The Dark Tetrad of Personality:
Relevance to
Nefarious Groups
Delroy L. Paulhus
University of British Columbia
Outline
 Dark Triad
 Dark Tetrad
 Application to groups
Positive personalities
 Boring
Negative personalities
 Fascinating
 Exciting
 Consequential
NARCISSIST
MACHIAVELLIAN
PSYCHOPATH
The Dark Triad
 Narcissist: egotistical attention-seeking
 Machiavellian: planful manipulation
 Psychopath: reckless and callous
CLINICAL LEVEL
-serious problems
-requires professional help
SUBCLINICAL
-mild version, allows person to
manage in everyday society
What is the common factor?
callousness
N
M
P
Machiavellianism
Niccolo Machiavelli
Machiavellianism
 Advisor to the Medici family (ca. 1500)
 To succeed in politics, you must manipulate
others
 E.g., flatter important people
 Most people are ignorant and deserve to be
manipulated
Richard Christie created the Mach scale
Sun-Tzu:
The Art of War
(ca. 500 B.C.)
The Psychopath
Clinical version
 key features:
 Nasty & impulsive
 Keeps committing crimes
 Never learns
 Most of life spent in prison
The Subclinical Version
 Normal psychopath
 Successful psychopath
 Non-criminal psychopath
 Businessman, lawyer, student
The Narcissist
 Sense of superiority
 Needs attention
 Constant bragging
 Feels entitled to superior treatment
 Derogates others
 In principle, they are secretly insecure
 Raskin created the Narcissistic Personality
Inventory
MODERN DAY EXAMPLES
OF THE DARK TRIAD
Subclinical narcissism
Donald Trump
Paris Hilton
Bernie Madoff
Machiavellian
3. Machiavellianism
Sean Avery
Sub-clinical psychopath
SOME OF THE ISSUES
Q: are they actually the same person?
A: No, but positively correlated
Q: Are they mutually exclusive?
A: No, they can be found in the same person.
OUR RESEARCH
 Designed to differentiate the Dark Triad
 Included an extensive program of correlational
and experimental studies
 Hoped to differentiate the three on the basis of
predicting distinct outcomes
 Required solid measurement instruments
 Primarily student and Mechanical Turk samples
Paulhus & Williams (2002)
 INTRODUCED THE RESEARCH
 SRP III (Self-Report Psychopathy)
 NPI (Narcissistic Personality Inventory)
 Mach IV (Machiavellianism scale)
 Short Dark Triad (Jones & Paulhus, 2010)
TO ANTICIPATE:
The Dark Triad members show
distinctive correlates across a wide
range of unsavory behaviors
Williams & Paulhus 2003
Self-enhancement
Discrepancy measure
 Departure from reality
Objective measure
 Over-Claiming Questionnaire
 How familiar are you with these 100
things?
 Some of them are not real
Results
 Correlations with self-enhancement
 Narcissism were moderate to large
 Psychopathy were small
 Machiavellianism were zero
CHEATING & FRAUD
Exam copying Study
(Nathanson et al., 2006)
 A. Administered battery of personality measures
 B. Used Wesolowsky Program to detect cheaters
on midterm and final exams
 Examines wrong answers on multiple-choice tests
 Compares all combinations of students
 Statistical detection of error similarities
 Identifies outlier pairs
 RESULTS
Narcissism
Machivellianism
Psychopathy
r = .10
r = .11
r = .28
Plagiarism Study
Williams et al. (2010)
 245 students
 Term papers scored for plagiarism by Turn-It-In
program
 Both Psychopathy & Machiavellianism worked
Fraud Study
 E-mail questionnaire study (N = 95)
 Participation motivation was lottery
 three $50.00 prizes for participating
 Before awarding prizes, we sent another email
 “Oops, we lost the list of winners”
Results
 12 of 63 students responders reported that they
were a winner
 Narcissism
 Machiavellianism
 Psychopathy
r = .04
r = .10
r = .24
p < .03
AGGRESSION
Jones & Paulhus (2010)
 white noise paradigm
 Advertised as Competitive Game Study
 PROVOCATIONS BY ‘PARTNER’
 Actually there is no partner
 She decides how to respond by setting the noise
delivered to the partner
 Aggression was measured by the noise setting
administered to partner
Results
 Narcissists increased aggression after an
insult
 Psychopaths increased aggression after
a gratuitous escalation
Sexual deviance studies
 We asked students about deviant sex fantasies
and behavior (paraphilias, etc.)
