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The Dark Triad traits (i.e., psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and narcissism) have traditionally been viewed as undesirable and pathological. In contrast, an evolutionary perspective suggests that traits like these might be pseudopathologies; traits that society actively dislikes in that they pose a threat to the collective good. We examined (N = 290) how the Dark Triad traits related to intrapersonal (i.e., behavioral dysfunction), quasibehavioral (i.e., reactive and proactive aggression), and interpersonal (i.e., communal and exchange orientation) factors. Psychopathy predicted high rates of behavioral dysregulation and both forms of aggression. Psychopathy and Machiavellianism showed an aversion towards communalism but an exchange orientation to social relationships. Lastly, individual differences in the Dark Triad traits accounted for part (5–22%) of the sex differences in social strategies and aggression. The theoretical implications of these findings are discussed in, and in support of, an evolutionary paradigm.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Journal Article

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