Prior studies have found genetic links to risk-taking tendencies among both men and women, so some of the "crazy bastard" behavior appears to be hard-wired.
As for why men tend to engage in it more than women, Fessler explained that there is greater variance in male reproductive success than in female reproductive success. This is a consequence of the greater female investment in reproduction, due to pregnancy and lactation. Young men tend to become less risk-prone as they get older. They essentially grow out of it.
Daniel Kruger, a researcher and faculty member of the University of Michigan"s School of Public Health, finds the Crazy Bastard Hypothesis "intriguing and intuitively plausible."
Kruger said, "It helps to remember that our psychological architecture evolved in a world much different from what you and I experience. Only very recently have we had rule of law and near universal police protection in modern societies."
"Even just a hundred years ago," he continued, "people were at risk of physical confrontations both within their social group and with other groups. Having formidable allies and creating a deterrent to threats were very real and prominent concerns through most of human history."
Such concerns live on to this day.
Fessler said that women who feel that they are in need of physical protection tend to go after daredevils, while certain countries tend to always support "Crazy Bastard" leaders.
"As for electing leaders," Fessler said, "if one lives in a setting where violent conflict occurs between groups, then one should place greater value on having a leader who will intimidate enemies."