Science Says: Hot Guys Are A-Holes

A new study puts some science behind the claim that attractive men are, well, d-bags.

02.12.15 10:45 AM ET

New research has discovered that attractive men are more selfish than their less aesthetically gifted peers, putting a firm end to our dreams of finding an altruistic Adonis.

Psychologists at Brunel University in London measured the bodies of 125 men and women using a 3D scanner, calculating traditionally attractive traits such as slimness and waist-to-hip ratio (for the latter group). They then completed a personality test, which assessed their attitudes to selfishness and inequality, before partaking in a money-based economics experiment, designed to challenge their beliefs on having and sharing wealth.

“Our results showed that in fact we may be justified in expecting more attractive men to behave in ways that are less favourable to economic and social equality,” says the paper’s lead investigator, Dr. Michael Price. “The results suggest that better-looking men may be biased towards being more selfish and less egalitarian.”

The research team also gathered a group of “raters” to judge the attractiveness of the participants. A second group was asked to determine how egalitarian they thought the test subjects would be in real life, with the raters deeming the best looking of the bunch to be the least equality-minded.

While these assessments were valid for the men in the study, a perhaps unprecedented development was among the women involved, who were found to be no more selfish than average- lookers. This proves that hotties aren’t hard-wired to be douchier than notties, just that good looking men are seemingly incapable of caring about anyone other than themselves. Good job, guys!

“We all love hotties,” reasons dating blogger Kitty Salt. “In fact, the hotter, the more likely it is that they burn out our retinas and make us blind to their obvious shortcomings. But we must remind ourselves that having a certain visual allure creates a veil. We are all guilty of overlooking someone’s flaws in favour of their strengths, but if flaws are personality based, they usually don’t change.”

Attractiveness being perceived as a strength dates back to early human ancestral environments, where physically admirable or formidable people were deemed to have a greater ability to benefit or harm others, thus increasing their bargaining power in social situations. These naturally-bestowed traits, such as fitness and developmental stability, would have given them a certain predisposition to win social competitions, thereby benefitting from any advanced status or resources that followed. This unequal balance would swing in favor of society’s lookers, meaning that they would value social norms promoting inequality as it would serve them best, while average Joes would find those promoting equality the most advantageous.

While strength (and therefore inequality) among men was more valuable in early civilizations than it was for women, this doesn’t really explain why they are still less inclined to support equality than the opposite sex. “I don't think there is enough basis for speculation,” Dr. Price adds, but “people who are more attractive have to do less ... to make themselves valuable to other people [because] they're already highly valued by virtue of their high attractiveness.”

This isn’t the end of the road for self-serving sexpots, though: “The best way to help people overcome a bias is to make them more conscious that they have it,” Dr. Price advises.

Plus, y’know, being selfish isn’t necessarily the biggest deal breaker in the world—although the whole perpetuating-social-inequality-for-personal-gain thing is a touch disconcerting. With scientific proof of their narcissism and a recent study on how wide-faced men are more self-interested, at least we have all the necessary tools for avoiding these sexy, broad-cheeked egotists should we so choose.

As Salt points out, “The more we look, the less we see.” And pretty things are always nice, for a while at least. If you’re looking for the world’s next social freedom fighter, though, you may have to look outside the gym.