Empathy at the Heart of Darkness: Empathy Deficits That Bind the Dark Triad and Those That Mediate Indirect Relational Aggression.
ABSTRACT: The dark triad (DT) traits-psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism-have collectively been linked to reduced empathy and increased aggression; however, their association with distinct empathic subtypes remains unclear; and unique links to indirect relational aggression (IRA) have not been delineated. Moreover, whether dark traits should be conceptualized individually, as a dyad or as a triad with a dark core centered around the absence of empathy is debated. The current study examines (i) whether impaired empathy indeed represents a common "dark core" binding Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy, and (ii) this core explains associations between the dark traits and IRA. Participants (N = 301, 262 F/39 M) completed measures of the DT traits, cognitive and affective empathy components and IRA (Social Exclusion, Malicious Humor and Guilt Induction). The individual traits model without links between narcissism and IRA showed the best fit, suggesting that, at least in the context of IRA, the DT traits are best viewed as three independent personality traits. Distinct cognitive and affective empathy deficits and capacities are seen in the DT. Peripheral responsivity was the only type of empathy deficit associated with all dark traits, but unrelated to IRA. Psychopathy was the strongest indicator of impaired empathy and all IRAs; however, only online simulation, an affect-related cognitive empathy facet, partially mediated the relationships of psychopathy and Machiavellianism with IRA. Whilst the unique pathways for the dark triad traits suggest stronger alignment of psychopathy and Machiavellianism in their empathic deficits and indirect aggression; the data do not support the notion that an unempathic dark core underpinning all three traits drives indirect aggression. This is the first paper delineating the specific empathic deficits involved using a facet approach and their link to indirect forms of aggression. Results therefore inform theoretical models of aggression in the DT and offer some clarity on the debates surrounding the unempathic dark core in the DT.
Project description:Emotional deficits, such as limited empathy, are considered a fundamental aspect of the Dark Triad traits (narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy). However, the nature and extent of such deficiencies seem to vary among dark personalities. By applying multidimensional measures of empathy, emotional intelligence, and the Dark Triad, we aimed to investigate in more detail how individuals high in various dark traits understand and evaluate emotions. Results indicated that each trait, and, moreover, each facet thereof entailed unique emotional deficiencies. Narcissism was positively associated with trait emotional intelligence, whereas the secondary factor of psychopathy was associated negatively. With respect to empathy, only primary psychopathy was linked to an overall deficit, while a positive relationship was found between Machiavellianism and the perspective-taking facet of cognitive empathy. We argue that the specific emotional limitations of the Dark Triad traits might contribute to the successful deployment of different socially aversive strategies.
Project description:The Dark Triad (DT) is composed of three closely related personality traits: psychopathy, Machiavellianism and narcissism. These traits have been linked to emotional deficits. The aim of the present study was to analyze the relationship between the DT traits, including sub-dimensions, and depressive symptoms in order to identify those factors most strongly associated with the development of depression in individuals scoring high on DT. For these purposes, a total of 791 adults (M = 35.76 years; 24.91% males) completed a questionnaire battery including DT traits and depression measures. A positive significant correlation was found between psychopathy and Machiavellianism traits (total score and all sub-dimensions) and depressive symptoms. For narcissism, the direction of the correlation was dependent on the sub-dimension assessed. A model explaining 26.2% of the depressive symptoms scores was composed of the callous affect and criminal tendencies sub-dimensions of psychopathy, cynical view of human nature, which is a sub-dimension of Machiavellianism, and entitlement and self-sufficiency, which are sub-dimensions of narcissism. In addition, some of the relationships found between DT sub-dimensions and depressive symptoms appeared to depend on gender. Our results could have implications for detection and intervention programs aimed at decreasing the negative emotional consequences suffered by individuals with high DT scores. Limitations and future lines of research are discussed.