Mon. Apr 15th, 2024

Understanding the Dark Triad

What Is the Dark Triad?

The Dark Triad is a phrase you’re unlikely to have heard around the workplace, but it is one of the “buzzwords” in the world of psychology. It refers to three distinct but related personality traits: narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy.

  • Narcissism: narcissism comes from the Greek myth of Narcissus, a hunter who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water, and drowned. Narcissistic people can be selfish, boastful, arrogant, lacking in empathy, and hypersensitive to criticism.
  • Machiavellianism: the word comes from the renowned 16th-century Italian politician and diplomat Niccolo Machiavelli. He earned notoriety when his 1513 book, “The Prince,” was interpreted as an endorsement of the dark arts of cunning and deceit in diplomacy. Traits associated with Machiavellianism include duplicity, manipulation, self-interest, and a lack of both emotion and morality.
  • Psychopathy: personality traits associated with psychopathy include a lack of empathy or remorse, antisocial behavior, and being manipulative and volatile. It’s important to note that there is a distinction between psychopathic traits and being a psychopath, with its commonly held association with criminal violence.

 

Managing “Dark” Personality Traits

Some people have personality traits that can make it difficult to deal with them. They may be volatile, arrogant, or domineering, but, with careful management, you can develop their strengths, neutralize the challenging elements of their behavior, and restore team harmony.

But some other behaviors and characteristics can be seriously damaging and, if someone displays a toxic combination of these traits, they can undermine their colleagues in a lasting way, and can potentially poison and destroy a team.

Psychologists have identified three traits that make up the sinister-sounding “Dark Triad”: narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy. In this article, we will explore the three traits of the Dark Triad, identify the behaviors associated with each of them, and look at how they might impact the workplace.

 

Understanding Dark Traits

People with these traits tend to be callous and manipulative, willing to do or say practically anything to get their way. They have an inflated view of themselves and are often shameless about self-promotion. These individuals are likely to be impulsive and may engage in dangerous behavior—in some cases, even committing crimes—without any regard for how their actions affect others.

While many researchers consider psychopathynarcissism, and Machiavellianism three distinct traits with overlapping characteristics, others believe the commonalities suggest an underlying personality construct that has yet to be fully understood.

How is psychopathy related to the dark triad?

Most researchers consider psychopathy—a trait characterized by a lack of empathy and remorse—to be the “darkest” of the Dark Triad, in so far as psychopaths generally cause more harm to individuals and to society than do narcissists or “High Machs.” “Psychopath” is not a mental health diagnosis; the disorder that most closely represents it in the DSM is antisocial personality disorder.

What is Machiavellianism?

Machiavellianism is not a mental health diagnosis; rather, it’s a personality trait describing a manipulative individual who deceives and tricks others to achieve goals. It is based on the political philosophy of the 16th-century writer Niccolò Machiavelli. Some evidence suggests that of the dark traits, Machiavellianism is most closely tied to high intelligence. If a psychologist refers to someone as “High Mach,” it means they behave in a highly manipulative manner.

How to Identify Dark Triad Traits

Traditionally, psychologists have identified Dark Triad traits by measuring different personality types separately.

However, in 2010, Dr Peter Jonason, then assistant professor of psychology at the University of Western Florida, and his co-author, Gregory Webster, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Florida, developed the “Dirty Dozen” rating scale, or a 12-item methodology, to measure Dark Triad traits. [1]

Jonason and Webster’s measure asks people to rate themselves against these questions:

