From Schwarzenegger to Weiner, the powerful also seem highly-sexed. Why?
Politicians aren’t more morally corrupt, say most Americans, but are simply caught more often than their peers, according to a poll examining public opinion and political sex scandals. More than half of poll respondents (57 percent) maintain that politicians entangled in recent sex scandals don’t represent a group that follows a lower standard of morality, but rather are subjected to such great scrutiny that they are caught more often. While public opinion doesn’t separate politicians from the general population in this regard, demodirt.com was curious: is there something to Henry Kissinger’s assertion that power is the ultimate aphrodisiac?
Evolutionary psychologist Dan Kruger, PhD, of the University of Michigan, says that there is an “ancient connection” between power and sex.
“We have seen a lot of these political scandals in recent years,” he says. “Politicians and the rich and powerful have been getting in trouble for sexual escapades. We are a slightly polygamous species, and those who have risen to the top have had more access to women.”
There are two possibilities when a man earns political power: he already has the kind of personality that lends itself to professional and sexual attention, or the power has had an effect on him, both psychologically and physiologically.
“Guys who are more competitive are the ones who would want to go into these positions where they make a lot of money or become powerful—or it could be the transforming experience of it,” Kruger explains.
Power may change us as a very basic, biological level.
“When men win status competitions, their testosterone levels go up,” Kruger notes. “Some men may feel rush of power and that power might even lead to both psychological and physiological changes that are consistent with historical patterns.”
On the other hand, sometimes attitudes change, not necessarily biology.
“It seems like some men, when they rise to power, they feel entitled,” he says. “Men who rise to these positions of power might feel more motivated and more entitled to them.”
No amount of biology or testosterone excuses bad behavior, Kruger maintains.
“Just because we have these tendencies that have been shaped by evolution, doesn’t justify what these guys are doing,” he contends. “It is not like his genes are forcing him to do that.”
Noting that some handsome icons stay out of scandal, Kruger says, “Look at Harrison Ford,” Kruger notes. “Some men are immune—it is not inevitable.”
What happens when a female gains power?
She would be less interested in casual flings—“women don’t have the same interests on average in short term sexual affairs”—but they may leverage their power in other ways.”
If she is currently “mismatched in mate quality,” Kruger says, “she may go upmarket, and switch partners.”
Generally, it seems that power—whether it attracts those who already possess sexual prowess or it transforms those who acquire it—does have an effect on mating behaviors for both men and women.
“Kissinger’s claim that power is ultimate aphrodisiac is probably true,” Kruger concludes.
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