This Study About Bullying Might Help Politicians Find Some Chill In Debates


After tuning in to last night’s first GOP Presidential debate, it seems like bullies are always winning. While it totally dashes all our '80s movie revenge fantasies to see the loudest and scariest walk away with a victory, a new study out of Canada says it’s, sadly, kind of natural.

Following the Evolutionary Psychology Theory (EPT) that says that certain behaviors have evolved with us for species survival, researchers found that to preserve the physical, sexual and mental health — a lot of our ancestors must’ve developed those aggressive, domineering and, okay, straight-up mean traits.

The study looked closer at the advantages bullies have — from their don't-mess-with-me reputations, their confidence levels and their sex lives — and found that the bullies often “come out on top.” They end up confident, successful and have a lot of sex.

But, just because the blustering, ill-tempered attitudes persist well into adulthood (and our election cycle) does not mean there’s nothing we can do about bullying.

Sure, back when our species was still in its awkward teen phase it made a lot more sense to be a bully or support a bully (bullies meant not dying which is a nice thing.) But, now that we’re not foraging for berries and fighting wild boars on the reg and are instead trying to have some civil conversations about public policy? Not so much.

The researchers say that there’s one real overhaul we need to make in how we treat bullies, from grade school and beyond: We need to not reward that behavior in school environments.

“I’m absolutely not suggesting that we accept bullying as a natural thing,” Lead Researcher Jennifer Wong told The Washington Post. “We need to change the general school ethos so that bullies don’t gain any social status points from hurting others.”

Since the social status of being bigger, stronger and scarier isn't totally necessary, working harder to make it clear that bullying is not cool is a priority. If we could make it that we aren't giving all this social capital — attention. praise, etc. —- to people who bully, we'd have a better chance of keeping those behaviors off the playground and eventually out of our election cycle.

And, maybe, if we start now, the next debate will have significantly less chest-puffing and shady digs at the moderators and more focus on the issues we actually care about.

Because, let's be real: The only bullies we have time for are bulldogs.