 RESULTS
 Most people have some deviant fantasies
 Link between fantasy and behavior was stronger
among psychopaths
RESEARCH BY
OTHERS
Behavior-Genetics Study
Vernon et al. (2007)
 N = 344 twins
 Psychopathy & narcissism highly heritable
 Machiavellianism shows a strong shared
environmental effect
Big Six studies
Ashton & Lee (2006)
 They added Factor 6 called Honesty-Humility --
to the Big Five
 All of the triad load on Factor 6, with few loadings
on other factors
International Sex Survey
Schmitt and colleagues (2005)
 Psychopaths steal other people’s lovers
 Same pattern in every one of 45 countries
REVENGE
Nathanson & Paulhus (in
preparation)
 On-line anonymous data collection
 If you’re like most people, you have fantasized
about getting back at someone for something
they did you.
 Tell us about an example of such a fantasy and
and whether you actually got payback.
Results
 Psychopathy and borderline personality predicted
stalking
 Neurotics fantasized but never acted on it
 We also clarified the motivation for revenge
STALKING
Lau & Paulhus (under review)
 Similar data collection to revenge studies
 Have you ever been rejected but continued to
pursue the person anyway?
 Please give us the details
 RESULTS : psychopaths were the most frequent
stalkers
CONCLUSIONS
Theoretical Features of D3
Narc
Mach
Psychopathy
Callousness
HI
HI
HI
Impulsivity
MOD
LO
HI
Manipulation
MOD
HI
HI
Criminality
LO
Grandiosity
HI
only
white collar
LO
all kinds
MOD
 The newest member
Sadism
Sexual Sadism
EVERYDAY SADISM
Abu Graib prison guards
Cage Fighting
Video games
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Postal 2
Grand Theft Auto 3
Manhunt
Mad World
Thrill Kill
EVERYDAY (NON-SEXUAL SADISM)
MOTIVATIONS
 Sadism encouraged by authorities
 Sadism encouraged by in-group
 Encouraged by sports norms
 Personal revenge
 CONCEPT: enjoyment vs. callous acceptance
 i.e., appetitive not low disgust
MEASURES
 QUESTIONNAIRES
 Short Sadism Scale (Davies, 2008)
 Our Multi-Sadism Questionnaire
 The SSIS plus:
 sexual sadism
 enjoyment of sadistic sports, films, video games, etc.
 partner abuse, self-harm, animal cruelty
 Question:
 How to show sadism in the psychology
laboratory?
 Answer:
 Bug crunching
 Your job is to crunch this bug
 30 percent of psychology students agreed
 Another 38 percent agreed to help
RESULTS
 Those who score high on the Sadism
Questionnaire will be more willing to
crunch the bug themselves
 Also those scoring high on RWA
 (cf. Milgram)
OTHER RESULTS
 Similar results for males and females
 Common enjoyment of all violent media
 Predicted by Everyday Sadism scale
 Linked to animal cruelty, fire-lighting,
and vandalism
 Sexual sadism only slightly related
 Unrelated to self-harm
 Relatively independent of Dark Triad !
Combinations of the Dark Tetrad
•The Giants
•Hitler, Stalin, Mao?
•Likely high intelligence too
Application to
Group Hierarchies
NEFARIOUS GROUPS
 Organized crime
 Motorcycle gangs
 Street gangs
 Terrorist organizations
 Politicians
Ideal Roles
 LEADERS
 Narcissist
Front man
 Machiavellian
Mastermind
 HENCH-MEN
 Psychopath
Hired gun
 Sadist
Cruel
 LEADERS
 Narcissist
 Machiavellian
Front man
Mastermind
 HENCH-MEN
 Psychopath
 Sadist
 FOLLOWERS
 True believers
Hired gun
Brutalizers
NARCISSISTS
 High profile
 charismatic
 spokesperson
MACHIAVELLIANS
 Low profile
 Mastermind
 Manipulator
 Strategic thinker
TRUE BELIEVERS
 Need to belong
 Need for an admirable identity
 charismatic
AUTHORITARIANS
 Obedient to authorities
 Escape from freedom
 Worldview Clarity
FAMOUS LEADERSHIP PAIRS
The Narcissist The Machiavellian
 Nixon
 Bill Clinton
Kissinger
Karl Rove
Hillary Clinton
 Bin Laden
Al-Zawahiri
 Bush
Others ?
CONCLUSIONS
 To understand dark characters, more
differentiation is needed
 Too often lumped together as simply evil
 They act in concert in certain nefarious groups
 Undermining such groups requires working on
each one’s weakness
THANK YOU
for
listening !
And THANKS TO MY
STUDENTS
Kevin Williams
Craig Nathanson
Peter Harms
Katherine Lau
Bryce Westlake
Dan Jones
Sabrina Kitching
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Paulhus.DRDC.talk - University of British Columbia