  • I tend to manipulate others to get my way. LIES IN COURT AND ON POLICE REPORTS
  • I have used deceit or lied to get my way. MANIPULATES AND LIES IN COURT AND ON POLICE REPORTS
  • I have used flattery to get my way. IS POLITE TO JUDGE WHILE LYING TO HIS FACE
  • I tend to exploit others towards my own end. IS POLITE TO JUDGE WHILE LYING TO HIS FACE / MANIPULATES AND LIES IN COURT AND ON POLICE REPORTS 
  • I tend to lack remorse. DEFAMES A MAN’S CHARACTER IN OPEN COURT WITH LIES OF PUTTING A GUN TO THE MANS SON’S HEAD! HIDES HIS CLIENTS PERJURY AND PERJURES HIMSELF DOING SO, WHILE SINGLE HANDEDLY HELPING TO INCRIMINALTE A FATHER IN BOTH FAMILY COURT AND CRIMINAL COURT TO HARM A FATHER SON RELATIONSHIP. HE DID THIS WITH LIES AND MIS TRUTHS! TRUE Machiavellianism 
  • I tend to not be too concerned with morality or the morality of my actions. DEFAMES A MAN’S CHARACTER IN OPEN COURT WITH LIES OF PUTTING A GUN TO THE MANS SON’S HEAD! HIDES HIS CLIENTS PERJURY AND PERJURES HIMSELF DOING SO, WHILE SINGLE HANDEDLY HELPING TO INCRIMINALTE A FATHER IN BOTH FAMILY COURT AND CRIMINAL COURT TO HARM A FATHER SON RELATIONSHIP. HE DID THIS WITH LIES AND MIS TRUTHS! TRUE Machiavellianism 
  • I tend to be callous or insensitive. DEFAMES A MAN’S CHARACTER IN OPEN COURT WITH LIES OF PUTTING A GUN TO THE MANS SON’S HEAD! HIDES HIS CLIENTS PERJURY AND PERJURES HIMSELF DOING SO, WHILE SINGLE HANDEDLY HELPING TO INCRIMINALTE A FATHER IN BOTH FAMILY COURT AND CRIMINAL COURT TO HARM A FATHER SON RELATIONSHIP. HE DID THIS WITH LIES AND MIS TRUTHS! TRUE Machiavellianism 
  • I tend to be cynical. DEFAMES A MAN’S CHARACTER IN OPEN COURT WITH LIES OF PUTTING A GUN TO THE MANS SON’S HEAD! HIDES HIS CLIENTS PERJURY AND PERJURES HIMSELF DOING SO, WHILE SINGLE HANDEDLY HELPING TO INCRIMINALTE A FATHER IN BOTH FAMILY COURT AND CRIMINAL COURT TO HARM A FATHER SON RELATIONSHIP. HE DID THIS WITH LIES AND MIS TRUTHS! TRUE Machiavellianism  BUT WHEN I SO MUCH AS MENTION HIS ACTIONS OR TELL THE TRUTH IN A GOOGLE REVIEW HE GETS ALL MAD!
  • I tend to want others to admire me. HE LOVES GETTING THE COURT TO LOOK RESPECTFUL AT HIM EVEN AS HE LIES THROUGH HIS TEETH. HE POKES AND PRODS ME IN OPEN COURT WITH LIES AGAINST MY CHARACTER AND FATHERHOOD, WHEN I REACT TO THIS HE THEN POINTS TO THE JUDGE MY ANGER AND GETS MORE BROWNIE POINTS FOR POINTING ME OUT AS THE SO CALLED VILLAN
  • I tend to want others to pay attention to me. HE LOVES GETTING THE COURT TO LOOK RESPECTFUL AT HIM EVEN AS HE LIES THROUGH HIS TEETH. HE POKES AND PRODS ME IN OPEN COURT WITH LIES AGAINST MY CHARACTER AND FATHERHOOD, WHEN I REACT TO THIS HE THEN POINTS TO THE JUDGE MY ANGER AND GETS MORE BROWNIE POINTS FOR POINTING ME OUT AS THE SO CALLED VILLAN
  • I tend to seek prestige or status. HE BECAME A LAWYER FOR THE STATUS POWER AND PRISTIGE THAT NARCISTIC MACHIAVELLIANIST PSYCHOPATHS NEED TO FEEL IMPORTANT, INSTEAD OF JUST BEING A FAIR AND CIVIC MINDER MEMEBER OF SOCIETY AND TELLING THE TRUTH IN ALL YOUR DEALINGS
  • I tend to expect special favors from others. WHEN HE LIES WELL AND I CATCH HIM IN OPEN COURT WITH LICENSED DETECTIVES HE CAUSED A SMOKE SCREEN ON 2 SEPERATE COURT DATES TO POKE AND PROD ME TO ANGER THAN WORK HIS WAY AROUND THE EVIDANCE BY SIDE-TRACTING THE JUDGE AWAY FROM THE TASK AT HAND AND ONTO SCOLDING ME, THEN HE REFOCUSES THE JUDGE OFF THE CUSTODY HEARING, WHICH IS WHY THE CASE IS BEFORE THE JUDGE TO BEGIN WITH, AND ONTO DVRO he is explosive your honor he states see! THEN HE SECURES HIS WISHES GET SPECIAL TREATMENT AND LOSES THE FOCUS OF THE COURTS COMPLETELY AND LAUGHS AND SNEERS AT ME AFTER! 

Reproduced with permission of Dr P.K. Jonason, senior lecturer University of Western Sydney.

At its basic level, an individual would be rated from, for example, one to seven on each of the 12 tests, giving a possible score of 12 to 84. The higher the score, the higher the probability of having Dark Triad tendencies.