Shy woman and man sitting on sofa couch next each other. First date. Attractive girl and handsome guy meeting dating and trying to talk. Male touching picking up female.
April 6, 2017

Dysfunctional people tend to date each other, study finds

If you're antagonistic or narcissistic, you’re more likely to be more tolerant of others who share those dysfunctional personality traits than people who are kinder, more agreeable or selfless in nature, according to research published in a recent edition of the Journal of Personality.

In the new study, University of Georgia psychologist Joshua Miller and his colleagues asked more than 200 college students to rate their own personality traits, including antagonism and hostility towards others, as well as how “likeable” those characteristics were in other people.

“As expected, participants rated maladaptive traits more favorably if they considered themselves to possess those traits as well,” the study authors wrote. “Also as expected, individuals with higher antagonism scores... rated antagonism and its related facets as ‘tolerable’ – not necessarily likable, but as less unlikable than the average participant.”

In other words, those who rated themselves as being narcissistic or self-centered, aggressive and hostile (psychoticism), Machiavellian (cunning or unscrupulous) or impulsive tended to be more accepting of other individuals who also demonstrated those dysfunctional personality traits, Live Science and the Huffington Post explained in reports published earlier this week.

This tolerance, Miller told Live Science, may help explain why some personality disorders can be difficult to treat. “Psychopathic and narcissistic individuals, they understand they are more antagonistic” than other peoples, he told the website. “They just don't think it's problematic for them.”

Explaining why antagonists, narcissists pursue relationships with one another

While earlier research determined that narcissists are more likely to form friendships with other narcissists because they share the same dysfunctional personality traits, the Huffington Post said that the new study could explain why such individuals are also more likely to enter relationships (including marriage) with individuals who suffer from various personality disorders.

The new study, Miller explained, found that people tended to have more positive feelings toward personality traits that they possessed themselves. “If you describe yourself as neurotic, there is a correlation with you saying that you like that trait,” he said, adding that this relationship was the strongest in antagonism. While antagonistic people still didn’t necessarily like antagonism, those individuals were more likely to be willing to put up it than less-antagonistic people.

As the psychologist told Live Science, “Antagonistic people don't really like antagonism, and neurotic people don't really like neuroticism, and introverted people don't really like introversion. They're just more tolerant of it. They don't rate it as strongly negative as people who don't have those traits.” This tolerance, he continued, could explain why people with personality disorders are more likely to befriend or marry others possessing similar character traits.

However, he also told the website that there are still questions that need to be answered. For instance, studies have shown that narcissists can be likable initially, but that feelings towards them become increasingly negative over time. In addition, research has also suggested that an interaction between two antagonists can be unpleasant. However, in most cases, Miller and his colleagues said that the study shows that people tend to be aware of their own characteristics, and tend to be more accepting of similar personality traits in others.

-----

Image credit: Thinkstock