William Costello is an academic, writer, student, and incel researcher who examines the topic of involuntary celibacy from an evolutionary psychological perspective. He is involved in academic "counter-extremism" circles, and studied under the renowned evolutionary psychologist David Buss. He has also written for several online publications on the topic of incels, generally centre-right ones such as Quillette.
In light of his published academic work, public debates he has taken part in, and the podcasts he has taken part in on the issue, he seems to have established himself as some kind of academic "incel whisperer". Despite being a professed (liberal?) feminist, he seems to believe that women's economic liberation is one of the primary causes of inceldom, arguing that it has increased female economic hypergamy and thus rendered more low-status men incel.
He also seems to think that increasing the amount of sexless men will inevitably result in greater social instability. So Costello can be lumped with Jordan Peterson, Edward Dutton etc. as a thinker who views inherent female economic hypergamy combined with female economic and social empowerment as the basis of the growing trend towards sexlessness among young men in Western countries.
Unlike Peterson, however, he doesn't advocate any kind of "enforced monogamy" as the solution to inceldom, and instead promotes "mental health interventions" and vague "teach men how to better succeed" individualist type solutions.
2022 study[edit | edit source]
In 2022, in a study published in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science, Costello and his team surveyed 151 self-identified incels and attempted to build a psychological and demographic profile for these men. It is not clear what the specific charateristics were of the control group he used, as he just vaguely refers to them as "similar aged men".
The survey appears to have been widely circulated in online spaces where self-identified incels congregate, and Costello argues that a major strength of his study compared to previous efforts was that he did not only survey users of the largest incel forum, incels.is.
The results are briefly summarized as follows:
- Incels reported substantially higher adverse mental health symptoms than the control group. Self-identified incels were much less satisfied with their lives, more depressed, more anxious, and more lonely than non-incel men. This elevated mental distress may be a cause or a result of inceldom, or both.
- Incels were slightly higher on sociosexuality than the control group of men, notably the desire facet of sociosexuality (the only one examined in this study). This means incels reported having higher libidos and more sexual fantasies compared to the control men. Costello controlled for age (the control sample was older, as incels seem to be overwhelmingly young men). It is not a surprising finding as prior research has found that being in a romantic relationship is associated with lower sociosexual desire among men, and incels are de facto selected for higher sexual frustration. A statistical analysis revealed that incel's higher sociosexuality didn't seem to mediate their higher mental distress directly to any significant degree on average.
- There was no significant difference between the groups of men in self-described political affiliation.
- Incels were more likely to be "BIPOC" (non-White) than expected by chance, according to Costello. Though the demographics of the incel sample were fairly close to the demographics of the United States at White: 63.58% BIPOC: 36.42%, and Americans were apparently a large portion of his sample, so this effect does not seem to be overly large.
- Incels scored moderately higher on the psychological instrument measuring "tendency for interpersonal victimhood" employed in the study. This means the incels surveyed had a more external locus of control (feeling of little ability to alter one's life circumstances), a lack of empathy towards other's struggles (a weak effect), "moral elitism" (a belief in the moral superiority of oneself or one's group over others, presumably incels over 'normies' in this case) and rumination (in this case nurturing negative feelings regarding slights on has experienced, which is also a symptom or cause of depression). This basically means these incels were more blackpilled than the non-incel men.
- More incels reported living with their parents compared to non-incel men, though the effect was rather small (keeping in mind most incels are young, and living with your parents to an advanced age is now normative in Western countries). Interestingly, 20 of the "incels" surveyed reported they were cohabiting with a romantic partner, so these were either fakecels or incels deliberately attempting to spoil Costello's data.
- Belief in the permanency of inceldom was weakly associated with greater depression and loneliness scores among the incel sample. Greater incel forum use was weakly associated with higher levels of anxiety,
- Incels were less educated than control men. While a similar portion attained higher education at the undergraduate level, the incels were more likely to be high-school dropouts than control men and less likely to have a post-graduate university education.
- Incels were more likely to be NEETs (Not in Education Employment or Training) than non incel men, though this effect was very small, with incels only being slightly more like to be NEET than would be expected by chance. Costello placed a high emphasis on incel's lower socioeconomic status as a cause of their inceldom, linking this finding to predominate evolutionary psychological theories of innate female economic hypergamy and desire for financial investment from their male partners.
Costello's conclusion[edit | edit source]
Costello claimed that his findings indicated that incels were not a "far-right" group, and that racial animus on the part of incels, where it occurs, largely takes the form of "performative trolling" or expressions of self-loathing. He said mental health interventions into incels should be informed by evolutionary psychology, and took umbrage at attempts to criticize the field by linking it to incels, claiming incel's grasp of evolutionary psychology is "hyperbolic", though incels (blackpillers) did have some points when it comes to hypergamy. He argues that clinicians who are ignorant of or dismissive towards the evolutionary approach to psychology will likely be dismissed by incels as "lacking credibility". Costello argued that people that criticize the findings of his field because they are displeased by the potential social implications of it are committing a "moralistic fallacy".
Other responses[edit | edit source]
Edward Dutton did a video on the study and used its findings to support his view of incels being mostly "narcissists", "fast life history strategy men", and "mentally ill" with a "victim mentality".
References[edit | edit source]
- ↑ https://liberalarts.utexas.edu/psychology/gradstudents/wc22895
- ↑ https://william05227.wixsite.com/website
- ↑ https://mikhailapeterson.com/podcasts/159-william-costello/
- ↑ https://williamcostello.medium.com/step-your-dick-up-why-incels-deserve-better-advice-307879d7c97
- ↑ https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40806-022-00336-x
- ↑ https://www.psypost.org/2022/09/incels-exhibit-reduced-psychological-well-being-and-a-greater-tendency-for-interpersonal-victimhood-study-finds-63979
- ↑ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQJBQvvl0Ic