A world shrouded in darkness: Accounting for variance in the Dark Triad traits around the world

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

The Dark Triad traits (i.e., narcissism, psychopathy, Machiavellianism) capture individual differences in darker aspects of personality. However, most studies on the Dark Triad traits tend to rely on samples from Englishspeaking/Western countries and fail to account for country-level variance. In Study 1, we drew on data from 49 countries (N = 11,723) to examine how (a wide net of) country-level variables in economic status (e.g., GDP per capita), social relations (e.g., gender equality), political orientations (e.g., militarization), and social values (e.g., power distance) relate to country-level rates of the Dark Triad traits and variance in the magnitude of sex differences in the Dark Triad traits. Harsher economic conditions were associated with more narcissism and psychopathy whereas more “liberal” social conditions and values were associated with larger sex differences in the narcissism and psychopathy. In Study 2, we collected data from two countries (N = 557) that differ in socioecological conditions (i.e., Turkey and Australia) and measured (1) perceptions of a dangerous and competitive world and (2) individual differences in the Dark Triad traits. Turkish participants were higher in Dark Triad traits than Australian participants were and this was a function of competitive worldviews and stronger in men. Results are discussed using a life history model of personality traits as behavioral syndromes of adaptive social strategies.

Dr Jonason is currently Senior Lecturer in Personality or Individual Differences at Western Sydney University. After completing his B.A. in Political Science and Communication Sciences and his M.A. in Communication Sciences at the University of Connecticut, Dr Jonason got his Ph.D. in Psychology at New Mexico State University. He later taught Personality Psychology, Social Psychology, Evolutionary Psychology, and Introductory Psychology at the University of West Florida and the University of South Alabama. He is now at the University of Western Sydney as their resident expert in Individual Differences and Evolutionary Psychology. By training, Dr Jonason is a social-personality psychologist who uses evolutionary theory to derive predictions and account for observable phenomena in personality, individual differences, mating strategies, and sexuality. At heart, he is an inter-disciplinarian; he draws upon Psychology, Economics, Biology, Primatology, Anthropology, and Ethology to understand human nature.