angry man

(Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels)

  • 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.

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

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  1. Michael Dowd says:

    Funny, Most of the assholes I know wear face masks and hate Trump.

    1. Plasticus Maritimus says:

      Ha ha ha I see what you did there. I get it. Me. I bet I’m the only one who sees it. My face mask has the Orange Jesus’s picture on it and I wear it outside in on my butt because I don’t know my asshole from a hole in my face and old carrot fertilizer can kiss it whenever he wants because he loves me.

    2. Carrot Top says:

      We’ll just add you to the list…

  2. JFCreally? says:

    I’m intolerant of stupid people mostly which are liberals. Meh… I guess I’m an a$$hole.

    1. BlueDolphin14 says:

      The stupid people are the conservatives. It has been measured and confirmed. American conservatives are definitely more intellectually challenged and more religeous in general. Religion actively suppresses creative thinking and encourages group-think. The religeous wing nuts are on the right! The right does not hold the ticket for intellectual gymnastics and creativity!!

    2. Suzanne says:

      Sure sound like one.

  3. Buck Fiden says:

    I don’t care about this idiotic article! It’s GODDAMNED STUPID AND BIASED! The writer is an idiot!

  4. tulsabubba says:

    If everybody has a boo hole, aren’t we all boo holes?

    Askin’ for a friend.

  5. James P. Bergeron says:

    I’d say the author “Chris” is a narcissist for calling Donald J. Trump a controversial person. But if the author wants to think of it an another way he is at the very least an asshole.

  6. R says:

    My wife sent me this article thinking that it woulds somehow be justification for her calling me an a**hole since I fall into every category that the article mentions. Since middle-aged men are most likely husbands and fathers who have to guide their families in a world that questions masculinity and paternal instincts, they need to operate with blinders on and worry about what’s in front of them instead of bending over backwards to accommodate others’ opinions to make them “feel good” about themselves. Not caring what others think and how I’m perceived by others is what makes me effective in my current state in life. If that makes me an a**hole, then so be it.

    1. ThisGuysARacist says:

      This “study” is literally nothing more than unvarnished racism against middle-aged, white men.

      1. Audrey says:

        It never said white. You did. You’re probably the kind of guy who says things like “why do they always have to make it about race?” And then claims anti racism because you’re white.

    2. Middle Age Asshole says:

      I used to be nice, but now that I am a middle aged man. I am indeed an asshole. I just came to a point in my life where I got tired. I got physically tired and mentally tired of bending to extended family, colleagues, and others that want something from me.

      1. Daniel W Barrett says:

        Amen brother

    3. Annika4 says:

      Your wife most likely sent you this article because of how you treat her. The problem with men like you is that you know you are abusive towards others (“asshole”) but you try to justify it by saying it’s part of your role as a husband and father. No, it isn’t. Being an entitled and demanding asshole, treating your wife as if she was a subordinate or maid/nanny, thinking your needs and wants are above your spouses, and totally neglecting her feelings, makes you an asshole. It’s totally NOT the definition of husband and father. That toxic 💩 is something you either learned from your own narcissistic father or picked up from other asshole male friends, relatives, or associates, you either being a personality sponge, or you being a person who easily succumbs to group think (gang mentality).

      You can guide and lead your family without being an asshole. Good leadership isn’t being a dictator. A good leader listens to his people, takes them into consideration in his decisions, leads by example, and values their people’s physical and emotional well-being. A good leader puts his people and their needs BEFORE his own. A good leader, when given the situation, would sacrifice his desires for the good of his people. These are also outward actions that show and prove that you truly love your family and not just yourself (like a narcissist).

      1. Hmmmmm says:

        Situational Projection much?
        Sacrifice is noble, though not required when the cost to self becomes too high. A good leader knows how to balance self-sacrifice and personal health. Blanket statements dictating how others should manage their _needs_ show entitlement.

  7. רענן אלעזרי says:

    Wow! The topic is so explosive. I suggest divorcing people from policy to make this less personal.

  8. ThisGuysARacist says:

    The first attributes are middle-aged and white? So, basically unrepentant racism against middle-aged, white men.

    1. Suzanne says:

      I did not see the “white” part. But, it is a study. Doesn’t mean you have to be angry about it.

    2. Audrey says:

      It never said “white”. But that you inferred it did is interesting. And telling.

    3. Carrot Top says:

      I’ll add you to the list as well…

  9. Suzanne says:

    What you lack in originality, you make up in unoriginality.

  10. Mark says:

    So only middle aged males are the biggest assholes? Is this based of real science or is this based on biased opinion? Okay, first of all, I am 64 years old and I admit I spend an enormous amount of energy being angry; however, I do not take it out on others. My anger is about 99% internalized and is doing me more harm that it will ever do anyone else. What makes me angry? The increase of aggressive drivers, the epidemic of noise from loud exhaust systems on vehicles and their sub-woofers that shake the walls of my house when they drive by, my neighborhood becoming student ghetto as the college in town keep growing, all the disorderly conduct by these immature and irresponsible neighbors who party to the wee hours as I try to sleep, neighbors who allow their dogs to bark incessantly, The demise of the middle class, record high inflation, a broken medical system, a broken justice system, illegal aliens given a free ride while I am still working my ass off at 64, being in a demographic that others find it convenient to vilify as the bad guy. If I am angry, I have a right to be because I feel victimized by a bumper crop of assholes of all ages who feel they have a right to do whatever they please. I am surrounded by assholes and they are mostly college students who are renting house on my street and there is no adult supervision. I resent your assessment of who the biggest assholes are. If you have the neighbors I have, you might have to revise your assessment quite a bit. Oh, I am quite capable to getting even with the little shits but then that makes me an asshole and I choose to not go that route.

  11. Go says:

    The demographics are insignificant. They’re angry. And they look like they’d rather be anywhere else. So go be angry by yourself everyone is sick of your face. B face f.