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Discriminating the dark triad of personality Williams, Kevin Matthew


Some researchers have argued that narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy (i.e. 'the Dark Triad') may be identical personality traits, especially in normal populations. Three studies were conducted to assess the similarities and differences between the three traits in normal (i.e. university) populations. Study 1 (N = 114) found that (1) the three constructs can be differentiated on the basis of Big Five correlations, (2) narcissists can be distinguished by their self-enhancing tendencies, and (3) Machiavellians and psychopaths possess a higher nonverbal (compared to verbal) intelligence ratio. In Study 2 (N = 130), all three of the Dark Triad constructs correlated positively with interest in casual sex. Finally, Study 3 (N = 356) illustrated that psychopaths have a high penchant for antisocial entertainment activities and delinquent behaviour. Intercorrelations among the Triad constructs ranged from .21 to .57. Overall, these findings suggest that narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy are in fact three separate personality traits.

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