Understanding A Dark Triad Personality Based On Major Red Flags

Last Update on May 1, 2023 : Published on May 1, 2023
Understanding Dark Triad Personality

What kind of red flags do you commonly see/observe in people?

Jealousy … distrust… controlling nature … lack of social boundaries … gaslighting … violence … offensive behavior … or addiction???

After observing all these red flags in a personality… ever wondered if these red flags were inherently injected or adapted as a coping mechanism?

If you’ve met a person or know a person who fits the above-mentioned template of red flags…then you might want to know more about a dark triad personality!

According to psychology, certain behavioral traits considered major red flags are known as the Dark Triad. In this blog, we will understand a dark triad personality based on the major red flags. So, let’s get started!

What is a Dark Triad Personality?

A dark triad personality is a group of three personality traits narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism. The cluster of these three negative personality traits shares features like duplicity, emotional coldness, and aggressiveness.

The dark triad was coined by psychologists Delroy Paulhus and Kevin Williams in 2002. In their study, the psychologists described these three traits as overlapping with each other yet distinct from each other. The Dark Triad Personality in Psychology got its position because it helped people understand the aversive behaviors seen in the workplace and in cultural problems where chauvinism is common.

People having such a personality keep a high tendency towards criminal and violent activities. Additionally, they have low-empathy behavior, are manipulative, and are self-serving.

Fact Check: In 2019, some psychologists suggested adding another negative personality trait (sadism) to the triad and making it a “Dark Tetrad.”

Understanding Three Traits of a Dark Triad

A dark triad personality is mostly related to negative behaviors and traits. A dark triad personality can be commonly recognized as they show specific negative actions such as greed or deception. But in broader terms, dark traits are generally exhibited by antisocial personalities. Let us take a look at the specific traits or major red flags of a dark triad personality in psychology.

1. Narcissism

Narcissism is one of the most commonly seen personality traits observed in a dark triad personality. But it is often misdiagnosed because narcissism is mainly identified with selfishness. However, narcissism in a dark triad personality is a bit further. Narcissism is extreme in this personality; it’s more about putting their needs first from all.

Narcissism in a dark triad personality can be determined by using a grading scale named as Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI). This grading scale helps in assessing the exploitation, authority, superiority, and other traits of a narcissist.

2. Subclinical Psychopathy

Psychopathy is more like narcissism as it also revolves around antisocial behaviors. Remorse behavior, lack of empathy, or impulse control are common behaviors that come under the umbrella of psychopathy.

According to psychology, psychopathy and subclinical psychopathy are the same. The only difference is quantitative. Subclinical psychopathy is more like exhibiting the same behaviors as psychopathy but the effect is lessened due to the extremity of the behaviors.

3. Machiavellianism

Machiavellianism is a personality that revolves around highly manipulative behaviors. This personality type was discovered by Niccolo Machiavelli, Nicollo was a philosopher who described a state of mind as “The Prince.”

People who persist in a Machiavelli personality are adept liars and deception runs in their inheritance. They deceptively seek what they want. Such people often have a pessimistic view and promote opportunistic and unethical ways of manipulation.

Machiavellianism in the workplace is all about having a duplicitous and cold manner in the settings. Moreover, it consists of three major factors such as power, management tactics, and manipulative behaviors. Most of the time, Machiavellianism behavior is associated with poor performance.

Ways to Identify a Dark Triad Personality

A dark triad personality mostly consists of a deceitful nature which is inherent and difficult to diagnose as these traits are transferred. One who has mastered the skill of manipulation tactics is considered to be an adept liar and is well-versed and trained to tell people what they wish to hear.

Psychologists usually assess a dark triad personality based on the scores of the big five personality traits. As the big five personality model is correlated with the dark triad personality, it can be a little bit easy to find out a dark triad based on a twelve-point scale which helps in measuring the three major red flags at once.

On the basis of my experience and research, it is quite difficult to find out a dark triad personality because such red flags revolve around lying, manipulation, and narcissism which also correlates with other mental health issues. However, you can take the reference of the below-mentioned points to recognize a dark triad personality:

1. Puts their needs first

A dark triad personality always hunts about fulfilling their own needs. You will always see them trying to achieve something regardless of how difficult, expensive, or harmful it might be to achieve something. After interacting with a Dark Triad Personality, you might start feeling used or manipulated (emotionally, financially, or physically) for their personal gain.

2. Plays the victim easily

A dark triad personality is a master at playing victim, abusing, or gaslighting someone who starts questioning their real self. The moment you start questioning, they will show their toxic behavior, deny the accusations, and quickly turn the table to a victimized situation.

3. Unable to maintain long-term relationships

It might be concluded that a dark triad personality is not able to maintain or sustain a long-term relationship with colleagues, friends, partners, or family members. If you see a history of unsuccessful relationships, you might be able to detect a dark triad personality easily. This is one of the common and easily detectable signs of a dark triad personality.

4. Adept liar

As mentioned above, a dark triad personality is a master at manipulation and toxic behavior, they are also adept at lying as they keep a strong knowledge of history and facts for benefit. Over time, their constant lying nature becomes visible to everyone and they are not able to maintain their images in front of everyone, especially in the workplace.

5. Narcissism on each move

One of the common detectable traits of a dark triad personality is narcissism. Wherever they go, they show their narcissistic behavior with each move! They lack empathy, are aggressive in nature, and repeatedly lie.

Dark Triad vs. Light Triad

To keep it short, a light triad personality is a complete opposite of a dark triad personality. They have faith in humanity and they follow the principles of morality. Overall, they live on the belief that people are good and people should not be used or treated for personal benefits.

Below is the graphic presentation of a dark triad vs. a light triad personality:

Dark Triad vs. Light Triad

Key Takeaway: How to Deal with a Dark Triad Personality

If you know someone who persists in a dark triad personality, it might be a little bit challenging. It’s always better to save yourself from their manipulation and narcissistic tactics before it starts destroying your overall well-being. According to a psychologist, it’s toxic to be in any kind of relationship with a dark triad personality be it relationship, friendship, or business association.

A dark triad personality is a hardwired exploitation personality that will change you from the inside out and will probably blame the change on you. If you’re in a relationship with a dark triad personality and if you wish to change, there might be some possibilities but the best and most effective strategy is to move away from their toxicity.

In the case of colleagues and friends, you can seek help from someone you trust. Try the below-mentioned tips to deal with a dark triad personality:

  • In cases of anger or aggressiveness, leave the room immediately.
  • Distance emotionally and physically to protect yourself from their tactics.
  • Identify the cause of their personality and deal with it accordingly.
  • Use “we” instead of “I” to deal with situations calmly in relationships.
  • Distribute the work in a team so that they can work on their tasks instead of manipulating other team members at the workplace.

I hope this blog helps you understand a dark triad personality. Comment down and share your views on the same. For more such content, connect with us on all social media platforms.

Thanks for reading!

About The Author

Aayushi Kapoor
Aayushi Kapoor

Aayushi is a Content Creator at Calm Sage. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Food Technology and a Master's Degree in Clinical Nutrition. Her constant interest in the improvement of mental health, nutrition, and overall wellness embarked upon her career as a “full-time educational writer.” She likes to make an asynchronous connection with her readers. Her mantra for living life is "What you seek is seeking you".

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