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The Dark Triad traits: Where we started and where we are going

29 November 2022
4:00 pm
San Ponziano Complex - Conference Room

When one thinks of personality, one tends to think of the Big Five traits. While this framework for personality is useful, it describes rather socially desirable manifestations of personality. Less socially desirable traits are often assumed to be pathologies, studied in the confines of clinical and criminal populations, and harder to capture well. However, thanks to self-report methods and (predominantly) online samples, researchers have been opening new avenues of research to study the nature, functioning, and consequences of even the most socially aversive traits. Over the last 20 years, researchers have documented many aspects of the Dark Triad traits of psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism. In this talk, we will review the history of this research through bibliometric analyses and look to the future with growth curve analyses and two, small-scale studies, one on "gaslighting" (N = 315 Australians) and one on the so-called Napoleon Complex (N = 367 MTurk workers). We will see how the field of research exploded with important theoretical and psychometric developments, how there are five clusters of work, some stable others growing, how the Dark Triad traits predict gaslighting and how primary psychopathy fully mediates men's greater tendency to gaslight but sex moderates the relationship between narcissism and gaslighting, and we document how those high in the Dark Triad traits--both men and women--are shorter and wish they were taller. We conclude with a frank discussion about the shortcomings in this area of research.


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Peter Karl Jonason, University of Padua