Dark triad

The dark triad is a psychological theory of personality that describes three notably offensive, but non-pathological personality types: Machiavellianism, sub-clinical narcissism, and sub-clinical psychopathy.

These personality types are called dark because each is considered to contain malevolent qualities.

All three dark triad traits overlap, and are associated with a callous–manipulative interpersonal style.

Narcissism is characterized by grandiosity, pride, egotism, and a lack of empathy.

Machiavellianism is characterized by the manipulation and exploitation of others, indifference to morality, lack of empathy, and a strategic focus on self-interest.

Psychopathy is characterized by continuous antisocial behavior, impulsivity, selfishness, callous and unemotional traits, and remorselessness.

High scores in these traits increase a person’s likelihood to commit crimes, cause social distress, and create severe problems for organizations, especially if they are in leadership positions.

High scores in the Dark Triad tend to be less compassionate, agreeable, empathetic, and satisfied with their lives, and less likely to believe they and others are good.

Among the big five personality traits, low agreeableness is the strongest correlate of the dark triad.

Neuroticism and a lack of conscientiousness are associated with some of the dark triad characteristics.

There is a consistent association between changes in agreeableness and the dark triad traits over the course of an individual’s life.

Individuals who score high on narcissism display grandiosity, entitlement, dominance, and superiority.

Narcissism has been found to correlate positively with extraversion and openness and negatively with agreeableness.

Narcissism has also been found to have a significant correlation with psychopathy.

Machiavellianism is named after the political philosophy of Niccolò Machiavelli, as being callous, lacking morality, and are excessively motivated by self-interest.

They view interpersonal manipulation as the key for life success, and behave accordingly.

Individuals who are measured to have a high level of Machiavellianism tend to have low agreeableness and conscientiousness.

Psychopathy is considered the most malevolent of the dark triad.

Individuals who score high on psychopathy show low levels of empathy and high levels of impulsivity and thrill-seeking.

With respect to the Big Five personality factors, psychopathy has been found to correlate negatively with agreeableness and conscientiousness.

Some have suggested that sadism should be considered a fourth dark trait.

While sadism is highly correlated with the dark triad, it predicts anti-social behavior beyond the dark triad.

Sadism shares common characteristics with psychopathy and antisocial behavior, including lack of empathy, readiness for emotional involvement, and inflicting suffering.

Each of the dark triad traits were related to manipulation in the workplace.

Machiavellianism is related with the use of excessive charm in manipulation, narcissism  is related with the use of physical appearance, and psychopathy was related with physical threats.

The dark triad traits have also been found to be fairly well-represented in upper-level management and CEOs.

People who are identified as internet trolls tend to have dark personality traits and show signs of sadism, antisocial behavior, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism.

Internet trolling is a manifestation of everyday sadism.

Trolling may be linked to bullying in both adolescents and adults. 

Youths scoring higher in dark triad traits show higher amounts of violent delinquency, specifically with interpersonal violence.

Individuals with dark triad traits that have admitted to stealing at some point in their life score higher on Machiavellianism and primary and secondary psychopathy.

Those higher in psychopathy and Machiavellianism were shown to predict psychological abuse with intimate partner violence.

Individuals with higher levels of psychopathy are more likely to engage in cyber bullying.

Individuals with dark triad traits were also found to be more likely to commit acts of online fraud, with each trait having different impacts on factors. 

Machiavellianism has impacts on opportunity and motivation.

Psychopathy has impacts on rationalization; and narcissism has impacts on perceptions of motivation and capabilities.

Dark triad characteristics correlate with support for various extremist ideologies. 

Support for the alt-right, which is prolifically associated with online trolling and harassment, and politically correct authoritarianism both correlate with all three traits as well as measures of entitlement. 

Support for a more liberal form of political correctness correlates negatively with psychopathy.

Dark triad characteristics correlate positively with out-group threat perceptions, anti-immigrant prejudice, and social dominance, and a psychological disposition toward group-based supremacy.

Left- and right-wing authoritarianism correlate similarly with psychopathy.

Dark triad traits affect individuals in their romantic relationships. 

In most cases dark triad traits cause people to have shorter-term relationships. 

The people higher in these traits will be in relationship types such as one-night stands, hookups, friends with benefits, which is when there is a relationship with a friend but do not define the relationship as a romantic one, booty calls, solicitation from a non-long-term relationship for the intent of sexual relations.

People who score high in dark triad traits tend to be less likely to have long-lasting relationships, and report lower relationship satisfaction. 

People who score high in dark triad traits are also more willing to terminate relationships than people who score lower on the dark triad.

Men  embody the dark tetrad are well-represented among the clientele of prostitutes.

All three traits of the dark triad have been found to have substantial genetic components.

Relationships between the three traits, and with the Big Five, are strongly driven by individual differences in genes.

Psychopathy and narcissism have both been found to be more inheritable than Machiavellianism.

Environmental factors contribute to the development of dark triad.

 Environmental factors , although  have less influence than genetics.

Environmental factors that are not shared with siblings contribute to all three dark triad traits. 

Only Machiavellianism is related to environmental factors that are shared with siblings.

There is a positive association between the experience of parental rejection by both parents and punishment as well as parental control and overprotection and Machiavellianism, narcissism and psychopathy.

Of the three dark triads Machiavellianism is the trait most likely to be influenced by the environment.

Dark triad traits correlations with aggression, racism, and bullying among other forms of social aversiveness.

Individuals demonstrating dark triad personality can be highly successful in society, but this success is typically short-lived.

Those who exhibit the dark triad of personality traits have an accelerated mating strategy, reporting more sex partners, more favorable attitudes towards casual sex, lowered standards in their short-term mates, a tendency to steal or poach mates from others, more risk-taking in the form of substance abuse, a tendency to prefer immediate but smaller amounts of money over delayed but larger amounts of money, limited self-control and greater incidence of ADHD symptoms, and a pragmatic and game-playing romance style.

These dark triad traits are part of a strategy that appears to be enacted by an exploitative, opportunistic, and protean approach to life and work.

Men tend to score higher than women on narcissism, Machiavellianism,and psychopathy,

Narcissism gender gap has shrunk: the average level of narcissism in women has increased more than the average level of narcissism in men. 

Men scored much higher than women in Machiavellianism and psychopathy than in narcissism.

The average levels of narcissism had increased over time.

The five factor model of personality has relationships with the dark triad combined and with each of the dark triad’s traits. 

Honesty–Humility has been found to be strongly negatively correlated to the dark triad traits.

All three dark triad traits are strongly negatively correlated with Honesty–Humility.

The overlap of the three dark traits represents a tendency to manipulate and exploit others for personal gain and defines the negative pole of the honesty–humility factor.

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