Saturday, 1 December 2012

The Dark Triad of personalities, a brief description

The Dark Triad is a group of three personality traits: narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy, all of which are interpersonally aversive. The Dark Triad refers to three theoretically distinct but empirically overlapping personality constructs. The term reflects the perception that these three diagnostic categories, have at least some common underlying factor.
Narcissism is a term with a wide range of meanings, depending on whether it is used to describe a central concept of psychoanalytic theory, a mental illness, a social or cultural problem, or simply a personality trait. Except in the sense of primary narcissism or healthy self-love, "narcissism" usually is used to describe some kind of problem in a person or group's relationships with self and others. In everyday speech, "narcissism" often means egotism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others. In psychology, the term is used to describe both normal self-love and unhealthy self-absorption due to a disturbance in the sense of self.

Machiavellianism is also a term that some social and personality psychologists use to describe a person's tendency to be emotionally cool and detached, and thus more able to detach from conventional morality and to deceive and manipulate others. In the 1960s, Richard Christie and Florence L. Geis developed a test for measuring a person's level of Machiavellianism. Their MACH-IV test, a twenty-statement personality survey, became the standard self-assessment tool of Machiavellianism. Measured on the Mach-IV scale, males are on average slightly more Machiavellian than females.
A 1992 review described Machiavellian motivation as related to cold selfishness and pure instrumentality, and those high on the trait were assumed to pursue their motives (e.g. sex, achievement, sociality) in duplicitous ways. More recent research on the motivations of high Machs compared to low Machs found that they gave high priority to money, power, and competition and relatively low priority to community building, self-love, and family concerns. High Machs admitted to focusing on unmitigated achievement and winning at any cost.
Due to their skill at interpersonal manipulation, there has often been an assumption that high Machs possess superior intelligence, or ability to understand other people in social situations. However, research has firmly established that Machiavellianism is unrelated to IQ.
Both empathy and emotion recognition have been shown to have negative correlations with Machiavellianism. Additionally, research has shown that Machiavellianism is unrelated to a more advanced theory of mind, that is, the ability to anticipate what others are thinking in social situations. If high Machs actually are skilled at manipulating others this appears to be unrelated to any special cognitive abilities as such.
A psychopath can have high verbal intelligence, but they typically lack "emotional intelligence". They can be expert in manipulating others by playing to their emotions. There is a shallow quality to the emotional aspect of their stories (i.e., how they felt, why they felt that way, or how others may have felt and why). The lack of emotional intelligence is the first good sign you may be dealing with a psychopath.

A psychopath is not the same as an antisocial personality. Antisocial personalities may or may not be psychopathic. The antisocial personality is primarily a problem involving a failure to respect the right of individuals, the law and rules of society. Psychopathy involves poor emotional intelligence, the lack of conscience, and an inability to feel attached to people except in terms of their value as a source of stimulation or new possessions. There are many expressions and forms of psychopathy. For instance, a sexual psychopath is one form of a psychopath.
Research has consistently revealed that measures of psychopathy and psychopathic personality traits represent some of the most consistent predictors of violent criminal involvement. As a result, there has been a considerable amount of interest in trying to identify the various etiological factors related to psychopathy.
Scientists are increasingly finding a genetic basis to psychopathy. Work in genetics has revealed that the heritability coefficient for psychopathy is a shocking 50%. Psychopathy, it would appear, runs deeply in the family. Moreover, neurologists are learning that psychopathy can manifest early in a person's life. There's an understandable reluctance to brand children as psychopaths, which is fair given the amount of stigma involved, and the fact that many children "act out" in age-appropriate ways. Consequently, therapists and researchers instead use the term "unemotional-callous" to describe what might actually be protopsychopathology.

A study led by Nicholas Holtzman and Michael Strube at Washington University in St. Louis found that people with personality traits known as the Dark Triad.
The study involved 111 college students 64 percent women who were photographed in their everyday attire. Researchers then had each subject wash off any makeup and change out of his or her own clothes into a t-shirt and sweatpants. Subjects with long hair were asked to pull it back into a ponytail. All subjects were then photographed in this unadorned state.
The subjects also took personality tests that measured traits that included the Dark Triad. Additionally, each subject provided contact information for several friends, so that every person's personality could be assessed by his or her peers. Each subject's self-assessment and peer-assessment were combined to create a composite personality score.
Mathematical correlations revealed that the three interrelated traits forming the Dark Triad were significantly associated with effective adornment. In other words, people with dark personalities knew how to look good. Perhaps of some concern is that the effect for psychopathy often considered the ‘‘darkest’’ trait was the most robust. Although there maybe some coloration between Attractiveness and dark personality traits, this relatively new framework personality cluster has only just been scientifically studied.
 Currently the theory of the dark triad theory supports the idea of facilitating the natural procreation of humans. Those high on the Dark Triad score tend to have an accelerated mating strategy, reporting more sex partners, more favorable attitudes towards casual sex. While there is an immediate result to this strategy. There are other types of non selfish avenues which claim positive results with no fallout should the strategy doesn't work. Consider the bad boy image which in a controlled strategy has a 50% chance of working. Where as a person with no hidden motive will have a better chance of attracting a mate. The possible future of this study will hopefully give us a better understanding of the Dark Triad on a cultural, social and on a genetic level. Perhaps one day there will be a way to detect our own personality framework and tweak it with the help of science...

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