Exploitative and manipulative traits can lead to more sex, according to a new study

man confident
man confident

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  • A new study suggests that bullies have more sexual partners than kinder people.

  • Researchers looked at where people were on the "honesty-humility" scale, and asked them to fill in questionnaires about their sex lives.

  • Bullies could have more success with because dominating others makes them look strong.

If you think back to the high school bully, you probably don't have great memories of them. We tell ourselves that they picked on others because they have low self-esteem, and deep down they aren't happy people.

But according to a new study, this supposed insecurity doesn't seem to have much of a negative impact on their sex lives.

The research, published in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science, suggests that bullies have more sexual partners than nice people.

Researchers from the University of Windsor in Canada investigated the personality differences that lead people to be more willing to bully others when they're looking for sexual partners. The team recruited 144 older adolescent volunteers, with an average age of about 18, and 396 younger teens, with an average age of 14-15.

They were asked to fill out a questionnaire about their personalities, including questions about their cooperation with people, and their tendency to exploit and antagonise others. This line of questioning was how the team measured how agreeable, emotionally in tune, honest, and humble the subjects were.

People with low scores were considered to be bullies, and were more likely to use bullying tactics to pursue sexual partners. Not only that, but those more willing to act this way were found to have more sex than the more honest and humble participants.

"Younger adolescents lower in 'honesty-humility' may therefore strategically manipulate others in a variety of ways to obtain more sexual partners," said Daniel Provenzano, the lead author of the study. "Our findings indirectly suggest that exploitative adolescents may have more sexual partners if they are able to strategically use exploitative behaviour like bullying to target weaker individuals."

Those on the low end of the honesty-humility scale could use bullying as a way to show they are strong and dominant, Provenzano said. They may find it's a successful way of making their opponents look weak, giving them an advantage.

"Our results suggest that both research and intervention efforts with older and younger adolescents need to recognise and respond to the relationships between personality, sex and bullying," he added.

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