New York - Bullies have more sex appeal and a higher social standing than everyone else, researchers claim.
They say child bullies are well-adjusted people who are coldly calculating and intimidate others because it makes them more popular.
Later in life they have more dates and more sex than the rest of their former classmates, the study said.
The findings challenge the theory that bullies learn their behaviour from dysfunctional parents. In fact there is nothing wrong with them and they are just using bullying as a “tool” to get ahead.
The two Canadian studies may go some way to explaining why celebrity bullies such as Gordon Ramsay are a hit with women despite their tempers.
Simon Fraser University criminologist Jennifer Wong surveyed 135 teenagers from a high school in Vancouver about how often they were bullied. They were divided into categories: bully, bystander, victim or victim-bully – children who learned their behaviour from others such as parents. Bullies, who accounted for around 11 percent, scored highest on social status and self-esteem, and lowest on depression.
Wong said the study showed that punishing a bully does not often work and in fact could enhance bullies’ social status through notoriety.
She said: “Humans tend to try to establish a rank hierarchy. When you’re in high school, it’s a very limited arena in which you can establish your rank, and climbing the social ladder to be on top is one of the main ways. Bullying is a tool you can use to get there.”
Preliminary findings of a separate study by Brock University psychologist Tony Volk backed up the conclusions.
He has been piloting a project in a school in Arizona to channel bullies’ anger by doing high profile tasks such as the front door greeter.
Volk said among the 178 teenagers he studied the instances of bullying fell ‘dramatically’ after the programme was introduced.
He said that having a “zero tolerance” approach to bullying didn't work because bullies were smart and felt that they were being told: “Give us this behaviour that’s benefiting you for nothing”.
Instead we should offer them incentives which give them something in exchange for modifying how they act.
Volk said his findings showed that 10 percent of bullies are what he called “bully victims” who are what we imagine them to be: children who learned their behaviour from other people such as their parents.
But the other 90 percent are what he called “pure bullies” who “don’t seem to show any kind of social or cognitive deficits”.
Volk said: “They have the good social skills, they’re just using them in a bad way’”
Not only that, they get more sex too.
Volk said: “Our preliminary research shows that they do have more dates but in particular the data is really clear for sex behaviour. Bullies as young adolescents or as university students are getting more sexual partners and are less likely to be virgins than victims or people who are not involved in bullying.”
Both studies were first reported by the National Post, a Canadian newspaper.
Rob Frenette, co-founder of support group Bullying Canada, disagreed and said that most bullies do have some kind of issue that needs to be addressed.
He said: “This is kind of stepping backward and that’s concerning. I don’t want parents who have a child who is considered a bully to think: ‘Well, it’s something they’re born with and there’s nothing we can do to adjust their behaviour’.”