That stunning figure across the room, the sultry, intriguing, alluring person who radiates a certain indeterminable attractiveness—what is her secret? According to psychologists Nicholas Holtzman and Michael Strube, it could be that she’s chock full of narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism. Hot.
The researchers got a bunch of college students to judge the attractiveness of their peers based on two different pictures, one of the person all done up with hair and makeup and clothes as they pleased, the other fresh-faced and in sweats, says Daisy Grewal for Scientific American:
By comparing the attractiveness ratings of the dressed-down and dressed-up students, the researchers were able to determine how much each student was able to make themselves more appealing through flashy clothes, makeup, accessories, etc.
The researchers also assessed the personalities of the college students who appeared in the photographs, judging how narcissistic, self-centered and manipulative they were. These traits, together known as the “dark triad” were “positively correlated with their “dressed-up” attractiveness – a finding that mirrors previous findings.”
However, the dark triad score was not related to ratings of physical attractiveness in the dressed-down photos. In other words, people with dark personality traits are not seen as more physically attractive than others when you take away their freedom to wear their own clothes and makeup.
So, in a discovery that will surprise approximately no one, the researchers found that the students who were obsessed with themselves and their appearance were also better at playing-up, masking and showcasing their appearances.
More from Smithsonian.com:
The Pros to Being a Psychopath