Most people want to avoid narcissists because of their toxic behaviors and abusive tendencies. However, studies show many physically attractive people have narcissistic traits, so you may find them appealing before they show their true colors. We’re biologically wired to seek out good-looking people because it gives us an evolutionary advantage. Our primitive brains see beautiful people and associate them with better genes, intelligence, and other positive traits.
Unfortunately, being physically attractive has its pitfalls, as scientists have found that alluring, seductive people display more selfish behaviors. They may not have a full-blown personality disorder, but they often put themselves first and have an inflated ego. But many people still consider narcissists more desirable because of their charm, quick wit, and physical appearance.
If you find someone physically attractive, get to know them before you unwittingly fall for a potential narcissist. They may have a pretty face, but it’s not worth the heartache and pain you’ll inevitably experience. Below, we’ll explain why we tend to find narcissists so tantalizing, despite all the warning signs.
Here’s Why Narcissists Are So Attractive, According to Science
According to a meta-analysis published in Evolution and Human Behavior, physically attractive people tend to be more selfish. Because of fitness and evolutionary advantages, good-looking people believe they deserve whatever they want. Therefore, they display more self-centered behaviors to achieve their goals and retain their spot in the social hierarchy.
Prior studies have proven that people treat physically attractive individuals more favorably. However, scientists have performed little research on the behaviors and actions of good-looking people. Currently, two prevailing theories on attractiveness exist: the “what is beautiful is good” theory and the evolutionary theory of beauty.
The former posits that people treat handsome or beautiful individuals more approvingly, positively influencing their behavior. Contrastingly, the latter theory states that attractive people tend to have narcissistic traits and feel entitled.
Since these theories are opposites, researchers wanted to investigate several studies to uncover the truth. Do narcissists behave selfishly because of fitness advantages, or do they act benevolently in response to how people treat them?
First, we’ll discuss what these two theories suggest before explaining the study.
Are Physically Attractive People Self-Serving or Altruistic?
Previous studies show that beauty has many advantages, including improved mental health, relationships, and social status. In evolutionary terms, physically attractive people tend to have healthier, more robust genes that benefit potential mates. People usually perceive them as more mentally healthy, intelligent, and resourceful, reinforcing their inflated egos.
However, in the “what is beautiful is good” theory, gaining people’s approval makes narcissists more selfless and generous. In other words, even if a person displays a self-important attitude, they keep their ego in check and have empathy. When they receive positive feedback from others, they feel motivated to share that kindness and affection. They internalize these supportive, pleasing opinions and make them part of their personality.
On the contrary, the evolutionary theory suggests narcissists act more selfishly because of their good looks. They know people see them as superior and physically attractive, so they behave accordingly. That attitude colors their entire persona, making them believe they deserve preferential treatment.
Narcissists know they have certain fitness advantages that make them appealing and desirable to potential mates. Because they have greater bargaining power, they often put themselves first in relationships. From a young age, narcissists believe they deserve the world and will manipulate others to obtain their desires.
They use their charm, intelligence, and power to attract mates who might otherwise find them intolerable. However, their beauty and irresistible energy draw people to them like a moth to a flame. They realize their influence on others and only pursue those reinforcing their inflated self-image.
As you might expect, the authors concluded that narcissists behave more selfishly because of their physical advantages.
The Study on How Physically Attractive Narcissists Manipulate People
The scientists conducted five studies to analyze whether beauty results in altruistic or entitled tendencies. Their studies included over 1,300 people, comprising four samples with American Amazon workers and one with Chinese undergrads. The researchers measured self-centered intentions and behaviors in both public and private settings. Also, they either measured or manipulated psychological entitlement.
The researchers discovered that self-perceived attractiveness made participants feel more entitled. Narcissists set aside more resources for themselves, believing their social status made them more deserving. Also, the scientists found that manipulating participants into feeling entitled led to more egotistical intentions. Even if participants didn’t feel physically attractive, they responded positively to the researcher’s opinions.
Finally, when researchers made participants feel more attractive, they displayed heightened self-absorbed intentions and behaviors. In public settings, narcissists put their good looks aside and focus more on making a positive impression. Behind closed doors, they used their attractiveness to obtain more control and power.
However, in group settings, they considered how their behavior might influence their social status and future privileges. So, they wanted to win people over as a means to an end, usually to gain access to more abundant resources and opportunities.
Overall, researchers confirmed prior studies’ conclusions about the relationship between good looks and narcissism. Physically attractive people usually gratify their egos by pursuing relationships and opportunities that enhance their status.
They tend to act more selfishly since they believe they can offer exclusive benefits to their partner. Narcissists also think they deserve certain privileges and treatment because of their beauty, intellect, and social prowess. Finally, they seek rewards to fulfill their needs, regardless of how their behavior impacts others.
Final Thoughts on Why the Good Looks of Narcissists
Have you ever noticed that physically attractive people act more entitled or self-absorbed? You do not imagine this behavior; science shows that narcissists use their beauty to manipulate and control people. They know they’re irresistible and can get what they want without trying. Narcissistic people view others as a means to an end and have no problem trampling people to increase their power and status. So, don’t allow someone’s beauty to cloud your judgment €” they might not have your best interests at heart.