The Darkest Personality Traits: The Dark Triad

Good day to all my followers!

As promised my blog post today is on the Dark Triad and its extension the Dark Tetrad which is inclusive of the dark triad but also include Sadism as the fourth.

What is the Dark Triad?

The Dark Triad is a subject in psychology that focuses on three personality traits: Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. The used of the term “dark” implies that people possessing these traits have malevolent qualities. The Dark Triad is an immoral trifecta of personality traits that result in immense personal power. It grants high social status, tight control over interpersonal social dynamics and elicits intense sexual attraction.

The Dark Triads Are:

The ‘Dark Triad’ is a group of three personality traits, each of which may be considered not only anti-social but socially dangerous, as the person affected not only ignores the feelings of others but will use and abuse people for their own ends

  • Narcissism
  • Machiavellianism
  • Psychopathy

Three characteristics of the dark triad are:

  • Narcissism – Seeks praise
  • Machiavellianism – The end justifies the means
  • Psychopathy – Seeks control

People with these three “dark” traits tend to be callous and manipulative, willing to do or say practically anything to get their way. They have an inflated view of themselves and are often shameless about self-promotion. These individuals are likely to be impulsive and may engage in dangerous behavior and in some cases commit crimes without any regard for how their actions affect others.

Psychopathy is characterized by lack of empathy and remorse and is considered to be the “darkest” of the Dark Triad,

Machiavellianism is not considered a mental health diagnosis, it’s a personality trait which describes a master manipulator and conniving individual who deceives and tricks other for their personal gain. Machiavellianism is based on the political philosophy of the 16th century writer Niccolo Machiavelli

The third piece of the triad, narcissism, is characterized by excessive self-regard and heightened arrogance.

What is the Dark Tetrad?

The Dark Triad is sometimes extended to the Dark Tetrad. The fourth factor is sadism, which is a casual everyday pleasure in causing pain and discomfort to others. Where it might be difficult to hurt other people, this may be displaced cruelty towards animals. Like other factors sadism has a strong element of control in it.

Sadism: Sadists enjoy hurting others. Named for the Marquis Donatien Alphonse François de Sade, sadism means deriving pleasure from other people’s suffering. When the manipulative egotist who lacks a conscience gets thrills from making people suffer, when that person enjoys ruining lives and hurts people just for the sheer fun of hurting them, that’s the person more people will call evil. If all four of those overlapping qualities are so deeply, persistently ingrained in the personality that the combination defines who that person is, it might be hard not to call someone with that mixture evil. When all four are present, persistent, and pervasive, their victims tend to suffer the worst.

Any questions, queries or concerns about mental illness, please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.

Published by Coach Amy

BS, Psychology graduate, Certified NLP Master Practitioner, Certified Life Coach, training in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) Certified Confidence Life Coach,

One thought on “The Darkest Personality Traits: The Dark Triad

  1. How do you approach Machiavellianism, when everything that person will say will be to convince and influence you? Something they are masters at. For whatever motivation they have, control, sense of achievement, having no other human connection, sense of confirmation, a wish to be heard.
    Narcissism can be addressed by addressing fear, true Psychopathy by medication, more common sociopathy (learned emotional avoidance) addressed by counseling and everyday life experience.
    But Machiavellianism? How?
    When you’ve kindly taken your time to formulate an answer and help me out.
    I would then say you are talking to one, did I win your professional side over into playing the game? See what I mean and I would genuinely look at any treatment you gave me. Unless I was manipulating you again into this back and forth. That’s the side of Machiavellianism that is both terrifying and useful, making everyone else doubt who they are. Those last few reasons were certainly mine, a loneliness that is filled when I connect to someone in debate, or just arguing, a rare confirmation sometimes when I win them over and a wish to be heard at the end of it. Rarely do I feel liked, but certainly I feel a sense of self-worth from building a fictional reputation or persona either at work or online.
    But yes. For the sake of sounding redundant the third time. This particular individual will happily read anything you suggest and thank you for going through that twisting line of thought. I feel you are on to something here, but also anything I tell you to draw around that diagram as the cause will be from the side of me that is inbuilt to win over your view. For example fear, trauma, pain etc. – The best I have been able to do is numb myself to needing other people’s approval, though it is getting easier to just let things go, I still feel the tug inside when my fictional reputation or persona is damaged either at work or online, with my inability to out debate, outmaneuver or outdo whoever I was engaged with.
    Thoughts from someone deep into Machiavellianism.
    All the best.


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