Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) was Manhattan's smoothest and most legend -- wait for it! -- ary player on "How I Met Your Mother." He always had a girl on his arm despite his d-bag plays, and now science can explain why.
According to a new British study that examined female attraction to narcissistic males, the long-standing social belief that women love bad boys and a-holes has some truth to it.
Hartbury College researchers Carrie Haslam and V. Tamara Montrose wanted to figure out exactly why women pursue the Barney Stinsons of the world when, as they wrote in their paper, "Narcissistic males do not make good romantic partners." So why do some women find them attractive?
The team examined heterosexual British females between the ages of 18 to 28 for their study, which will be published in the August issue of Personality and Individual Differences. Participants were surveyed about their ideal partner's traits as well as their attitudes towards marriage and commitment.
Interestingly, women with a higher number of romantic partners were significantly more attracted to narcissistic males compared to those with a lower number. This means their increased attraction can't be chalked up to rookie mistakes or the excitement of first love. The research indicates that women with greater "mating experience" find jerks more desirable and continue to find them more desirable, even after the relationship goes sour.
A surprising conundrum also emerged from the findings. Women who expressed an interest in marriage were more attracted to narcissistic males than women who were not interested in marriage. The authors say this is problematic because "the narcissistic male is primarily short-term mating goal oriented." This means the jerk is great during the first few stages of a relationship and effectively hides the fact that he's terrible boyfriend material.
The researchers concluded women are drawn in by jerks because "the narcissistic personality, whilst having many negative qualities, possesses qualities associated with status and resource provision" -- aka stuff like confidence and the ability to display authority. There's that pesky evolution butting into our dating lives again.
Oh, and if a woman is ovulating, the effect might even be enhanced. A 2012 study revealed hormones released during ovulation almost have a beer goggle effect when it comes to evaluating a mate's potential skills as a father.
The solution, it seems, is for all of us to be jerks to each other all the time. Luckily, that's a lot easier now with Tinder.