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The Big Five traits (i.e., openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism: OCEAN) have been suggested to provide a meaningful taxonomy for studying the Dark Triad: Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy. Nevertheless, current research consists of mixed and inconsistent associations between the Dark Triad and OCEAN. Here we used the Dark Cube (Garcia & Rosenberg, 2016), a model of malevolent character theoretically based on Cloninger's biopsychosocial model of personality and in the assumption of a ternary structure of malevolent character. We use the dark cube profiles to investigate differences in OCEAN between individuals who differ in one dark character trait while holding the other two constant (i.e., conditional relationships). METHOD:Participants (N = 330) responded to the Short Dark Triad Inventory and the Big Five Inventory and were grouped according to the eight possible combinations using their dark trait scores (M, high Machiavellianism; m, low Machiavellianism; N, high narcissism; n, low narcissism; P, high psychopathy; p, low psychopathy): MNP "maleficent", MNp "manipulative narcissistic", MnP "anti-social", Mnp "Machiavellian", mNP "psychopathic narcissistic", mNp "narcissistic", mnP "psychopathic", and mnp "benevolent". RESULTS:High narcissism-high extraversion and high psychopathy-low agreeableness were consistently associated across comparisons. The rest of the comparisons showed a complex interaction. For example, high Machiavellianism-high neuroticism only when both narcissism and psychopathy were low (Mnp vs. mnp), high narcissism-high conscientiousness only when both Machiavellianism and psychopathy were also high (MNP vs. MnP), and high psychopathy-high neuroticism only when Machiavellianism was low and narcissism was high (mNP vs. mNp). CONCLUSIONS:We suggest that the Dark Cube is a useful tool in the investigation of a consistent Dark Triad Theory. This approach suggests that the only clear relationships were narcissism-extraversion and psychopathy-agreeableness and that the malevolent character traits were associated to specific OCEAN traits only under certain conditions. Hence, explaining the mixed and inconsistent linear associations in the Dark Triad literature.
Project description:Research has indicated that men's facial width-to-height ratio (fWHR) is part of an evolved system of social dominance, aggression, and power. fWHR has been linked to antisocial behavior, measured by self-reported aggression, but recent studies have failed to replicate this finding. To overcome these inconsistencies, influencing factors such as social status have to be taken into account in order to explain the relationship between fWHR and aggression. In particular, income has been shown to be an important influencing factor in this relationship. Furthermore, previous findings suggested that testosterone is linked to fWHR and might be associated with fWHR and dominance-related outcomes. Therefore, this study examined the influence of both social status defined by income and salivary testosterone on the association between fWHR and self-reported dominance-related behavioral traits. In particular, links between fWHR and self-report measures of aggression and the Dark Triad (encompassing psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and narcissism) were investigated in N = 109 men aged 40 to 75 years. fWHR was significantly associated with physical aggression and two of the Dark Triad traits (psychopathy and Machiavellianism) in men reporting low income. The relationship between fWHR and narcissism was moderated by testosterone. The findings highlight the importance of considering social status and neuroendocrine parameters such as testosterone when examining associations between fWHR and complex psychological traits and behaviors.
Project description:Background:The dark triad of personality (DT) comprises three antisocial personality traits (i.e., narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy) that are characterized by callousness and the motive to elevate the self while derogating other people. Previous research indicates that the positive relationship between the DT traits and interpersonally deviant behaviors is especially pronounced at high levels of emotional abilities. This has also been referred to as dark Emotional Intelligence (EI). Since prior studies predominantly examined dark EI via trait-approach, the present study targeted at providing evidence for dark EI using a behavioral measure of EI, namely emotion recognition performance. In order to study the robustness and cross-cultural validity of findings, parallel investigations were conducted in Germany and China. Methods:A total of N = 198 German (age: M = 23.40, SD = 5.88, 130 female) and N = 223 Chinese (age: M = 19.01, SD = 1.06, 105 female) participants took part in an online survey and completed a set of questionnaires in German and Mandarin translations, respectively. DT traits were assessed by means of the Short Dark Triad Scale. As a behavioral measure of emotional abilities, participants completed the Eyes Test for pairs of eyes of Caucasian and Asian models. Moreover, participants filled in the Emotional Manipulation Scale for the assessment of emotionally manipulative tactics. Results:Effects were highly gender- and culture-dependent. Among German females, Machiavellianism and narcissism showed the strongest positive associations with emotionally manipulative tactics at high levels of emotion recognition performance. A similar pattern of results was found among German males for psychopathy. None of the effects was observed in the Chinese female or male samples. Discussion:The present findings indicate that emotional abilities may constitute risk factors with the potential to promote rather than to prevent deviant behaviors especially in samples from Western cultures with pronounced scores on DT personality traits. Limitations and psychometric properties are discussed.
