RESEARCH CENTRE: Why bad boys do better at love


New scientific research explains the puzzling phenomenon that is the allure of the bad boy. Science confirms that people with pathological personalities like the average bad boy, appear more attractive to the opposite sex.

Interestingly, contrary to popular belief, they also have more success at long-term relationships, not just flings.

A team of researchers from the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona looked into more than 1,000 heterosexual men and women who all showed pathological tendencies like impulsiveness and neurotic behaviours. The study subjects were quizzed on the number of sexual partners as well as how good they were at their jobs and their general lifestyles.

In a list of desired qualities in a partner, you are unlikely to find impulsive compulsion or neuroticism. It thus came as a surprise when both men and women with pathological tendencies were found to have had a higher number of both mates and children than normal people.

They were also found to be more successful at long-term relationships. Even neurotic females who are often anxious, insecure and unstable were found to have more stable, long-lasting love than regular women. Obsessive compulsive males scored highest on relationships.


Fernando Gutierrez, who led the study, observes that people who are obsessively compulsive may score best in relationships because they are the ones that make the most money.

Men with obsessive compulsion were found to earn almost twice as much as men who did not have this trait. Money and relationships can’t be separated. To a woman, money means safety and more resources for their offspring.

In the study which has been published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, pathological individuals were found to have a wide array of characteristics including being selfish, imprudent, rebellious and rule breaking. The researchers conclude that these may be the very traits that make these individuals attractive. Women, especially, can’t resist deviant behaviour.

Fernando Gutierrez explains, “While they have all those negative qualities, pathological individuals are also brave, temerarious, independent and self-reliant. They live frantic, galvanising lives which can be very attractive.”

These traits may be an evolutionary advantage. Women for instance, tend to be neurotic in general. A woman who is overly neurotic may be perceived to be very feminine, thus attractive. It then should not seem odd that a man seeks out a woman with neurotic tendencies.