If you're looking to bring someone home from the bar, you may want to tone down the nice guy act, at least around other guys. New research indicates that being overconfident can actually help you attain a romantic partner. 

'Anatomy of a douchebag/ayeshamus/Flickr Creative Commons'
Source: 'Anatomy of a douchebag/ayeshamus/Flickr Creative Commons'

Confidence is hugely important in social, professional, and romantic settings. The impression is that self-confidence actually reflects the desirable qualities that an individual possesses. By recognizing and exploiting the perception of confidence, some people might be able to heighten their own desirability by being overconfident. A recent study, published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, set out to explore how being overconfident helps, or hinders, attracting mates. 

In the first experiment, participants wrote short dating profiles and completed a simple test to measure overconfidence. It involved rating familiarity with 150 terms or phrases. One in every five terms was completely made-up (for example, a "sentence stigma"). Participants claiming familiarity with these made-up terms were obviously being overconfident in their estimates. Another group of participants then rated the dating-profiles. Not surprisingly, it was found that overconfident individuals wrote more confident dating profiles, and that more confident profiles were more desirable. However, over-confidence itself didn't make the profiles anymore desirable. In fact, a follow-up experiment showed that over-confident profiles were rated as arrogant, indicating a lack of direct link between over-confidence and desirability.

Overconfidence doesn't necessarily make you more desirable, it just makes you seem like an arrogant jerk. The researchers also wanted to know how overconfidence might affect competition for romantic partners. Perhaps you're less likely to attempt to converse with someone if there's a mouthy jerk next to her chewing her ear off about his quarterly sales index.

In a third experiment, participants imagined that they were taking part in a singles mixer that a desirable mate would also be attending. When they arrive, they find the object of their desire is sitting with a rival of the same sex. To get an idea of their rival, these participants read the dating profiles from the previous experiment. They were then given an option of joining the table with their highly desirable potential partner and a rival, or the second table with two less desirable people. As predicted, the researchers found that people are far less likely to compete when their rival is overconfident. 

'Smooches/Matt E/Flickr Creative Commons'
Source: 'Smooches/Matt E/Flickr Creative Commons'

A follow up analysis showed that overconfident people are more likely to compete themselves. Not only will overconfident people not let you get a word in due to their bragging, but they're also more likely to stay to the bitter end until you get tired and decide it's not worth it.

Overconfidence may make you seem like an arrogant jerk, but other guys are less likely to compete with you. If there's no one else around at the end of the day, you might just end up with the girl anyway.

About the Author

James M Sherlock

James Sherlock is a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at the University of Queensland.

You are reading

Great (Ape) Expectations

Hundreds of Psychology Studies are Wrong

One hidden factor means that hundreds of studies are completely useless

The Biology of Bigotry

Is prejudice in your genes?

Should Women 'Expect' to Orgasm During Sex?

The mysterious case of the missing O and some possible clues to its whereabouts