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There’s a growing consensus in the social sciences that women swoon uncontrollably for men who possess the suite of psychological traits known colloquially as the Dark Triad. But now a new study has come out which throws an additional psychological trait into the mix of (mostly) male pathologies that cause women to cream their pretty pantaloons:
Behavioral confirmation of everyday sadism.
Past research on socially aversive personalities has focused on subclinical psychopathy, subclinical narcissism, and Machiavellianism-the “Dark Triad” of personality. In the research reported here, we evaluated whether an everyday form of sadism should be added to that list. Acts of apparent cruelty were captured using two laboratory procedures, and we showed that such behavior could be predicted with two measures of sadistic personality. Study 1 featured a bug-killing paradigm. As expected, sadists volunteered to kill bugs at greater rates than did nonsadists. Study 2 examined willingness to harm an innocent victim. When aggression was easy, sadism and Dark Triad measures predicted unprovoked aggression. However, only sadists were willing to work for the opportunity to hurt an innocent person. In both studies, sadism emerged as an independent predictor of behavior reflecting an appetite for cruelty. Together, these findings support the construct validity of everyday sadism and its incorporation into a new “Dark Tetrad” of personality.
“However, only sadists were willing to work for the opportunity to hurt an innocent person.”
Not sure why, but that line makes me
“Yeah, tough day at the office. Didn’t get to backstab as many cheerful coworkers as I wanted to. May have to work overtime this weekend to make up for the knife twisting deficit.”
Naturally, the question that arises is if a man with an appetite for cruelty (why you lookin’ at me funny?) has the same effect on a woman’s desire as does a man with the traditional Dark Triad traits. Narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy… chicks dig men with them. How about we throw wanton cruelty into the demonic stew. Does the full flowering of the Dark Tetrad turn a skilled ladyslayer into a God of Gash? My anecdotal impression is that it does. Oh sure, no woman will actually admit to being turned on by a sadistic man, but just watch how they act after the bastard has uncorked some wholly unnecessary joke at some innocent naif’s expense.
Offhand, a few of history’s great womanizers had a streak of sadism, a thrill for the soulkill. Maybe, like the Dark Triad, sadism signals alpha male mating value. A cocky disregard for retribution or rules, an indifference to the feelings of others, a concern only for one’s own pleasure… this is the stuff of alluring men.
Or perhaps sadism is like charm: easily overdone. Too much charm is icky and provokes distrust in women. Too much sadism, or misdirected sadism, might do the same. But just a little bit, once in a while, is the spice that stirs a woman’s sexuality.