Episode 133: Inside The Minds Of Incels

October 4, 2022 by Justin Lehmiller

Sex and Psychology Podcast
Sex and Psychology Podcast
Episode 133: Inside The Minds Of Incels

Some people want to have sexual and romantic relationships but are unable to do so. They are involuntarily celibate. For some, this perceived inability to form and maintain sexual and romantic relationships becomes a defining feature of the self—a social identity known as “incel.” In the popular media, incels tend to be characterized as misogynists and male supremecists who are prone to violence. However, the truth about incels is more complex, and it turns out that the incels aren’t exactly who we think they are. So let’s take a look inside the minds of incels.

I am joined by William Costello, a PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is a member of Dr. David Buss’s Evolutionary Psychology lab. He holds a Masters in Psychology, Culture, and Evolution from Brunel University London and his dissertation investigated the psychology of incels. Some of the topics we discuss include:

  • Why incels have always been around, and how modern incels are different.
  • Why changes in the mating market are creating more incels.
  • What do people who identify as incel look like? Do they match up with the stereotypes (i.e., young, White, conservative)?
  • Why popular dating advice given to incels isn’t helpful.
  • What the mental health of incels looks like.
  • Are incels inherently prone to violence?

To learn more about William, follow him on Twitter @CostelloWilliam

Thanks to the Modern Sex Therapy Institutes (modernsextherapyinstitutes.com) and the Kinsey Institute (kinseyinstitute.org) for sponsoring this episode!

Visit modernsextherapyinstitutes.com to explore programs and certifications in sex therapy and education.

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Credits: Precision Podcasting (Podcast editing) and Shutterstock/Florian (Music). Image created with Canva; photos used with permission of guest.


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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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