Do You Like Bad Boys? Science Says It’s Not Your Fault

May 16, 2012  |  

How many times have you heard someone say, “If you would stop dating losers/thugs/triflin’ men/bad boys/etc. you wouldn’t have so much trouble in relationships?” Well now you can tell those people it’s not your fault you don’t know how to pick ’em, it’s your hormones.

That’s the conclusion of a new study from the University of Texas at San Antonio and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Kristina Durante, one of the researchers, says that during ovulation our hormones confuse us into somehow thinking a man with no potential actually has some.

“Under the hormonal influence of ovulation, women delude themselves into thinking that the s[w]exy bad boys will become devoted partners and better dads. When looking at the s[w]exy cad through ovulation goggles, Mr. Wrong looked exactly like Mr. Right.”

If PMS can also make eating an entire tub of ice cream seem like a good idea during ovulation, I suppose this is possible too. The researchers came to this conclusion by asking female participants to view online dating profiles of either fine or reliable men during periods of both high and low fertility. When asked to predict likely paternal contribution from the prospective partners close to ovulation, the women thought the attractive men would contribute most, meaning they’d be better dads.

To back that up, a second study was conducted where actors played the role of bad boy or reliable dad, and researchers found the same thing. If a woman started out dating a guy she knows is no good, at some point—during ovulation—she’ll be under the impression that he’ll make a good long-term partner. What’s funny is that’s only true when the woman is referring to her own partner.

“When asked about what kind of father the s[w]exy bad boy would make if he were to have children with another woman, women were quick to point out the bad boy’s shortcomings,” Durante said. “But when it came to their own child, ovulating women believed that the charismatic and adventurous cad would be a great father to their kids.”

That I can believe. We all have a tendency to think a man is going to be different for us than he is with any other women, and most times we’re wrong. This finding may not help you figure out why you’re attracted to bad boys the other three weeks out of the month when you’re not ovulating but there is at least one takeaway here: don’t date while you ovulate.

Do you think this study really explains the bad boy attraction?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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