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ICYMI: FYI: Why Are Mean People So Hot? | Popular Science

FYI: Why Are Mean People So Hot? | Popular Science.


Are they?

I have an idea on this, as a student of anthropology, and I think it’s because we fundamentally have a predisposition for wanting to ‘level up’.

Let me explain.  You see someone with an arrogant, snotty attitude.  They’re mean, unpleasant, obnoxious.  Something about that behaviour signals to us, the observer, that this person must be so stacked genetically they don’t even have to expend any energy into fostering and nurturing social relationships. Those needs will be met by others who want to cultivate their own position by associating with someone they perceive as being of a higher status, whatever that status is – image, wealth, physical appearance, social collateral, etc.  Mean people essentially imply that they are superior because they don’t feel compelled to please others with cooperative, positive social behaviour.

Perhaps mean behaviour also gives the observer some subconscious suggestion of conferring a level of social protection by aligning themselves with the mean person.  People who tolerate mean behaviour may have an unconscious feeling of vulnerability of their own status, and thus are willing to put up with guff from a more assertive/aggressive person.

Looking at Western culture as a whole, we see plenty of examples in the media that meanness implies power – look at the careers of Simon Cowell and Donald Trump.

It’s just a thought.  Evolutionary psychology is, at best, a wonderful way to conduct thought experiments about human evolution that ultimately aren’t testable.  Still, the phenomenon of ‘meanness as allure’ is tempting to try to dissect at the species level.

Meanness is glamourized.  This has been problematic.  At the end of the day, I don’t see mean people as having anything to sell that we can’t find in a nice person – but Groucho Marx can probably summarize the conundrum of the supposed ‘sexiness’ of meanness best here:

“I would never want to belong to a club that would have me as a member.”


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