Most likely to be middle-aged men, the typical asshole tends to be manipulative, aggressive, and struggles to control anger.
‘They just didn’t really care about what others were thinking or how they were perceived by others.’
ATHENS, Ga. — It’s safe to say just about everyone knows that person. That one person they just can’t stand, that drives them crazy, and they wish they never saw again. Simply put, a complete and total asshole. Now, a new study is revealing the personality traits and most likely people who are the assholes in your life.
Researchers from the University of Georgia say that the most likely people to be the “biggest assholes” in someone’s life are middle-aged men. Just to be clear, however, these aren’t the only individuals who display signs of “assholery.”
The team surveyed nearly 400 people, asking each one to think about the “biggest asshole” in their life and the personality traits they display regularly. Respondents most often claim these people are manipulative, aggressive, and entitled.
Are a**holes one step away from being psychopaths?
Study authors say two traits respondents mentioned, manipulation and irresponsibility, are concerning because assholes aren’t the only ones displaying them. These two traits in particular are major factors in expert profiles of psychopathic, antisocial, and narcissistic personality disorders.
“People didn’t really have very much trouble figuring out who the ‘biggest asshole’ in their life was,” says lead author Brinkley Sharpe in a media release.
Along with certain middle-aged men, the survey found half of the “biggest assholes” respondents know personally are their exes, old bosses, and even estranged family members.
“On average, participants didn’t think that they were very close to these individuals, which makes sense because these people are being described as having pretty aversive behaviors,” Sharpe adds.
For one in three people, unfortunately, the “biggest assholes” they know are still a constant presence in their lives! These annoying individuals include co-workers, friends, and even their current romantic partner!
Everyone’s definition is different
So, what really makes someone an asshole? It’s quite possible one person thinks someone is a complete jerk, while their friend actually likes them. With that in mind, study authors looked at the actions these individuals take which rub everyone around them the wrong way.
Along with noting the top three behaviors people say makes someone an asshole, the group had to answer these three questions: Do you think that person knows their behavior bothers people? Do you think that person cares that their behavior bothers people? And do you think that person could change their behavior if they really wanted to?
According to the respondents, the common theme among the biggest assholes is that they allegedly know their behavior bothers others, but they just don’t care.
“It’s interesting to me that the behaviors people were keying in on sort of run the gamut,” Sharpe says. “When we talk about personality, the asshole was described as somebody who is not agreeable and is angry. When we talk about behaviors, the asshole was not necessarily being antagonistic toward people, but they just didn’t really care about what others were thinking or how they were perceived by others.”
Another common theme is that assholes often struggle to control their anger, are often irresponsible, and hold bigoted opinions. However, the researchers also found that respondents have many complaints which are specific to their own world view. These included people calling someone an asshole because they don’t wear face masks or voted for a controversial figure like Donald Trump.
“There’s clearly a lot of variation in how people use this word,” Sharpe concludes. “I think the implication of the study is that insults matter. We do mean certain things by using them or we associate them with certain characteristics.”
The study is published in the journal Collabra: Psychology.