The dark triad

When you take a personality test the results often come back as positive or at least neutral we seem to have a bias on what is complimenting our personality however, there is some negative personality traits that we can possess. The negative traits that we can posses are narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy, these three personality types are the components of the dark triad which was first coined by psychologists, Paulhus and Williams in 2002. This test has been used to identify people who are more likely to commit crimes and have a malevolent personality. before we let you work out your scores, let’s firstly take a deeper look into each personality type.

What is narcissism?

Way before the first selfie was ever taken, the ancient Greeks and Romans had a myth about a man who was a little bit to obsessed with his own self image. In one story “Narcissus” was a stunningly beautiful man who people would commit suicide for just to show their unrelenting devotion to him. As he was wondering the world to find someone to love, he came across a nymph named echo who fell in love with him, he rejected her and went to drink some water from a river, as he perched on the edge of the river he caught a glimpse of his reflection but after falling in love with himself he wanted more and more so lent further and further into the river leading to him falling in and drowning! A flower marked the spot where he lay that we now call a narcissus. This myth helps us have a better understanding the complexities of narcissism. So what’s the technical stuff? A narcissist is someone who has an inflated self image, a delusion of grandeur. A narcissist believes that they are more important, better looking and should be treated better than others. Many psychologists have said that this is a ego defense mechanism for vulnerability where we over exaggerate to cover this up. You might be thinking you’re guilty of these but the traits can be common in other personalities such as extroversion but narcissism, like most personality disorders are on a spectrum depending on the severity. What are the characteristics of narcissism? The main characteristics of narcissism are: High control, low empathy, need for superiority and attitude of entitlement. So why are some people narcissistic? Well some hypothesis’s are that children who are put on a pedestal by their parents will be more likely to gain narcissistic characteristics, there’s also vulnerable narcissism which could be due to over reactive parents. Another factor that might be fueling the fire is the growth of social media, think about it… when we post something on social media, we more than often do it for the likes that we receive, even myself, the aim of my Instagram is to grow a bigger audience and help more people. This may lead you to the question – can you cure narcissism? I wouldn’t necessarily say cure but you can definitely work on becoming a more rounded person by things such as psychotherapy or even just having a reality check every so often.

What is Machiavellianism?

“it is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both” those were the words of Niccolo Machiavelli who was a political advisor that wrote many works of history, philosophy and drama, one off his most notable works was his essay “the prince” which was a piece of advice to current and emerging monarch’s, it idolized the idea of power and how to keep it. As this caused many wars Machaveili was seen as an immoral being and in this the word machaveilianism was made, so let’s look at the dictionary for help, machaveilianism means the employment of cunning and duplicity in statecraft or in general conduct, in psychology and the dark triad it refers to a personality trait which sees a person so focused on their own interests they will manipulate, deceive, and exploit others to achieve their goals. They may be charming and can be nice but not exactly for the right reasons. Many Machiavellians can become very successful as they are super focused on their goals unfortunately people like Ted Bundy can be seen as Machiavellian due to his unbelievable charm and manipulative personality. I’m guessing you want to know some characteristics that you might find in a Machiavellian, just in case you think one of your friends is taking advantage of you, don’t worry I’ve got you! They function best in jobs and social situations in which the rules and boundaries are ambiguous. Their tactics to be persuasive include charm friendliness, self-disclosure, guilt, and pressure. Lastly they seem to be emotionally detached and have a cynical outlook which enables them to control their impulses and be careful, patient opportunists. Can you fix Machiavellianism? Well whilst I’ve been researching this I’ve found that you can help people with the personality traits of the dark triad with therapy such as CBT but unfortunately many of these people don’t want to partake in therapy as they may find it hard to grow a healthy relationship with their therapist.

What is psychopathy?

