would have considered meeting up with in the whole lot of them… So yeah fellahs- there does need to be a game… A SAFETY DANCE!

  • michael vassar

    Err.. Nick: Won’t serious adherence to any universalist ethical principle (Aristotle’s principles are NOT universalist by the way) get you picked on in middle school for sure, not to mention forcing you to take risks and engage in… well… not adventures, but quests? I’m pretty sure that the bible doesn’t count as a theory at all, but terribly few people explicitly even claim to model their behaviors on philosophical theories of ethics, even those of Aristotle, Kant, or Mill. I’m going to ignore Kant for its blatant failure to constitute a theory and then defy the data simply on the non-credibility of enough explicit Mill Utilitarians or Aristotelian golden mean of virtue adherents to create good studies or sample sets. Of course, if such people can’t be found that is yet another reason to look for the motorcyclists instead.

    Richard: Of course I wouldn’t impose such standards anywhere else. This blog is on sacred ground. Standards are higher here. My guess is that hitting on the female posters is also in bad form, but I could be wrong in that regard.

  • Laura ABJ

    Richard, et al-
    I was not trying to turn this blog into a personal mating ground… If any of you want to ask me something personal, take it to my ‘junk’ email address:
    Cingulate2000@gmail.com
    where my pseudonym is Lara Foster.

  • http://dl4.jottit.com/contact Richard Hollerith

    My guess is that hitting on the female posters is . . . in bad form.

    I agree and do not mind that you point it out, Michael. (I hit on Sister Y about a month ago here.) My excuse is that because of chronic illness and attempts to ameliorate chronic illness, my brain occasionally “produces too much dopamine” (vast oversimplification, tentative hypothesis) which causes impulsivity and impairs social judgement.

    I too find the conversation here vastly more worthwhile than most conversations and consequently worth defending.

  • http://yudkowsky.net/ Eliezer Yudkowsky

    Richard? Don’t do it again.

  • Nick Tarleton

    (I might as well take this thread further off track.)

    Michael: Your first sentence is obviously right, but how about people who get into moral philosophy later in life? The quote says “…those that have read…”, but also “the degree or depth of your commitment“, so it’s not clear just what it is that’s not a predictor. Google turns up other references, none of which unfortunately seem to say which factors were not good predictors; nor can I find anything on personality and the Milgram experiment. Anyway, this doesn’t have much to do with the point about stereotypes of virtue and good/bad boys.

  • mjgeddes

    Phil,

    I’m a bit surprised at your puzzlement. If you read the materials from the pick-up community the mating game seems very simple:

    Men go ga-ga over good looks, woman go ga-ga over high status. Seems pretty basic and simple. That really is all there is to it. Really. That’s why woman spend so much of their time trying to look good and men spend so much of their time trying to create the outward appearance of high-status. These actitivites are simply what the opposite sex responds to, and are what signal reproductive fitness.

    Disclaimer: I’m not being cynical here at all, I’m merely stating a completely amoral bald fact.

    I don’t really find it that interesting. I just have to note that humans seem to invest massive amounts of their time and energy playing these mating games, and I have to wonder what could be achieved if even a small fraction of all that time and energy was diverted into other pursuits.

    This ‘relationship’ business must surely drain away massive amounts of time and energy that would be better spent on learning LISP or Ruby (for programming the AGI). I know for a fact that having someone else in my face all day would just drive me completely insane. It ain’t worth it. The chicks are slowing you guys down too much ;)

  • Z. M. Davis

    I think I’ve, um, been kind of emotionally floored for much of the last fifteen hours. (It turns out that talk of banning has an intimidating effect of its own.) I hereby retract, and apologize for, my comment of June 28 at 01:55 AM. I would also humbly suggest a killthread, as this conversation may have outlived its usefulness. I am,

    Yours in truthseeking,
    Z. M. Davis

  • michael vassar

    Z.M. Davis: I hope that you feel well. For my part, apology accepted. Thank you for caring. Killthread seconded. I will post a follow-up given the level of interest.

  • http://brokensymmetry.typepad.com Michael F. Martin

    @Ben Hyink

    Thanks for the pointer to the research. I’m not surprised to see that there is a neurological explanation for the relationship between autism and psychopathology — i.e., that the ratio of white matter to gray is higher than average in psychopaths and lower than average in aspies. It seems that the white matter performs a multiplexing function for the gray matter’s processing of information. It’s interesting that white matter continues to develop into middle age whereas gray matter does not. Perhaps we have here a neurological explanation for the increase of wisdom with age? (If “wisdom” is defined as ability to understand a comprehend a wider perspective of human activity.)

    From twin studies of autism, it seems that such brain physiology is not entirely genetic. Perhaps there is a point in early development when some bifurcation occurs, causing white matter either to develop too fast or too slow?

    As an aside, I am a person who is unusually blunt, and easily flustered in large groups. I can’t help wondering if that has to do with a white matter deficiency. I’ve not been diagnosed with Asperger’s, however.

    Interstingly, Silicon Valley seems to have a higher rate of Aperger’s than the rest of the world. There is always the possibility that this is a fluctuation, but I imagine that some of this could have to do with the fact that white matter tends to develop more slowly when it isn’t regularly stimulated. In effect, all of the highly educated scientists and engineers who have spent their lives in laboratories have stunted the growth of their white matter. That doesn’t make them Asperger’s, but if you throw in how mirror neurons contribute to learning, then it might explain why so many of their children are Asperger’s — it’s because they’re not mirroring a full spectrum of affect to their children. The problem is probably exacerbated by a general lack of time and attention to the children, which is caused by the intense work environment of startups and highly competitive technology companies.

  • http://brokensymmetry.typepad.com Michael F. Martin

    Actually, if precipitated amyloid plaques were randomly blocking white matter pathways, that could explain why only certain gray matter degenerates over time for Alzheimer’s patients, and why some physical therapy, &c. is useful — it helps generate new white matter networks to the same old gray matter. If that’s right, then Alzheimer’s patients should be increasing blunt as the disease progresses.

  • http://fumibankole.blogspot.com/2008/10/bad-boys.html Fumi Bankole

    Attraction to “bad boys” must be a hold over from when the talent for charisma buoyed manipulation and street smart fearlessness were a successful survival strategy – hey, like now.

    Fumi Bankole, author of Canaan’s Labyrinth