First introduced by Psychologists Delroy L. Paulhus and Kevin M. Williams the dark triad is a set of overlapping personality traits which host a group of undesirable behaviours. These three personality traits are narcissism, machiavellism and psychopathy. Some may say that these traits are can bring out the worst in human behaviour. People who score high on the dark triad personality scale can be manipulative, have a high sense of worth, with a superficial charm while lacking a considerable sense of empathy for others.
These are the three personality traits and their respective descriptions which make up the dark triad.
- High sense of entitlement
- Seek status and prestige
- An aura of cockiness
- Can be highly self centred
- Engage in a lot of short term hook ups
- Easily aggressive in the face of criticism
- Loves praise
- Has a superficial charm
- Have an inflated view of their own abilities
- Lack of empathy for others emotions
- High levels of deception, manipulativeness and craftiness
- Lack of remorse or guilt
- Highly impulsive
- Generally has a bad temper
- Manipulates others to get their own way
- Very cunning and calculative
- Very intelligent
- Highly observant
- Very aware of situations and surroundings
People who possess the dark triad personality traits are manipulative in nature and are well aware of what they can and cannot get away with, this maybe because they are either high in intelligence or they have had a lot of experience in social interactions so as a result they know which kinds of people they are dealing with and know what buttons to push without bringing too much attention to themselves. Their social mindfulness means that they are usually well aware of how they come across to people and have a good handle on their appearance, this goes hand in hand with their narcissism; their up keep to how they appear not only involves how people perceive them but how they look physically such as their fashion, posture, physique etc. Because of their narcissistic tendencies it would be hard to form close friendships with them as they would be more concerned with maintaining and improving an image rather than keeping a close friendship.
Keeping in mind that they are manipulative and care significantly about their image, what may give them an edge coupled with the characteristics previously mentioned is their lack of social fearlessness. This means that they are more likely to do what they would want to do without fear of being judged by others as long as it doesn't interfere with their perceived status. Surprisingly being emotionally cold in the face of potential social judgement can be seen as a good characteristic to have because you are more likely to take up opportunities you wouldn't otherwise take if you were feeling self conscious or have the feeling the you are being judged. On the other hand this emotionally coldness can be a hindrance on an interpersonal level as a dark triads lack of thought for other peoples thoughts or feelings mean that they may lack a filter for their words and actions which at some point or another may offend or upset someone. Again this can make it difficult to keep long term relationships as most people will find this trait emotionally draining and would not like to have someone this insensitive around them.
The dark triad can come in different forms, they be someone who is an emotional bully, talking down to others while seeking status and prestige; this can be a corporate boss or an ambitious corporate employee where their line of work involves using people as a vehicle to reach their aims; their general mentality is that the ends justifies the means regardless of who gets hurt. The person with a dark triad personality can also be one who is calculating, impulsive and doesn't think about the consequences of their actions nor cares about them; this can be someone who is promiscuous, has a lot of sexual partners and finds a way to engage with someone sexually even if they are in a relationship, or someone who takes joy in taking risks at the expense of others such as a conman or fraudster. The list can go on.
Of course most people on some level can and do display any one trait or all of the three traits which make up the dark triad as these characteristics are helpful in certain situations such as attracting a potential mate, bad boys are especially good at this because they are typical dark triads in nature. Their narcissism means they look after how they look, combined with their machiavellism means that they are in control and know what the are doing while the psychopathy (not in the serial killer sense) part of them means that they are impulsive and exciting without caring too much about any particular outcome which is also very attractive. Using some of these traits in your personal life without being excessive with them can be helpful rather than a hindrance, keeping in mind that moderation is key.
Have you asked your self ''am I a dark triad?'' or ''do I display some of these characteristics?'' Take this dark triad test to see how much of the traits discussed you exhibit. You may find the results interesting.
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