Unfortunately for this point of the dark triad, i haven’t got an interesting story to tell you on where the word came from but I’ll try and make it as fun as possible! Ahhhhhhhhhh a psychopath, run away! That might be your natural reaction but it’s only because you’ve been force fed it from the media because chaos gets clicks. Not all psychopaths are all the evil villain’s the media portrays them to be. A psychopath doesn’t lack heart they have a neurological deficiency specifically in the amygdala which is part of the limbic system, our limbic system is largely connected with our emotional responses so this would help explain one of the main characteristics of psychopathy, lack of empathy, other characteristics are lack of remorse, impulsivity and anti social behavior. Can you cure a psychopath? Well this ones slightly trickier, therapy for psychopathy is in very early stages of psychology furthermore, there has been improvements found specifically when tested on younger patient’s however, one danger to this is that the psychopath may use the skills they learn in therapy to manipulate other people in their daily lives.
I first learnt about this in my psychology class when I was studying criminal behaviour and was shocked to see how many of my classmates and myself showed characteristics of the personality types of the dark triad so below we’ll be going through D3 (short) Test so you can see for yourself.
Caution in no way am I telling you your personality, nor am I a trained psychologist, I am a psychology student. This is a replication of Paulhus, D.L 2013 measurement of the dark triad test. If you are concerned with your results go seek medical advice from a trained professional such as a psychologist.
Please answer as truthfully as you can on each question to get the most realistic results.
Please rate your agreement or disagreement with each statement using the following guidelines
1 2 3 4 5
Strongly disagree  disagree  neither agree or disagree  agree strongly agree 

 subscale 1

  1. It's not wise to tell your secrets.
  2. Generally speaking, people won't work hard unless they have to.
  3. Whatever it takes, you must get the important people on your side.
  4. Avoid direct conflict with others because they maybe useful in the future. 
  5. It's wise to keep track of information that you can use against people later.
  6. You should wait for the right time to get back at people.
  7. There are things you should hide from other people because they don't need to know.
  8. Make sure your plans benefit you, not others.
  9. Most people can be manipulated.

 subscale 2

  1. People see me as a natural leader.
  2. I hate being the center of attention. (R)
  3. Many group activities tend to be dull without me.
  4. I know that I am special because everyone keeps telling me so.
  5. I like to get acquainted with important people.
  6. I feel embarrassed if someone compliments me. (R)
  7. I have been compared to famous people.
  8. I am an average person. (R)
  9. I insist on getting the respect I deserve.

 subscale 3

  1. I like to get revenge on authorities. 
  2. I avoid dangerous situations. (R)
  3. Payback needs to be quick and nasty.
  4. People often say i'm out of control.
  5. It's true that I can be mean to others. (or i enjoy having sex with people I hardly know.)
  6. People who mess with me always regret it.
  7. I have never gotten into trouble with the law. (R)
  8. I like to pick on losers.
  9. I'll say anything to get what I want.
now reverse the scoring on all the statements marked with an (R) For example, if you chose 1 (strongly disagree) on a statement marked with (R) change it to 5 (strongly agree) and vice versa, if you choose 3 (neither agree or disagree) stick with the same answer. Then add up each of the scores within each subscale and divide by 9. The first mean score is your result for Machiavellianism, the second is narcissm and the third is psychopathy.

Average US undergraduate dark triad score

Machiavellianism narcissism  psychopathy 
3.1  2.8 2.4

So what was your scores? don't be shy... Let us know in my dark triad post on Instagram. As I said earlier don't let the results effect you to much. I've done this test a few times and got a few different scores, i believe this is because the statements can be subjective to many things such as how you're feeling on the day etc. the first time i took this test i was above average on Machiavellianism and below average on narcissism and psychopathy, the stats below are my most recent results.

Machiavellianism narcissism  psychopathy 
3 2.5  2.5


So seems scary right? well I'm not to worried with my results because I think there is a little wiggle room however, i have noticed a pattern that I'm often quite high on machaveilianism, i believe my results are a reflection of my "business mindset" were i have had to show traits of these personality types. When me and my classmates did this test there was only one student who was not over the average scores, i think this shows that we are becoming a more individualist society and may be adapting to modern society, these traits have been seen to be useful in business and attraction so may not be such a bad thing.

If you have any further questions, remarks or requests for what you would like to see more of, you can comment here on the blog, or message us on Instagram, Facebook or email.

Leave a comment

Name .
Message .