I’m a bastard, but you’re worse illustration: everyone knows a bastard. But is there a common thread in the character traits of the people we regard as bastards or bitches? Scientists decided to investigate and were able to map out what typifies a bastard.
Just the thought of certain individuals makes us gasp: they make fun of us time and time again, don’t mind throwing snide remarks, and get a kick out of seeing someone else cringe. But while there are already overarching characteristics in the scientific world, for example, extraversion, conscientiousness, openness, and friendliness, for the label ‘bastard’ it was a matter of guessing about the defining character traits.
A research team at the University of Georgia decided to change that. They asked nearly four hundred people to describe the biggest bastard they had ever met and to map their personality, beliefs, and behavior, among other things. The study participants found this to be anything but difficult, says lead author Brinkley Sharpe. They didn’t have to think twice about who the biggest bastard in their area was.
Everyone has a chance
Remarkable: almost everyone has a chance to be “the biggest bastard” in someone’s life, justifying the saying: I’m a bastard, but you’re worse illustration. “A third of the assholes identified were current romantic partners, co-workers, bosses, relatives or friends,” Sharpe said. “Half of them were bastards that people had lost contact with, such as estranged relatives.” And bad news for middle-aged men: they were most often described as bastards.
All of the survey participants’ responses were grouped into fourteen broad themes, such as aggression, arrogance, insensitivity, dominant behavior, immaturity, irresponsibility, manipulation, or rudeness.
Indifferent to their image
“In terms of behavior, the bastards in question weren’t necessarily hostile to humans. They just didn’t care what others thought about them or how they were perceived by others,” continues Sharpe. The researchers then summarized the character traits of bastards into these defining personality traits:
- They are often unfriendly.
- They are not particularly careful or orderly.
- They are often very neurotic or emotionally unstable (their feelings and reactions fluctuate widely).
- They also do not score highly in terms of openness.
“Bastards’ personality profiles resemble prototypes of psychopathic, antisocial, and narcissistic personality disorders,” said study researcher Sharpe. But of course, that doesn’t mean that the people we label as bastards also have a personality disorder per se.
Brinkley Sharpe noticed that the term “bastard” is a very broad concept: participants used it to describe people who exhibit disruptive behavior to people who acted really violently and criminally. “There’s obviously a lot of variation in how people use this word,” he concluded.