Project description:The Dark Triad of personality is a cluster of three socially aversive personality traits: Machiavellianism, narcissism and psychopathy. These traits are associated with a selfish, aggressive and exploitative interpersonal strategy. The objective of the current study was to establish relationships between the Dark Triad traits (and their dimensions) and momentary affect. Machiavellianism, grandiose narcissism, vulnerable narcissism and the dimensions of the Triarchic model of psychopathy (namely, boldness, meanness and disinhibition) were examined. We used the Day Reconstruction Method, which is based on reconstructing affective states experienced during the previous day. The final sample consisted of 270 university students providing affective ratings of 3047 diary episodes. Analyses using multilevel modelling showed that only boldness had a positive association with positive affective states and affect balance, and a negative association with negative affective states. Grandiose narcissism and its sub-dimensions had no relationship with momentary affect. The other dark traits were related to negative momentary affect and/or inversely related to positive momentary affect and affect balance. As a whole, our results empirically demonstrated distinctiveness of the Dark Triad traits in their relationship to everyday affective states. These findings are not congruent with the notion that people with the Dark Triad traits, who have a dispositional tendency to manipulate and exploit others, are generally cold and invulnerable to negative feelings. The associations between the Dark Triad and momentary affect were discussed in the contexts of evolutionary and positive psychology, in relation to the role and adaptive value of positive and negative emotions experienced by individuals higher in Machiavellianism, narcissism and psychopathy.
Project description:Background. The dark side of human character has been conceptualized in the Dark Triad Model: Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism. These three dark traits are often measured using single long instruments for each one of the traits. Nevertheless, there is a necessity of short and valid personality measures in psychological research. As an independent research group, we replicated the factor structure, convergent validity and item response for one of the most recent and widely used short measures to operationalize these malevolent traits, namely, Jonason's Dark Triad Dirty Dozen. We aimed to expand the understanding of what the Dirty Dozen really captures because the mixed results on construct validity in previous research. Method. We used the largest sample to date to respond to the Dirty Dozen (N = 3,698). We firstly investigated the factor structure using Confirmatory Factor Analysis and an exploratory distribution analysis of the items in the Dirty Dozen. Secondly, using a sub-sample (n = 500) and correlation analyses, we investigated the Dirty Dozen dark traits convergent validity to Machiavellianism measured by the Mach-IV, psychopathy measured by Eysenck's Personality Questionnaire Revised, narcissism using the Narcissism Personality Inventory, and both neuroticism and extraversion from the Eysenck's questionnaire. Finally, besides these Classic Test Theory analyses, we analyzed the responses for each Dirty Dozen item using Item Response Theory (IRT). Results. The results confirmed previous findings of a bi-factor model fit: one latent core dark trait and three dark traits. All three Dirty Dozen traits had a striking bi-modal distribution, which might indicate unconcealed social undesirability with the items. The three Dirty Dozen traits did converge too, although not strongly, with the contiguous single Dark Triad scales (r between .41 and .49). The probabilities of filling out steps on the Dirty Dozen narcissism-items were much higher than on the Dirty Dozen items for Machiavellianism and psychopathy. Overall, the Dirty Dozen instrument delivered the most predictive value with persons with average and high Dark Triad traits (theta > -0.5). Moreover, the Dirty Dozen scale was better conceptualized as a combined Machiavellianism-psychopathy factor, not narcissism, and is well captured with item 4: 'I tend to exploit others towards my own end.' Conclusion. The Dirty Dozen showed a consistent factor structure, a relatively convergent validity similar to that found in earlier studies. Narcissism measured using the Dirty Dozen, however, did not contribute with information to the core of the Dirty Dozen construct. More importantly, the results imply that the core of the Dirty Dozen scale, a manipulative and anti-social trait, can be measured by a Single Item Dirty Dark Dyad (SIDDD).
