"It's sexy. It's pretty hot," Below Deck Mediterranean's Sandy Yawn says of being a captain.
Her guests love to meet her, ask her questions, and generally are really impressed by a woman steering the ship.
What is it about someone in a position of power that makes them so attractive to people?
Let's break it down. According to Psychology Today, power and powerlessness define us as humans.
"As children we grew up knowing that some people had power and others didn’t. Those who had a knack for getting us to behave had power and those who didn’t didn’t," reports PT. "Those who frightened us in some way were believed, while those who said the same words, yet without the fearful element just didn’t have the same power. And as we watched and looked at these people as mirrors we either identified with power, powerlessness or some gradation between the two. We began to see ourselves relative to power."
One recent study looked at power and sexual attraction and how one affects the other:
"We asked participants to record their sexual attraction to images of the opposite sex in swimsuits. Our results showed that high‐power individuals, both men and women, recorded significantly greater sexual attraction to the images than did low‐power individuals, demonstrating that power heightens sexual attraction to the opposite sex among heterosexual men and women. The findings highlight power's activation of the mating motivation and have implications for the effect of power on sexualized behaviors."
In other words, power and attraction are completely related for real.
But people in positions of power have to be careful not to abuse their position.
"People in the 'powerful' group are prone to two shortcomings: They develop empathy deficits and are less able to read others’ emotions and take others' perspectives," reports another study out of Berkeley. "And they behave in an impulsive fashion—they violate the ethics of the workplace. In one experiment, participants in power took candy from children without blinking an eye."
For males in power, they can also overestimate their own attractiveness.
"Our research also shows that these two tendencies manifest in inappropriate sexual behavior in male-dominated contexts, ... Powerful men, studies show, overestimate the sexual interest of others and erroneously believe that the women around them are more attracted to them than is actually the case. The challenge, then, is to change social systems in which the abuses of power arise and continue unchecked."
As for Sandy and women in (and rising to) positions of power today, that same report says that's a great thing.
"We are also learning of the many benefits of women rising to positions of power, from lower rates of corruption to more-profitable bottom lines."
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