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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  • There is something to this finding, but what is even more inexplicable is why men seem to be super-attracted to women when they are on their period. It drives me crazy because when a woman is on her cycle, a man is the last thing on her mind. Yet, that’s when they want to be all in our faces.


    All I can say is if you let your hormones decide if a bad boy will be a good mate instead of actually using your brain which allows you to make rational and logical decisions then you get what you deserve.

  • Maybe as a hookup. I’ll admit that when I’m more “hormonal”, the bad boy has his appeal but when I’m back to normal I’m not even looking in that direction. 

  • IllyPhilly

     That was the best “bad” boy pic you could find?

  • DoinMe

    I believe that some women are attracted to bad boys because they provide a sense of  protection and they take women out of their comfort zone and can be fun. But I also believe that the bad boy attraction dies out as women mature and get more serious about their relationships.  

    • jason vorhees

       Do black bad boys really take sistas out of their comfort zone?  Whats edgy about a man who is a drug dealer?  He carries a gun so he is edgy?  He is out on the street in the middle of the day or night with no real job hangin with the boys on the corner?  I think it has more to do with she cant control his actions.

      • DoinMe

        Is that the only way you know how to define a bad boy? I knew plenty of bad boys in college who were not drug dealers and gun carriers. 

        And you could be correct. Perhaps a part of the attraction is that a woman can’t control him and he’s a challenge.

        • jason vorhees

           well what is your definition of a real bad boy? not a perceived one but a REAL bad boy?  My perception of someone who is actually BAD is a person who is doing bad sh*t.  robbing, killing, drug dealing, always fighting etc.  Just overall destructive behavior.

  • Jaida Bang

    I’ve heard this many many times before. not sure if I hold any value in the research but it is not a new concept by far.

  • Mrsadkiah

    Ummm, can someone explain to me why swexy can just be that on here and has to be changed to swexy? Did I miss when this became a bad word?

    • MNEditor2

      That’s something we’re even still trying to figure out. Sorry…

  • Bigshorty

    So what accounts for the millions of women who can discern a “bad boy” from a good guy in spite of PMS or ovulation? Many women have no trouble understanding that a guy is no good and avoid them as potential mates and husbands. As a man, I have been told (and have experienced) mood swings and hormonal changes in behavior in the women I have dated, but this study seems simplistic.

  • Faecoast

    What a load of crap. Theyre attracted to bb because thats their type. Plain and simple.

    • Roni

      I agree.

  • NikkitaMichelle

    Greatest lie ever told……..No one understands him like I do. 

  • jason vorhees

    the comparison to the ice cream made me lmfao

  • Guest

    Believe it or not, not all women are into bad boys.