Project description:Stereotypes in medicine have become exaggerated for the purpose of workplace amusement. Our objective was to assess the levels of "dark triad" personality traits expressed by individuals working in different health care specialties in comparison with the general population.We conducted a prospective, cross-sectional study within multiple departments of a UK secondary care teaching hospital. A total of 248 health care professionals participated, and 159 members of the general population were recruited as a comparison group. We measured 3 personality traits--narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy--through the validated self-reported personality questionnaires Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI), MACH-IV and the Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale (LSRP), respectively.Health care professionals scored significantly lower on narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy (mean scores 12.0, 53.0 and 44.7, respectively) than the general population (p < 0.001). Nursing professionals exhibited a significantly higher level of secondary psychopathy than medical professionals (p = 0.04, mean LSRP score 20.3). Within the cohort of medical professionals, surgeons expressed significantly higher levels of narcissism (p = 0.03, mean NPI score 15.0).Health care professionals expressed low levels of dark triad personality traits. The suggestion that health care professionals are avaricious and untrustworthy may be refuted, even for surgeons.
Project description:Three undesirable social traits (Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism) collectively known as the‘Dark Triad’ have gained huge empirical attention during the past decades. The Dark Triad Dirty Dozen (DTDD) is a brief and psychometrically sound tool for assessing dark traits. In the present study, the psychometric properties of the DTDD-Bangla were assessed (n = 371) as there no information about its psychometric adequacy in the Bangladesh context. The item analysis results demonstrated that the DTDD-Bangla had good item discrimination indices in both CTT and IRT. The confirmatory factor analysis results supported the three factors first-order model in terms of model fits and items' factor loadings over the bi-factor model. Scale level analyses revealed that this scale and its subscales had good internal consistency reliabilities and composite reliability. The MGCFA supported scalar invariance between males and females. Overall, the DTDD-Bangla seems psychometrically sound measure to assess the dark traits and can be used in further researches in the Bangladesh context. Psychology; Dark Triad; Dirty Dozen; Machiavellianism; Psychopathy; Narcissism; DTDD-Bangla
Project description:Background. Research addressing distinctions and similarities between people's malevolent character traits (i.e., the Dark Triad: Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy) has detected inconsistent linear associations to temperament traits. Additionally, these dark traits seem to have a common core expressed as uncooperativeness. Hence, some researchers suggest that the dark traits are best represented as one global construct (i.e., the unification argument) rather than as ternary construct (i.e., the uniqueness argument). We put forward the dark cube (cf. Cloninger's character cube) comprising eight dark profiles that can be used to compare individuals who differ in one dark character trait while holding the other two constant. Our aim was to investigate in which circumstances individuals who are high in each one of the dark character traits differ in Cloninger's "light" character traits: self-directedness, cooperativeness, and self-transcendence. We also investigated if people's dark character profiles were associated to their light character profiles. Method. A total of 997 participants recruited from Amazon's Mechanical Turk (MTurk) responded to the Short Dark Triad and the Short Character Inventory. Participants were allocated to eight different dark profiles and eight light profiles based on their scores in each of the traits and any possible combination of high and low scores. We used three-way interaction regression analyses and t-tests to investigate differences in light character traits between individuals with different dark profiles. As a second step, we compared the individuals' dark profile with her/his character profile using an exact cell-wise analysis conducted in the ROPstat software (http://www.ropstat.com). Results. Individuals who expressed high levels of Machiavellianism and those who expressed high levels of psychopathy also expressed low self-directedness and low cooperativeness. Individuals with high levels of narcissism, in contrast, scored high in self-directedness. Moreover, individuals with a profile low in the dark traits were more likely to end up with a profile high in cooperativeness. The opposite was true for those individuals with a profile high in the dark traits. The rest of the cross-comparisons revealed some of the characteristics of human personality as a non-linear complex dynamic system. Conclusions. Our study suggests that individuals who are high in Machiavellianism and psychopathy share a unified non-agentic and uncooperative character (i.e., irresponsible, low in self-control, unempathetic, unhelpful, untolerant), while individuals high in narcissism have a more unique character configuration expressed as high agency and, when the other dark traits are high, highly spiritual but uncooperative. In other words, based on differences in their associations to the light side of character, the Dark Triad seems to be a dyad rather than a triad.