Evidence That Peacocking Works

Peacocking — the art of wearing outrageous ensembles and eye-catching baubles — is much-maligned, both within and without the seduction community. Nowadays, when people hear the word “peacocking”, they scoff as their minds race to images of pickup artist Mystery and his gigantic furry hats, eye liner, jumbled bracelets, and Victorian long coats.

sure he looks ridiculous, but are you banging girls this hot?

sure he looks ridiculous, but are you banging girls this hot?

CH is on record as agnostic on the effectiveness of peacocking, at least as the term is conventionally understood. My impression is that there is a high risk that an improperly balanced effort to peacock will more harm than help a man’s pickup cause.

But in point of fact, I do peacock, if not nearly to the extent that pre-fatherhood Mystery did. My clothes won’t make me an automatic focal point at social events, but neither does my style ape the drabness of herbwear. I prefer styling myself with hints and suggestions of a free spirit residing within.

Into the cacophony of ridicule hurled by naysayers at men dressing like fops comes scientific evidence, albeit indirect, that peacocking will make a man more attractive to women.

Recent research has found that people with so-called “dark” personality traits are more physically attractive than others. […]

Nicholas Holtzman and Michael Strube of Washington University in St. Louis were interested in looking at the relationship between physical attractiveness and people’s tendencies towards narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism. They wanted to find out whether these three traits, referred to as the “dark triad,” are associated with a greater ability to successfully enhance one’s physical appearance.

To test this idea, they invited 111 college students (64 percent women) into their laboratory. Each student was photographed soon after they arrived.  Then, after taking this initial photograph, each student asked to change out of their own clothes and put on a pair of gray sweatpants and a t-shirt.  Women were instructed to remove any makeup, and anyone with long hair was asked to pull it back into a ponytail. The students were then photographed in this more natural state. Holtzman and Strube showed both sets of photographs to a group of strangers who rated them in terms of physical attractiveness. 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.

Next Holtzman and Strube assessed the students’ personalities and their tendencies towards narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism. They asked the students to rate themselves and to provide email addresses for a few of their friends so that the researchers could ask them to provide ratings as well. This combination of self and peer ratings was used to calculate a final set personality scores for each student. Furthermore, the students’ ratings on narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism were combined into create a composite “dark triad” score.

The dark triad score was 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. People with dark personalities seem to be better at making themselves physically appealing.

The findings reinforce previous research showing that narcissists are more popular than others, literally at first sight.

People who are best at making the most of what they’ve got — a talent which can be accurately described as peacocking when applied to physical presentation — are very attractive to the opposite sex. Take away their ability to peacock, and suddenly they are not so attractive anymore, at least as measured by the pre-interactive appearance they radiate during first impressions. And those people who possess the “dark triad” personality suite are the most skilled peacockers and manipulators of others’ perceptions of them.

Keep a few points in mind about this study.

1. The researchers examined the physical aspect of people with and without dark triad personalities. This study says nothing about the charismatic pull that dark triads have over others beyond their physical appearance; what might otherwise be called dark triad game. Other studies have found that dark triads exert great attractive influence on others based on the strength of their charm and narcissistic self-regard as well.

2. The facial good looks or lack thereof of the study participants were irrelevant to its conclusions. Those dark triad students were the same, as far as facial bone structure is concerned, in both their self-constructed and “natural” photos. So it was not their facial shape that made the difference in people’s opinions of their attractiveness between their peacocked and natural photos. It was how they chose to dress and present themselves that made the difference in perceptions. The “only looks matter” trolls will have to search elsewhere to find a tool to massage their prostates.

3. This study is good news for average-looking men: you can bump up your raw physical attractiveness to women by adopting a more avant-garde style of dress and comporting yourself with the mannerisms of a sociopathic megalomaniac. And my personal observations confirms this: I know a few gnarly-looking men who are catnip to women because they dress like creations from a fantasy novel aimed at women. Even my perception of their objective looks is fooled.

Remember that a man’s “looks” encompasses far more variables than does a woman’s looks. Women get significant boosts to their beauty rating from wearing makeup, an augmentation which directly alters their facial countenance, but men get boosts from an assortment of lifestyle changes, including dress, body language and facial expression. This is because women rate a man’s “appearance” using a more holistic algorithm than that used by men when they are rating a woman’s appearance.

Before any of you haters, trolls, or robotic spergs comment here, I suggest you read this post. If it is clear to me you have not read that linked post, you will be summarily cast into the hellfire of Mount Dork. You’d probably enjoy that, wouldn’t you?

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