Why Narcissists Have More Sex

| September 18, 2014 | 0 Comments | Email This Post Email This Post

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If narcissism is one of humanity’s more stubbornly intractable traits—and it is—it’s partly because it facilitates the one basic act likelier than anything else to keep a particular physical or behavioral characteristic alive in the gene pool: breeding. Successful narcissists have a whole lot of sex, which means they’re statistically likelier to have a whole lot of babies—at least compared to everyone else. This highly adaptive component of narcissism gives it a big edge over other disorders in getting passed down to the next generation.

“When you’re talking about truly pathological narcissism, it’s hard to say why it hasn’t been eradicated from the gene pool,” says Jessica Tracy, a professor of personality and social psychology at the University of British Columbia. “But when you’re talking about the more everyday kind, it’s equally hard to see how it ever would disappear since it’s so adaptive. All you have to do is replicate yourself, and narcissists are very good at doing that.”

Male narcissists would seem to have a big advantage here, and they do. For men, breeding is biologically cheap and easy, something they could—at least when they’re young enough—do multiple times a day. Women, even if they wanted to, could never remotely keep up with that kind of fecundity. But heterosexual narcissistic males are still trying to bed women, and no matter the men’s seductiveness, women remain the more discriminating gender and will still be more selective than men about whom they bed. Even the truly narcissistic male will strike out more than he succeeds. Narcissistic women, on the other hand, have a much easier go of things simply because so many men seem almost incapable of saying no.

Psychology and human behavior students are taught early on about the famous 1978 study conducted on the Florida State University campus in which volunteer male and female subjects approached other students of the opposite sex and recited a carefully scripted proposition: “I have been noticing you around campus and I find you to be very attractive,” they said. “Would you go to bed with me tonight?”

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