A ‘dark core’ personality is shared by every nasty person, new research finds.
Whether they are psychopaths, narcissists, egoists, sadists or spiteful people, they all share the same tendency to put themselves before others in the worst possible way.
Nine dark personality types all turned out to have this core of callous selfishness, involving total disregard for the rights of others.
However, psychopaths, narcissist, sadists and the rest express their dark core in slightly different ways.
All, though, justify their amoral behaviours to themselves to avoid feeling guilty about them.
Dr Ingo Zettler, study co-author, explains the D-factor:
“…the dark aspects of human personality have a common denominator, which means that — similar to intelligence — one can say that they are all an expression of the same dispositional tendency.
For example, in a given person, the D-factor can mostly manifest itself as narcissism, psychopathy or one of the other dark traits, or a combination of these.
But with our mapping of the common denominator of the various dark personality traits, one can simply ascertain that the person has a high D-factor.
This is because the D-factor indicates how likely a person is to engage in behaviour associated with one or more of these dark traits.”
The results come from a series of studies of over 2,500 people.
All were asked whether they agreed with statements like:
- “It is sometimes worth a little suffering on my part to see others receive the punishment they deserve.”
- “I know that I am special because everyone keeps telling me so.”
The study explored the following nine dark personality factors:
- Moral disengagement
- Psychological entitlement
The results showed that at their core, each of the dark personality factors had much in common.
People who have the dark core factor are also likely to have the behaviours of multiple dark personality types.
People with this dark factor are all around us, said Dr Zettler:
“We see it, for example, in cases of extreme violence, or rule-breaking, lying, and deception in the corporate or public sectors.
Here, knowledge about a person’s D-factor may be a useful tool, for example to assess the likelihood that the person will reoffend or engage in more harmful behaviour.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Psychological Review (Moshagen et al., 2018).